Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kitten Resilience

A few months ago, I had an important decision to make.

Where would Hobbes get spayed?

The idea of major surgery for my kitten made me really nervous. When my mom was seven months pregnant with me, her cat Jezebel, who was only seven years old, went to the vet for a routine teeth cleaning, and died. She had a previously undiagnosed heart condition that was discovered when she couldn't withstand the anesthesia. Obviously I have no memory of Jezebel, yet it was a traumatic event for Mom, and some of that sadness must have passed on to me. “Routine surgery” aren't words that reassure me.

I called a mobile clinic, which was $120 cheaper than the least expensive vet quote I’d received, and something in my voice must have told the woman on the other end that I was a crazy cat mom. She was incredibly reassuring, and told me that she takes her dog, who is her best friend, to the vet that performs surgeries in the mobile clinic. I put the date on the calendar and tried to forget about it.

Yet June 23 crept closer and closer, and finally, I found myself removing Hobbes’ food at 10 PM the night before her surgery. She was a little confused, but not very mad. She did try to break into a leftover pizza box on the counter around three in the morning. Luckily I woke up and was able to prevent her from eating the crumbs!

The clinic was stationed at a local PetCo about thirty minutes away, so Hobbes and I left early the next morning. I had expected to drop her off, leave to do some writing, and return to pick her up. I hadn't anticipated the line I’d wait in, or the conversations I’d have while I was waiting. I’d underestimated, foolishly, the power of pets to bring people together. While not everyone was quite as crazy as me, all the people in line cared about their pets, and had stories to share. I heard the story of a lady whose cat died while she was having heart surgery, but she had recently adopted a new beautiful white cat, who was there with her to be spayed. I met several lovely cats, included two black cats whose cat mom was a sweet ten-year-old girl who hoped to be a veterinarian one day. I even found out that there are good places in the area to go strawberry picking.

Hobbes is a very vocal cat, but once we got in line with all those other cats and humans, she quieted down and only made a peep once or twice. I was so proud of her! I dropped her off, and then went to a local Panera Bread, put the finishing touches on an Arkleus article, and ate lunch.

Hobbes looked like she’d been infected by zombies when I picked her up. She was absolutely silent the whole ride home, but did smile at me. The clinic vets told me to keep her in a confined space, so Aaron and I hastily set up a recovery camp in the bathroom with her litter box and water bowl and bed. Even though she tried to wander around, we locked her in the bathroom, and I was very glad we did. She tried to climb into the litter box, but was apparently still in pain and couldn't make it, so she peed twice on the floor. She never has any accidents, so I know she made an effort to get in the box. In fact, she didn't even pee in the car ride on the way home.

Hobbes usually complains very loudly if she gets shut in the bathroom. That night, however, she quietly climbed in her bed and stayed there for the entire night. In the morning, I fed her and let her out of the bathroom. She still looked drugged, but she did eat, and then she climbed up onto our bed and, according to Aaron, stayed there for the rest of the day. He was not feeling well either, so the two of them laid in the bed together all day.

When I arrived home from work that night, Hobbes looked one million percent better. (Aaron was better too!) She greeted me, meowed at me, and was eager to eat. She jumped into the window to watch me in the garden, and had plenty to say. I had been worried when she was so quiet, and was glad to hear her little voice and watch her personality return.

Other than her shaved belly, there’s almost no indicator that Hobbes recently underwent major surgery. She’s fierce, that little one, and she has a lot to teach me.

I’d dreaded that surgery for months, but now it’s over, and Hobbes is healthy and happy. She was never agitated, but was very calm and trusting throughout the entire experience. When I go through rough experiences, am I as calm and trusting? When change occurs in my life, or I face a particularly stressful challenge, I can know that in a few years, I’ll look back and realize how much I learned from that time. I’m learning to trust through difficult times, and seek to grow rather than to worry.

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