Like many Americans, I was up to my eyeballs in spreadsheets last week finishing the reams of paperwork involved in organizing/compiling my tax info for Bernie, our accountant, who prepares our return every year. I try not to leave all the fiscal drudgery until the last minute.
But inevitably, too many unexpected issues with my Grandmother or calamities like our dryer catching fire last fall decimate my schedule, and I end up finishing our accounting mess around April 1st.
However, this year, due to the demands of my second job, I didn’t print the last scrap of fiscal fodder until midnight of April 9th. And just as I was heading out the door the next day, my path to Bernie’s office was halted by the sixth-month old, curtain-scaling fella below…initiated by son, Max, exclaiming –
“Why’re George’s feet all bloody?”
I looked down at the cat sitting on my dresser. Both of his front paws were lathered in fresh blood. Samantha, our other cat, was mewing loudly and pacing erratically beside him.
“Oh, my God, George, what’d you do?” I gasped. I didn’t see any cuts or abrasions on his little white mits, and then I noticed something spherical in his mouth. But I couldn’t tell what it was. I tugged on this round, yellow disc wedged between his upper and lower teeth, but it wouldn’t budge.
I feared whatever he’d swallowed might have a string attached to it. I’d read an article at the vet’s office warning cat owners not to pull on a piece of yarn or a string dangling out of cat’s mouth because you could perforate their esophagus, which could cause them to choke on their own blood or cause serious damage to their colon if they’d swallowed part of it.
When Max realized that our baby cat might choke to death, he broke down sobbing. “No, not George. Oh, my God, no, not another cat…”
He was referring to Sasha, my beautiful stray who died last fall. Her demise is the subject of this post:
“He’s still breathing. He’ll be fine,” I said, my voice shaking as I scooped George up into my arms. “It’ll be okay,” I added, trying to keep my wits about me and assuage Max’s distress as well.
“No, he won’t,” Max wailed. “That’s his collar in his mouth. He’s going to suffocate.”
I studied George who was uttering a low, somewhat squeaky cry and struggling to push the foreign object out of his mouth with his tongue. Upon closer inspection, I realized Max was right. It was rabies tag between his teeth, which you can see in this pic:
“The vet will remove it. He’ll be okay,” I replied snatching the cat carrier from the exercise room and heading for the stairs.
But Max was beyond consolation and was convinced we’d bury another family pet by sundown. “Why does this keep happening? Why do all of our cats keep choking on shit?” Max lamented, slamming his hefty fist into his bathroom door.
Max’s outburst startled George who leapt from my arms, and scurried downstairs into the living room. A minute later, Max found the cat behind the couch. I set the carrier by the door and crawled around the furniture and gently captured George once again, only to lose him seconds later. I was so rattled, I didn’t fasten the hinge properly on the carrier. George fled his cage and disappeared into the shadows of the family room.
I spotted him behind Charlie’s recliner. Seconds later, I nudged him back into his plastic pen again. I called our vet who referred me to Diley Hill, an emergency veterinary hospital in Canal Winchester, 20 minutes away.
As I sped down 270, I kept envisioning George undergoing surgery, a gasp away from death, so I kept cooing, “You’ll be okay, baby George,” trying to reassure us both.
I passed the road to Diley Hill, but my GPS re-routed, and within 5 minutes, I was rushing my infant feline inside the ER where a lovely young vet tech with long, blonde hair met me at the front door and practically sprinted George into triage.
Before I could finish writing my address on the intake form, the veterinarian, Dr. Henson, a petite woman in her late 30s, appeared in the waiting room with George’s collar…she’d gotten it out in less than 5 minutes! I was amazed.
Can you believe this circular belt, meant to be worn by a Chihuahua, actually fit in his mouth without choking him? Because George is so tiny, the smallest kitty collar was too big for him. Even still, I couldn’t figure out how he’d finagled it off his neck without unhooking it or biting it in two. Perhaps, a name change is in order. Houdini anyone? :)
“He probably pulled on the rabies tag, flipped it over his head and his ears, and the rabies tag got stuck between his teeth, and he ended up swallowing the whole thing trying to work the rabies tag out from between his teeth,” Dr. Henson surmised.
“And all the blood is from raking his little claws inside his mouth trying to dislodge the collar, I guess?” I suggested.
Dr. Henson nodded. “Yes. There weren’t any cuts on his feet. But 2 or 3 in his mouth,” she continued, prying open his mug, so I could see the gashes on his gums. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic to administer with an eye dropper twice/day and softened food for a couple days until his mouth healed.
I thanked the doctor profusely and jetted back home, absolutely exhausted.
Unfortunately, because of George’s near-death adventure, I wasn’t able to deposit my stack of tax docs at Bernie’s office before work Wednesday night. Thus, Uncle Sam didn’t receive mine and Charlie’s 1040 form and its many tables and tabulations on 4/15/14, and that, my friends, is how an 8-pound fuzzball upstaged Uncle Sam.
But we shall add a properly executed ES-86-derelicttaxee.loser form to our return for an extension… . And all will be well in the eyes of our God-forsaken tax obligation.
If not, I’ll beguile the tax man with the lore of every cat I’ve ever known, complete with photos, diagrams and urns until my ad nauseam banter prompts him to forgive our tardiness in order to free himself of a cat lover’s verbose serenade.
Over and out from George and TB’s casa de crazy…
Tenacious B and her band of truth-spouting hippies...
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