Saturday, 13 November 2010

We are responsible for those we have tamed

So why am I pretending it hasn't happened? Perhaps now, with the imminent danger over, I can articulate the experience of the past 20 hours. I came home early yesterday, after a day of back-to-back meetings that had all been satisfactory, and I was cheerful. I had had a very late and substantial business lunch so I wasn't as famished as I usually am when I came home, and it was Friday, so I sat down in a comfortable armchair with a glass of blush wine. Miso came and jumped onto my lap. Well, she didn't quite jump, rather crawled, but I took no notice because cats are like that. Only five minutes later it was obvisouly very, very wrong. I cannot explain it, but she felt like a piece of dead skin, and she didn't purr, and she hadn't groomed herself. We sat there for a while, and Staffan held her for a while, and I held her again, and then I heard Staffan call someone, and for some reason I thought he was calling Julia who knows all about cats and would know what to do. In fact, Staffan called the 24-hour veterinary service which just happened to be two streets from us here in Milton. We had driven past it at least twice a day the past eighteen months, with unuttered hope that we would never need it.

I knew Miso was really bad because she didn't even try to escape, and she lay dead still on the examination table, but she screamed with pain when the doctor squeezed her. She had bad wounds that I hadn't seen, and bruises, and, X-ray showed, broken ribs. And, blood test showed, kidney failure.

We don't know how old Miso is because we took her from a home, but she is at least twelve. Cats can live longer than that, but of course I have been thinking about how much longer she will be with us. When I see the agility with which she jumps through a half-open window I hope she will live many years. I am such a fatalist that I keep telling myself that we can't really know who of us goes first. So I shouldn't say I wasn't prepared. But I wasn't.When Staffan tried to hold my hand I had to brush it away not to burst into tears there and then. I guess the veterinary people have seen this happen over and over again.

They kept her overnight, and we came back to a silent, empty house, looking at her bowls and her blanket and stumbling over a tin of cat food in the fridge. We went to bed without a purring bundle of fur on my hip. We got up without a hungry scream in the kitchen. Nobody came to demand a lick of frothed milk from my coffee. The morning was very, very long. In my mind, I was digging a little grave at the bottom of the garden, behind the conifers. Staffan and I kept talking about irrelevant things.

Then we called the veterinary and heard that Miso was eating and doing fine. We could come and see her in the afternoon. We did. She was tired, but who wouldn't be after such a night. She had a tube attached to her little paw; half her back had been shaven to clean the wounds. But she was glad to see us, she sat up, she purred, she ate some food, just so show us (I know I am being silly now). The nurse praised her for patience and good behaviour.

With some luck, we can take her home tomorrow. Her kidneys will never be ok, but we can keep her going with the right kind of food and some medication. Maybe a month, maybe a year, maybe several years.


Silme said...

Best wishes to Miso and hope she keeps her health as good as it can be for a long, long time.

I actually read this post .. yesterday? The day before? I cannot recall, and I started crying (twice - first because it was horrible, then because it was better) and sat petting my own cat for a while. He looked worriedly at me for my strange behaviour. How dear they are to us, these creatures we take into our homes.

Maria Nikolajeva said...

Silme, thank you for understanding. Yes, it's incredible how we get attached to animals. Miso is back home now, but nobody knows whether it will be days or weeks.

Anonymous said...

I was googling on "We are responsible for those we have tamed", and came accross this very touching story. How is Miso now ? - Andrei.

Maria Nikolajeva said...

Andrei, thank you for asking. She is fine and as wonderful as ever. We are grateful for every day she is with us.

Maria Nikolajeva said...

Final comment