I thought I would introduce you to Squeeze this week. He is out partially paralyzed cat, who is an inspiration to hope, get up, try again, and never give up.
Here’s his story:
Three years ago in February my husband called me about 10 minutes after he left for work. “Something terrible has happened!” he says. I am thinking someone just T-boned his new truck, he had some accident on the job, or the like. “My credit card wouldn’t work at the gas station” he continues (and I’m thinking, is that worth calling me for?), ” And when I pulled out I saw a cat hit by a car in the middle of the road. I thought it was dead, but then it sat up , and IT LOOKED AT ME”. Now I know what is coming next, because it’s not the first time.
“I picked it up, so I’m bringing it home”.
So while I’m running around to get ready to go to the airport for a pet shipment, I now have to stop at the vet’s and drop this cat off. As a veterinary technician, I’m thinking this cat has two most likely injuries – a broken back, which would make the decision easy, or a broken pelvis, not so bad, it can heal.
After assuring my vet that yes, I will be responsible for the bill, I leave the cat for blood work, radiographs and treatment for shock. As it turns out, this is a young male cat, only a few months old, and because he is young his bones and spine are not yet fused into solid bone, he’s flexible. There is nothing broken anywhere. That doesn’t mean he is okay though. Two days later he gets to come home.
At this point in time, he can’t stand on his own, move his tail, or legs. He can’t pee on his own. My husband does not want to euthanize him after spending all this money on diagnostics, so he comes home with us. We have to express his bladder (pushing on it to get the urine out), since the nerve damage seems to affect his whole hindquarters. Hence his name, Squeeze.
Squeeze most likely had a subluxation of his spine, when the vertebrae moved, and the spine was compressed, even though the spine didn’t break. It took a few months, but he started moving his legs, and could pull himself around. He can control his bowels – he hates messing in his bed or enclosure in the kennel- but we still express his bladder several times a day. We put a horse mat on the floor to give him physical therapy standing on a nonskid surface.
Three years later, he has moved into the house. We have a puppy play pen in the living room for him, and he can come out when supervised. He actually tries to chase the other house cats (who are all old), and who are all now afraid of him. He can stand on his own, and even take a few wobbly steps, even tough his proprioception isn’t too good. In fact, this is all new & recent improvement. I figure by the time he’s ten, he might be able to walk around on his own!
Well maybe, At some point he can just stop improving. He’ll never be a normal cat, we know that. But he’s sweet, with a quiet squeaky meow, and a personality that doesn’t give up.
If nothing else, he exemplifies a “can do” cat attitude. He hasn’t given up and hid in a corner. He enjoys laying in front of the fire, or in the sunshine, and he’s always happy to see us. He gets up over and over again when he plops down because his feet get tangled up. He walks with his toes turned under, because his nerves don’t tell his brain to stand on the pads of his feet. Still, he continues on.
So the Life Lesson of this story: I would hope that I can sometime have this same attitude if faced with a major illness that incapacitates me physically. Or even mentally. It’s so hard to remain happy and hopeful in such adversity. To persevere regardless of the circumstances. Wouldn’t it be great if humanity could all carry on with such a good outlook all the time?