The Mess That Is October – The Cat Edition. Literally. Cats.

Before I get into the craziness that has been October (it’s literally impossible for it to get much crazier at this point), I have a few things to mention:

First – I’m running a fundraiser for a friend who has had some really hard times the past year. You can read her story, and donate (or share, if you are unable to donate) at YouCaring.

Second – Sign up for my newsletter. 😀

Third – The Intro to Permaculture online class by Oregon State University starts tomorrow! It’s free. And all virtual. You can still enroll. 🙂 And, just a reminder, my review of that is here.

Really, it all started on the last day of September… when I found the dog had pinned down a feral kitten in the backyard. 

There were so many things I could have done differently that morning – so many ‘gut feelings’ that I decided to ignore. But who knows if/how it would have ended differently…

That morning, I let the dog out early (before the sun was up, by probably a good hour) because the sound of big trucks gets him excited, and he likes to bark at them and race them up the fence line (we’re on the main road of the neighborhood in the industrial part of town, so lots of big trucks often).

I almost didn’t let him out.

Quite a while later, I hear a dog barking. It sounds almost like it’s coming from my backyard… but not like Bear. I’m tired enough (it’s maybe just after dawn now, and I really should feed the chickens, but tired) that I ignore. For about half an hour.

And then I realize that this dog is still barking, and it still sounds close, so I should figure out what the heck is going on.

And that’s when I look out the back window and see my dog frantically barking at something on the ground back by the shed.

My first thought was that he’d finally caught a squirrel.

I throw on clothes. Slip on my outside boots as fast as I can without falling over, and head out the door (through the garage).

I almost grab leather gloves. But decide to get out there faster instead.

And then I get to where the dog is… and he has a friggin kitten.

There are multiple thoughts that run through my head at this point. But the main one is “I don’t remember when Bear is due for his rabies shot.” The next one is “… what if he’s gutted the kitten?”

Long story short, I did what most sane people would probably never do – I grab the kitten. And get bit in the process. But the kitten was not injured more than having lost one of its baby teeth prematurely, in trying to defend itself from the dog.

Long story short, after a few conversations with animal control, my best friend/veterinarian, and some major guilt on my part, the kitten is staying with us.

The first attempt for animal control to collect it ended up with it getting loose in my garage, and it lived behind my water heater for three days before it finally got caught in the live trap. And then it lived in a (large) cage in my garage for another couple weeks, getting gradually acclimatized to human interaction. I ate breakfast in the garage, at the same time I would feed the kitten, from nearly two weeks. That was physically uncomfortable, let me tell you.

But it’s payed off. We moved the kitten into the office after that (about two weeks ago now), and while it’s a bit skittish at times, it LIKES us now. Just not the dog. And Winnie does NOT like the kitten. She hisses on sight. Kitten is very intrigued by Winnie, however, but I think it’s still young enough to equate other cats with mother/litter mates more than anything else.

Learning to be a lap cat.
Learning to be a lap cat.

Last week, I finally got a good enough view to determine that kitten is a boy. Right now, I just call it ‘Little’. Mr. Loper and I can’t settle on a name. We’re not sure about his age. Maybe 16-18 weeks, tops, at this point. Old enough to look more cat-like than kitten, but definitely NOT full-grown in the slightest.

(Also, I did not need the post-exposure Rabies prophylaxis, thank God. We’ve had kitten long enough now to know that even if somehow it is still – very unlikely – carrying rabies, it would not have been able to transmit it to me at the time I was bitten. You can research Rabies yourself if you want to know all the reasoning/science behind it. I don’t have the energy right now to track everything down again and link it.)

And in the midst of all of this… we’ve had to deal with a situation with Winnie as well.

Around the same time all of the Kitten Drama started, we noticed that one of Winnie’s back feet was swollen – more specifically, one of the toes.

At first we thought she’d injured it somehow. There was a gaping hole next to her toe nail, and so we started putting antibiotic ointment on it for several days. After about two weeks, her claw – including the nail bed – actually fell out. There was no improvement after that, either.

So to the vet we went, and she had an antibiotic shot (because Winnie is the Cat That Shall Not Be Orally Medicated. Ever.) and… still no improvement.

So the decision was made to amputate the toe. (Winnie also got full bloodwork, and a dental while she was already under anesthesia ANYWAY, as well as her shots current.)

The amputation itself went well. The pathology report, though, was concerning.

Winnie had a form of cancer that is rare in cats – a cancer in the nail bed. I don’t remember the technical name for it right now, but best friend/vet said that it was far more common in dogs than in cats.

The good news is that it’s not usually a form of invasive cancer – IF it spreads, it spreads to the other toes of the same foot. The hitch here is that the pathology report came back saying there were abnormal cells near the edge of the tissue sample.

This morning, I noticed that the toe adjacent to the one amputated was swollen. Not to the point of being nasty like the first toe was, but very definitely concerning.

The upside of my best friend also being my veterinarian is that I get weekend consults, lol. I try not to abuse this. But it’s a nice benefit.

But… Winnie is definitely going to need, at the least, another toe amputated. Possibly more than that. We’ll know later in the week.

It’s just frustrating. I was hoping that the single surgery was all she would need, but now we’re going to have to through it again, and I have to keep her from tearing out stitches again.

And I have NaNoWriMo starting the day after tomorrow, on top of all of this. And no outline yet (though I at least have an idea).

This year has been crazy on so many fronts. But right now, I’d be happy if my cat would just pull through this without anymore complications. Winnie is 15. I’d like to see her around for at least a few more years. I really, really would.

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About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.