PANAMA MAKES A HEARTFELT AND FOOLISH DECISION
My cat Squirrel got hit by a car. He got hit in the side of his head, which pushed his maxilla over to the right, and broke his mandibular synthesis.
In people talk this means that his face was smashed and his lower jaw broken in the front where it normally comes together. Also in people talk this means that he is a mess, and lucky to be alive.
But after he had dragged himself across the field and through my lawn and up the steps to the deck and up the steps to the kitchen door and through the door to flop helplessly on the floor, bleeding from every orifice in his head yet still wanting to live, and knowing that the people here would take care of him, what choice did we have?
He is lucky to have us as friends. I am lucky to have a couple of understanding vets who will front me their services for a limited time and keep him pumping.
So we raced through the night to the Murfreesboro Pet Emergency Clinic, after talking to our usual vet, who had vouched for us financially I'm sure, and we arrived to find competent kitty trauma docs waiting to take whatever action we decided.
So: put him down, or go for the big bucks treatment and try to bring him back from the edge? “How's his brain?” asked my wife the RN.
“Well, he's still in there. He's hurt but he knows where he is and who he is, if that's what you're asking,” said Dr Stevens.
“So all of this trauma is physical and he's not gonna be a rutabaga?”
She turned to me. Having spent a lot of time with crazy cat ladies, I knew my line. “Okay,” I said.
Patty said, “Do what it takes to save him, then.”
“Okay,” said Dr Stevens.
And so they did. And they patched him up and cleaned him up and took x-rays and got him high enough to get through the night. For a little more than the price of a good Mexican Telecaster.
The next morning, I got out of bed at 7 and took him to Dr. Kinard, his usual vet and one of the kindest souls I've met here. “It's going to take some doing,” Chuck said. “But we'll beef him up and get the inflammation down as much as we can for a few days and then we'll try to rebuild him.” I mentioned the bill. “Don't worry about that now. I know you and I know this cat.”
It's been a week now since the asshole going sixty though our thirty clipped my little cat, flinging him into the field next door. Last Monday Dr. Kinard wired his mandible back together, but afterward he said there was scant little he could do about Squirrel's upper jaw, which is sitting about a quarter of an inch further right than it should. All those delicate little facial bones crushed or displaced are impossible to restore to their former relationship to each other.
This morning, Saturday, I went to visit Squirrel at the vet's. One or both of us has gone every day.
Squirrel still has to be fed with a syringe, but when the vet's assistant brought him into the room where I was waiting, he began to act like the Squirrel I know so well. Bunting my face and purring, making biscuits while I loved on him. I put him down on the floor and he started doing figure eights around my legs, and like most bobs, talking a blue streak.
I know it's not prudent for a guy in my income bracket to throw money away on a cat. I have other obligations. But his determination to stay living and his trust in us to help him do that trumped every consideration of prudence. Had I just put him down two weeks ago, I would not have had the joy of this morning, with my little bob-tailed friend, now so glad to be alive and so glad to see me. Am I a sucker? You bet.
I've had a talk with Squirrel in an attempt to get him to reconcile himself to his new condition. I've explained to him that being a leading man is off his agenda. “But you know, you can still get a lot of juicy character roles. Character actors have longer careers anyway,” I say.
“I mean, look at Luis Guzman. Guy works all the time.”
Squirrel, with his little lopsided face, only purrs and bunts me again. He'll come home Monday.