the story of squirt – wcb #23

(It seems to be a good time to write about Squirt the Buddha Kitty in honor of Clare, the regular host of Weekend Cat Blogging, who was injured by her beloved Kiri while trying to protect him from an attacking dog. Clare has been in the hospital from cat bites since last Friday. Here’s hoping that you’re home and healthy, Clare!)

The first time I saw Squirt he was an orange flash rounding a bend down my backyard path. His mom, the imaginatively named Mama Kitty, was barely an adult herself when Squirt made his appearance in my life. Already, he had an older brother and sister, and a littermate, Nick. All of these cats were feral, and we had two indoor cats in a tiny apartment. Something had to be done. Fortunately, a local feral cat group assisted me with trapping, neutering, and vaccinating all six cats. Mr. Squirt was the first to visit my cage.

Our feral-friendly vet convinced me to keep Squirt in a dog crate until I could get him up to the weight of three pounds, so she could give him his other shots before I released him. When I very hesitantly agreed, she said that she wouldn’t mark his ear quite as prominently as the others. Do you think she might have known that I’d fall in love with Squirt? Nahhh.

Squirt was tiny, but he was old enough to be neutered. When he recovered from surgery, reaching into his cage invoked a Taz-like spitting, hissing, somersaulting fury. Frankly, I was scared to death of him. Sandy was the one who kept picking him up. “He’s just a little kitty,” Sandy said. I eyed Squirt dubiously. I wasn’t so sure. He seemed a bit on the demonic side to me.

Squirt didn’t seem to have much appetite. When we captured Nick, we put him in the cage for recovery to see if the competition for food would nudge Squirt along. For reasons I can no longer remember, we decided to go ahead and release Nick when he recovered since he was big enough. A short time later neighbors told us that Nick looked sick, then he disappeared.

Sandy couldn’t stand for Squirt to be in the cage, and he kept letting him out. We had several mad scrambles in which we both chased the poor scared little thing around. I didn’t want him to be in contact with Guido and Jazz. I caught Squirt, and he sank his needle teeth into my knuckle. This didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but the next day, on a Sunday afternoon, I went to see my pharmacist and asked him what the best thing was for a cat bite. I showed him my swollen red finger. He strongly advised me to call my doctor at home immediately and have him call back with a prescription. I decided to call my vet first.

“Don’t tell the doctor he hasn’t had his rabies shot,” the vet said. “I feel sure that he doesn’t have rabies, and if you want to play it safe, I understand. But you have him quarantined, and if he has it, you’ll know very quickly and there will be time for you to get help.”

My doctor called me in some antibiotic pills that could choke a horse, and then had me come in first thing in the morning for shots (not rabies). Unlike Clare, I didn’t have any complications.

Except that Squ!rt got sick.

There was no problem handling Squirt now. He managed only enough energy to weakly hiss at us and he would not eat or drink. The vet shook her head each time I brought him in. She prepared me for his likely death. She didn’t know what it was, but it wasn’t rabies, thank God. She thought that it might be psychological. I fed him liquidified high protein food through a syringe and from my fingertips four times a day. I left him in the hospital for a week while we took a long-planned trip to Disney World. The staff at the animal hospital fell in love with him. My neighbor performed Reiki on him. What was it about this unfriendly little marmalade waif?

Guido was barely a year old, and he was very interested in gently recruiting Squirt as a playmate. Squirt looked at him with confusion. He’d walk about ten feet away and flop down exhausted. Jazz was appalled at them both. But, that’s Jazz.

Then Guido got sick.

But, fortunately, that is what turned things around. The vet figured out the right treatment for Guido, and applied it to Squirt. In the meantime, Squirt was the saddest little kitty ever. He was skin and bones and never learned to play. He crawled up the sofa and the bed because he didn’t know how to jump. He hissed at us for about a year, although he didn’t care if we picked him up. In fact, he didn’t care about anything. Except Guido. He began to bond with the cats.

And now, he bonds with me. My little Squirt grew up to be the sweetest, most loving cat with whom I have ever shared a home. He purrs loudly just because I’m in the room with him. He makes little warbling noises of intense pleasure whenever I pet him. He talks to me constantly. He calms me when I’m anxious or upset. There are NO appetite problems, believe me!

I can’t imagine my world without Squirt having paid a visit to it. When I think of all the different choices that had to be made to bring him into it, it just boggles my mind.
I’m sure that you feel the same way about Kiri, Clare, especially since you had to make such a tough choice. May you both have a long, happy life together.


(More Weekend Cat Blogging is at masak-masak!)

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