Thursday, August 23, 2007

it's a hard world for the frail

Last night I was sewing while I kept Lola company, who had turned the sound up very loud on "The Simpsons." I had a freshly made Manhattan by my side. The Sober Husband, who had come home from a company party at which he had been made to play beer pong, shouted, "Why aren't you checking on that kitten?"

"I can't hear anything!"

"There's a kitten in distress!"

I tore downstairs after him. "Come out here! Come out here!" he shouted at me from the backyard. I fumbled for the flashlight I keep near the door, but he already had it outside. The neighborhood raccoon had come in through the cat door and dragged our tiny orange foster kitten back out. The Sober Husband scared the raccoon off, but he wasn't willing to touch the kitten, who was gushing blood and crying pathetically.

I grabbed the kitten. At first sight, it looked like the kitten had lost both eyes and a lot of blood. "Get me a towel!" I shouted. I carried the kitten inside; the husband got me a towel. "Hold the kitten! I've got to put pants on!" (I had been lounging about in a t-shirt and underwear). I had blood all over me, but I didn't take time to clean it up. While I was pulling pants on, I told Lola to get her shoes on. She refused. I had no time to get into a war of wills with stubborn Lola, so I ran downstairs. I grabbed the phone book with the address of the veterinary night hospital, put the crying kitten into a carrier because Iris was too freaked out by the blood to hold him, and ran off with Iris. We didn't take the time to get books or sewing or anything.

It was 11:00 when we got to the hospital. I parked in front of a fire hydrant and we ran in with the kitten, with no jackets. I was glad I hadn't had my cocktail, since the kitten had lost so much blood that it would have been dangerous to wait for a cab. The veterinary hospital was crowded with a variety of dogs and a very sad waif with her pet rat. I pushed past the other pet owners. "This animal was just attacked by a raccoon!" They took the kitten back immediately. Iris and I went back to the car, parked it legally, put on our jackets (which weren't warm enough for the middle of the night), and went back to settle down in the waiting room.

We were in the waiting room for two hours, tired, cold, and bored. But it is truly an ill wind which blows no one any good, and the kitten's trauma gave Iris the long-desired chance to watch an entire episode of "South Park." I have forbidden the Sober Husband to show "South Park" to Iris, which has been an ongoing source of strife. "But Cartman is one of the great comedic inventions of all time," he has argued time after time. "I just want to share him with Iris."

"NO ONE BUT YOU thinks it is appropriate to watch "South Park" with a little child!" I've said again and again. "Do you want her to go to school and call people 'unclefucker'??"

But in the veterinary waiting room, the television showed "South Park", and Iris hung on every word. "I am so lucky," she said reverently.

Finally we were called in to see our kitten. It turns out that although his eyelids were lacerated, his eyes were still intact. He had gone into shock and had a fractured skull and hematoma. The little tabby was admitted to the hospital for the night, but I had to come back and get him before 8:00 AM, when the night clinic closed.

We got home around 1:00 AM. Unbelievably Lola and the Sober Husband were up waiting for us. Lola was happy to hear the kitten wasn't dead, but the husband was angry that I'd put a $200 deposit down at the clinic. He went off to sleep in a separate room.

I slept less than three hours. Iris couldn't sleep either, and we went together to pick up the kitten. At the clinic, we were happy to see the kitten had improved after getting painkillers, IV fluids, and spending the night in an incubator with oxygen and heat. I paid another $200, and we took the kitten home. He was visibly happy to be reunited with his littermates.

In the afternoon, we took our little fellow to the shelter's staff vet, who gave us two antibiotics, medicine for the kitten's wounded eyes, and painkillers to dole out to the little mite. We were all happy to see the kitten eat a little Trader Joe's tuna ("I buy this because it's the smelliest tuna there is," the vet explained). It looks as though he will survive his ordeal, but he'll need special care during his convalescence.

I'm going to have to suck up to the Sober Husband to make up for this budget-breaking emergency. Sigh. My rescue is a nonprofit, and I can get free veterinary care for my foster kittens IF I get it during business hours from the shelter's vet. If I have an emergency off-hours, I'm on my own financially. (Should any readers wish to contribute to the veterinary bills, their contribution would be gladly welcomed. Email me at

We felt we had learned the fate of the poor missing kitten from our prior litter: eaten by the raccoon, who we always thought was a jovial and pleasant animal. But then this evening, as I was making dinner for the children, I looked out the window and saw a large redtailed hawk perched on the back fence. Cat-eating raccoons and redtailed hawks on the property: the kittens are under siege. It's a hard world for a tiny fluffball that weighs less than a pound.


Silliyak said...

I still don't trust the Madrone...

Silliyak said...

That also reminds me of a South Park related story. My engine Co was grocery shopping and I was standing outside by my engine when some kids on bikes stopped by for some stickers and spied a Cartman sticker on the underside of my helmet. They thought I was pretty cool and asked me what my favorite episode was. I had just seen my favorite, "Camp Intolerance" but seeing how it involved a Gerbil traveling thru Mr Slaves GI tract I just made a lame remark about how I liked them all.
Also in some column today I read about a mom who keeps red towels available for emergencies, less visible staining, and less scary for the kids. Great idea I thought.

Missy said...

Oh, how traumatic. That would be so upsetting, the poor injured kitty and the injustice of paying for it.

I had no idea raccoons attacked kittens. I thought they just dug through garbage cans and the like.

Anonymous said...

I hate raccoons even more now.

Silliyak said...

don't hate the playa, hate the game

hughman said...

so sorry for the poor kitteh. wish i could help. hopefully he will recover and warn the other kitties.

smalltownme said...

I've had raccoon issues too. After several raccoon and possum invasions through a flapping cat door, we got a magnetic cat door, but the raccoons were clever enough to pry it open. So we locked the cat in at night. But one night, my handy husband left our screen door open...a raccoon came in, went upstairs, climbed a bookcase, crapped on top of the bookcase, and I begged my husband to chase the raccoon out of the house with a long stick (the pole pruner, I think). It was HUGE. Twice as big as our full grown cat.

Good luck to your kitten. You are a great mother to your daughters and to the kittens too.

Anonymous said...

Red towels for the emergencies - why did I never think of this? Now my grandchildren will benefit. Also, where can I get a Cartman sticker? Would that be at my local fire station?