For the past two and a half years I have worked in a veterinary clinic as a technician. Though two and a half years is relatively a short period of time, I have seen many stray, injured, homeless and nameless cats come through the front door and sadly, not all leave through that door either. For the lucky few whose injuries can be mended along with their trust in humanity, they are sure to find a loving home where they are accepted as member of the family to be cherished and cared for. This story is about one such cat.
It was during the end of the summer and to be quite honest I can't tell you the exact date unless I went back through her records, but nevertheless it was during the season when many vacationers return home from their summer on Cape Cod. With this time there is bound to be a few cats left behind to fend for themselves. I don't recall her admittance into the hospital because the summer was a busy one and with the amount of cases you see in one day they all start to blur together in the end.
I do remember seeing this average sized, muted calico huddled in the back of her cage, her hind end slumped unnaturally behind her. Her beautiful vibrant green eyes peered back at me, her pupils as big as saucers. She looked so meek and terrified, cramped in the corner of her small space, but she had a certain welcoming quality about her that you immediately knew she had a home at one time.
The doctor ordered a couple x-rays of her pelvis because he was quite sure it was broken. Surprisingly given her situation and the discomfort she was in she laid still while her pictures were taken. Sure enough her pelvis was broken and quite badly at that. She was still considered a stray at this point, and with strays drastic measures normally are not taken unless necessary, so surgery was counted out as an option for the time being. It was assumed she had been hit by a car by the nature of her injury.
We had run an ad the paper advertising this found cat in hopes someone who was missing her would read the lost and found section. No such luck. As time went on she became the clinic's cat and once she had healed she would have the chance to charm someone into bringing her into their life. She was quite the charmer once she started to feel better. She would rise up unsteadily on her feet and hobble over to you so she could rub her head on your hands.
Once the summer rush was over I had more time to spend with the cats on the top row. The top row consisted of cats recovering from surgery, up for adoption and the occasional boarder. I took an immediate liking to the calico because she was so eager for attention, desperate even. She'd squawk at you until you came over to her cage and petted her. Basking in the attention she'd roll over on her side and gaze up at you, giving a kitten sized 'mew' that was like her "thank you."
A few months after her arrival, once appointments and surgery slowed I decided to let the calico into the cat room, an exam room for cats and small dogs, so she could work on building up muscle mass in her hind legs. Her muscles had atrophied in her hindquarters giving her front half a bulky football player look. I was committed to letting her out for short periods of time every day in hopes that once she built her strength back she'd be able to go up for adoption. Unfortunately since she was 'only' a stray, not much attention had been given to her and it wasn't taken note of that she could not use her right hind leg.
I had the doctor examine her leg and he determined she had deep feeling in her leg but not enough for her to use it. When she walked or ran the leg would flop around behind her. The doctor was not sure if she'd ever regain the use of the leg but only time would tell. This was a big disappointment to me since I felt no one would want to take a handicapped cat on - never mind the fact that if she was never able to use the leg and it dragged on the ground and began to ulcerate - then it would have to be amputated.
Those big green eyes began to lurk in my mind on my off days and that cry for attention began to hit a sensitive spot. I kept thinking that if I could take her for a little while to my house she would get more exercise there rather than the clinic and quite possibly start to use that leg again. I had a large enclosure that I used for my other cat, Fallon, and figured when I was not home the calico could stay in there which was much bigger than her current cage.
After a few days of tossing the idea around in my head I decided to propose the idea to my boss who didn't hesitate to say yes. That night I got the cage out and set everything up: a litter pan, food and water dish, a big comfy towel and of course some toys. She was ready to come home. Before I brought her home, she needed a name. For a long time I had been calling her 'the calico' but I felt she needed a name like she needed a home. I tossed around a bunch of names and even called upon my friends at The Cat Arena for ideas. I eventually settled on Peach Hobbler or Peaches for short and the name met with great approval at the office, which is a rare thing since we always seem to disagree on what to name the cats.
Once the day came to bring the beauty home I was beyond excited because I knew she'd be a lot of fun to have around even if this was only a temporary situation. My plan was to keep her with me until she either built up enough strength or started using that leg again. Then I'd go on the hunt for the perfect home for her. Each day that passed when she was with me the list of criteria for her future home grew as I became more attached.
On her first day home I expected her to hunch in the back of her cat enclosure as she had done in her cage at the office in the beginning. To my amazement she cried and cried in that cage and she would not let up until I let her out. I kept the door of the computer room closed where the cage was kept figuring she'd be satisfied with this amount of space but she'd be safely confined from the other cats and the two dogs she had yet to meet. Of course she was not happy in the computer room either and would not stop crying until I let her into the living room and this went on until she had the immediate run of the house. It was much easier to close everyone else up rather than her.
As the days passed she became more comfortable with Brian, my boyfriend, me, the dogs and the other four cats. She was still at my house with the understanding she would soon be leaving. One night as Brian and I were sitting on the couch watching television, Peaches was sitting in between us as she had been for the few short weeks she was with us. As she squawked away and nudged the both of us for affection, Brian turned to me and said we'd be stupid to give up a cat this wonderful. Indeed he was right. With each of our cats having very different personalities, Peaches was definitely the most affectionate and sweet. We would have been crazy to give her up because there would never be another like her. I knew in the back of my mind there was no home that would have been good enough for her even if they served her food on a gold platter every night.
Even though I would never in my right mind agree to five cats I had to make an exception for this one. Fours months after her accident she is doing very well. Her back end has filled out with muscle and she has started to use her right leg for balance. I have high hopes that she will recover the full or at least partial use of the leg. No matter the outcome, we love her just as much, but I learned a very important lesson through all of this. I should never try and foster unless I am looking for another furry family member. Period.
- Thanks to Jessica for sharing Peaches' story.