Zoey, Part 9: Mutant Inbreed?!?

It seemed too good to be true… Zoey was back in my arms, and her original human parents had just surrendered her to me. The sweet baby was MINE, really mine!!!

But, wait. What’s that Jake just said? She isn’t actually a baby?

“She’s actually well over a year old, almost two,” he said. “She’s already had at least one litter of kittens.” He lowered his voice as if he were passing on classified information: “She was an inbred barn cat we got from our friends.”

Hold up: inbred??? Shouldn’t she have two heads, half a tail, and be walking into walls, then? There was nothing abnormal about Zoey’s appearance or behavior. And as for her age… could she really be an adult? She only weighed 5.1 pounds when I took her to the vet. Her limbs were skinny and spindly, like the legs of a fawn. Her eyes were so large, she reminded me of a Ty “Beanie Boo” stuffed animal. (See example below.)

 

beanie boo purple
A Ty Beanie Boo

 

Also, Zoey’s behavior was definitely kitten-like: spastic, jumping up on everything, no inhibitions, no fear, and no manners whatsoever. And the vet John and I had taken her to when she was injured had guesstimated her age to be about five months.

I tried to believe Jake. Why would he lie? (Clarissa said nothing to back up nor to refute his claims. Just stood there mutely.) The idea of a cat that would remain eternally kitten-sized was very charming. (THINK about it! Wouldn’t you love to have a mini kitty???)

One thing I knew Jake wasn’t fibbing about was the fact that Zoey had been vaccinated; he gave me the paperwork from the vet’s that said Zoey (well, Macie Mae at the time) was inoculated and due for her next shots in August of 2018.

I would just have to wait and see if Zoey ever got any bigger. And I’d have to watch her tummy for signs of life, literally, in case she was pregnant. (“If she is, the SPCA would probably take the litter,” John told me.)

What lay ahead for my little, might-be-a-mutant Zoey?

I’d just have to wait and see…

 

Zoey Bug
“Who you callin’ a mutant?”

 

Author’s note: Zoey has continued to flourish… and GROW! She has been spayed and is at this very moment, purring in my lap and kneading my arm as I type.

Stay tuned to My Life With Cats for updates on Zoey, my other cats, Jinx and Milo, and the stories of two more special kitties: Snowflake and Moo.

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Zoey, Part 7: “Give Her Back to Us!”

I thought of pretending I wasn’t home, because I knew why my neighbors were pounding at my door. But I knew I’d have to face them eventually. So I mustered up as much courage as possible and stepped onto the front stoop.

“So, you think it’s okay to take someone else’s cat?” Jake was belligerent.

I measured my words carefully. Another neighbor had told me a few days before that the kitten “really doesn’t belong to anyone anymore,” indicating that Jake and Clarissa had abandoned her. I believed the neighbor, since I saw Zoey outside all the time. I’d tried to catch Jake and Clarissa to ask them if it was still their kitten, but they were never around. Now it had come to this: a confrontation.

“She was hurt,” I said. “I had to get her to the vet. I haven’t seen you around. I didn’t think you wanted her anymore.”

“We’re around. We just don’t come out of out apartment a lot.” Jake was doing all the talking, while Clarissa hung back and played with her phone.

escher effect
Composite sketch of “Jake and Clarissa”

 

“She’s too little to be outside all the time,” I said, trying not to sound argumentative. “She could get hit by a car or mauled by a dog.” I immediately wondered whether I should have included that last part, recalling that the couple owned a pair of pit bulls. (Which, unlike the kitten, they kept in the house.)

“You can’t control a cat if it wants to go outside,” Jake scoffed.

“Yeah.” Clarissa finally spoke up. “Whenever I open the door, she scoots right past my legs before I can stop her.”

“Can I keep her while she heals, at least?” I was losing this argument and losing hope.

“No!”

“Well… if I give her back, will YOU keep her indoors until she gets better?”

“No! She’s going right back outdoors, where she wants to be.” Joe stomped away. “I’m gonna call the law!”

“Wait!” I cried. “I’ll go get her.”

This shut them up.

With the heaviest of hearts, I went upstairs, where Zoey was resting on the bed, unaware of the drama that was transpiring one floor below.

 

fuzzy wuzzy kitty
How can such a tiny kitty cause so much commotion?

 

I scooped up the tiny kitten and brought her outside, where Jake and Clarissa were waiting. I knew they were right. Even though I disagreed with the way they were raising the cat, it was their animal. Just because I’d gotten Zoey veterinary care didn’t give me any legal rights to her.

I held my breath as I handed the kitty over to Jake, wondering what would happen next…

To be continued.

Zoey, Part 5: The Vet Visit

I had recently become Facebook friends with a very nice guy named John.* He worked at the local SPCA, we had mutual friends, and our paths had crossed several times in the past.

I messaged John and he was swift in responding. He was free that day, and would try to get in touch with his vet friend and see if she could make time for an emergency visit. Luckily, she could!

