My Life as a Pet Store
A few weeks ago our female tabby, Lucy stopped coming by to be fed on the front porch. My wife was upset. She sent me out between dinner and bedtime to check the neighborhood for the missing cat (we have three who get fed on the porch and one who lives in the house. One of the visiting cats doesn’t belong to us, he just likes to eat on our porch) It went on for about four days. One morning, I went out at seven to check the open field behind our house just to impress my wife with my devotion to the cats. To be honest, we’ve had so many cats I don’t always know their names.
On the fourth morning, my wife came into the bedroom and excitedly announced that Lucy had reappeared limping across our backyard. "Lucy's back, Lucy's back" she squealed, which may have been the most excited sound to come out of our bedroom in a couple weeks.
The cat was generally well, but something had clearly happened to her right rear leg. Mrs. Chancelucky got Lucy to the vets and after an overnight stay and a few anxious phone calls we learned that it was just a broken leg. We never got to discuss with the vet how the cat might have broken her leg. The bill, however, was surprisingly reasonable, something like $275, though my wife wouldn’t necessarily tell me if there were surcharges on top of that for various other cat saving services.
Lucy returned to the house with a green-covered cast on her leg. The vet put a heart decal just above what would be the knee. Do cats have knees? One thing I learned from this is that quadrapeds, a least cats, tend to walk around with their appendages more or less coiled. The cast had to be set so that Lucy’s leg was completely straight, in order for the fracture to heal properly. This means that the broken leg is about six inches longer than her three other legs. When she walks across the tile in the entryway, she makes sort of a clicking sound. For some reason, it makes me think of that dog in Something about Mary.
Amazingly, her mobility remains quite remarkable. A day after she got home, Lucy decided to hide underneath the couch. That little piece of fabric that covers the bottom of the frame got compromised by one of our kittens a few years ago. Lucy located it and parked herself more or less inside the body of our living room sofa. I’m not at all sure, how a three-legged cat maneuvered into such a tight space. There’s maybe four inches of clearance underneath our couch. Mrs. Chancelucky made me search the neighborhood again until we figured out where the cat had gone.
In the meantime, the cat has since jumped up on the bookshelves, on top of my digital piano, on and off our bed, and onto various counters? How the heck do you do that with a giant cast on your hind leg? Animals are rather remarkable athletes and I suspect if they had an interspecies Olympics, cats would do rather well except maybe in the water sports.
It’s now been a couple weeks and Lucy spends most of the day when we humans are out lying on top of our bed on a towel with a pink stuffed animal locked in our bedroom. My wife fears that the kitten will try to play with Lucy during the day and encourage her into one jump too many and risk breaking the leg again.
This means that the litter box has returned to the bathroom adjoining our bedroom. I don’t like them. For one, it’s really disconcerting to go the bathroom and find that the cat has had the same idea at the same time. One time I caught the kitten exploring the top of the toilet seat and seriously considered getting him back by using the litter box, but thought better of it. My wife, for some odd reason, doesn’t find that sort of thing funny at all. The other problem is that there’s always cat litter all over our bathroom floor now. It does seem like a good substitute for a carpet. It absorbs all the smells, you don’t have to vacuum, and it’s really warm for bare feet in the morning and late at night. I suppose the downside would be if the cats hang out in the house and turn your living room cat litter floor coverings into a giant litter box. Apparently, it’s also a big problem for backyard beach volleyball setups.
When we’re home, Lucy has to stay in a dog kennel (carrier) in the living room, more or less cat prison. Mrs. Chancelucky isn’t mean, she was told to do this by the vet. The kitten is on the rambunctious side. We also have the 4 gig idog who still spends time in the house. Actually, the vet first told us to take a baby crib and turn it upside down with the cat inside. We had a folding Graco baby crib from when our seventeen year old daughter didn’t walk. Lucy quickly figured out how to climb out of the thing even with a broken leg in a green cast.
The thing that’s mean and I don’t mean Mitt Romney mean is that the kennel is right next to the scratching post. After her captivity, Lucy does like to hit the scratching post before heading off to the bedroom, but while she’s inside the kitten does seem to like to come by and show off on the scratching post for her literally captive audience. In the meantime, I feel like we live inside a Petco store.
The good news is that one of these days, Lucy will get her cast removed and she can go back to her regular life. Actually, I have some qualms about this. We were walking the dog not long after Lucy reappeared and I spotted another neighborhood cat who clearly had broken a hind leg just like Lucy. Is there some crazed dog, raccoon, mythical creature who terrorizes cats? Perhaps Lucy was caught in some terrorist cat sweep and information was forced out of her by amoral information officers? Possibly, worst of all, it did cross my mind that there’s some sick human wandering our neighborhood. I think I’ve shared the story about our crazy neighbor who kidnapped our dog and tried to hold her for three thousand dollars ransom. We also have a neighbor girl (now a teenager) who kidnapped one of our cats and lied about it. On the other hand or is it paw, Lucy may have simply fallen out of a tree near the creek. I have this funny feeling that Lucy won’t go back to her regular life and may get transformed into an indoor cat though without the kennel in the living room.
For some reason, despite the impact it’s had on our household, it felt terribly flattering that Lucy did whatever she did to get back home that morning. It’s odd how species can’t exactly talk to one another, but every now and then something that looks a lot like trust appears anyway.
Chancelucky animal stories