I realized that if she was going to be admitted to a veterinary clinic, this kitten would need a name. No more Deejling, the nickname I’d given her because she so strongly resembled my late, great, cat Deej. I had scribbled a list of potential names in a notebook and I looked them over now:

Sadie, Evie, Maizie, Paislee, Gracie…

 

who me
Who do I look like?

None of them seemed to fit. She was a quirky little cat, headstrong, stubborn and very much a survivor. (That nasty throat puncture could have been fatal!) She needed a whimsical name, one that was as full of personality as she was.

I decided on “Zoey.” The name has Greek roots and actually means “life.” How appropriate; not only was this baby as lively as could be, she was lucky to be alive at all, considering the gory puncture wound on her throat. 

John drove Zoey and I to a veterinary office on the outskirts of the city. We waited outside the small building until the doctor pulled in the driveway.

Introductions were quickly made. Dr. Amy* unlocked the building and we followed her in. In the examination room, she tried her best to assess Zoey’s condition. I say this, because the kitty was hard to wrangle. She wanted to explore everything in the room, not sit still on a silly table!

 

VET
John tries to hold Zoey still

 

Dr. Amy did manage to get her weighed: a scant 5.1 lbs. The hole in her throat was, as I’d guessed, most likely caused by a dog bite. The rest of her scratches, however, were deemed self-inflicted; Zoey had been scratching herself due to a flea allergy. So, a topical flea med was applied. The doctor observed that Zoey was a bit sneezy and diagnosed her with an upper respiratory infection. I was given liquid drops to take care of that problem, plus antibacterial wipes with which to clean Zoey’s wounds.

I was feeling so relieved when we got out of there, that Zoey was going to be just fine with a little TLC, and grateful to John and Dr. Amy for their help.

But things wouldn’t stay all rosy for long….

 

*AUTHOR’S NOTE: Names of humans in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.

A Milo Update

A few months back, I introduced you to Milo, my special boy who was born with an abnormality called eyelid agenesis. He has no upper eyelids to protect his eyes. Incredibly, he is still able to close his eyes very well. Other cats with this condition aren’t always so lucky, being unable to close their eyes completely. Milo, however, looks just like a “normal” cat when he is sleeping.

Sly Smile

When he was first diagnosed by the kindly Dr. K., I was given a list of surgical options. Since the biggest irritant to Milo’s eyes was his own fur– short, eyelash-like strands of hair that poke and scratch his corneas– Dr. K. suggested that the thin strip of skin where those pesky hairs grow be surgically removed. This could be done on both eyes, or just the right one, which is notably worse. The other, most expensive option was to have reconstructive surgery, actually building makeshift eyelids for Milo!

In the months since Milo was last seen by the vet, I treated his eyes daily with a lubricant eye ointment. It’s just over-the-counter stuff you can buy at most drug stores. It has just three basic, natural ingredients: mineral oil, lanolin, and white petrolatum (the latter of which locks moisture in). He seemed to be doing well with this topical treatment, and he even got used to me rubbing the stuff in his little eyes, hardly putting up a fuss! But lately, I’ve noticed that his eyes– in particular, the right one– was alarmingly red and irritated.

red eye
A very irritated eye

Although he never, ever pawed at his eyes to indicate he was in any discomfort, when I gently pulled the eye open to take a closer look, he’d try to squirm out of my grip. (God bless him, though, he never tried to bite me!) I couldn’t tell if he had an eye ulcer or what was going on. It was time to make another vet appointment.

I was disappointed that Dr. K. was off until the New Year. So Milo and I saw Dr. Becky. She was very enamored with Mr. Milo, declaring him “very handsome” more than once. I told her that Milo already knows this; he’s a MAJOR poser!!!

Milo knows he's cute
Major Poser!

After examining him, she informed me that his right eye is constantly being pricked by those bristly hairs that act as eyelashes. She DOES NOT recommended getting the thin strips of skin surrounding his eyes removed. “That’ll give him even less of a non-eyelid,” she explained.  Becky said that another procedure I can look into is depilation, the permanent removal of the irritant hairs. I assume this is done by lasers or via electrolysis? It sounds more appealing to me than reconstructive surgery, where skin is taken from the kitty’s lips and mouth to construct eyelids!!! OUCH!!! (There have been success stories using this drastic procedure, like a California cat named Billie. Click here to read her story.)  The third, most frightening option, only if things deteriorate to where his condition is unmanageable, is to have the right eye removed altogether. Obviously, this is a last resort.

No vets in Watertown can perform the surgeries that Milo needs. I need to contact two different opthalmologists (yes, there are opthalmologists for cats), one in Fulton and one in Syracuse. Get price quotes and availability. Weigh options.

Meanwhile, I have antibiotic gel to apply to Milo’s eyes twice a day, in addition to the lubricant ointment. Keep us both in your prayers!

Milo and his eyes 127
I love my Big Brave Boy!!!