April 20, 2021
Early last week, Olivia Murderpaws was finally spayed. The surgery is common, of course, but serious, with a ten-day recovery period and stitches, so she was supposed to wear the cone of shame. To no one’s surprise, she figured out how to get out of it in record time. Suzanne went out and bought a doughnut type cone, and Olivia managed to escape from that one, too. Oh, well, no cone for her.
Fast forward a couple of days and OM is lethargic, not eating, and seems to be running a fever. Suzanne calls the vet, the vet says bring her in, and I spend the afternoon sitting in the vet’s office parking lot while they run increasingly expensive tests — x-rays, bloodwork, an ultrasound, more bloodwork, urine test, kidneys. Olivia’s running a high fever, but they can’t find a cause. However, while there’s no evidence of infection around her stitches, she’s managed to pull a couple of them loose, and the vet has to re-tie them. The stitches must be protected, so if she won’t wear a cone, she instead gets to wear this horrible mesh t-shirt.
Needless to say, she’s not happy about it. In her zest to get it off, she gets her claws tangled in the mesh and flips out. So 7AM Saturday morning, on her way to work, Suzanne knocks on my door and asks if I will check on Olivia throughout the day and make sure she hasn’t gotten tangled again. Of course I will, is the obvious answer, but also, isn’t there some other option?
Why, yes, there is. The vet said she could try using the sleeve of a long-sleeved t-shirt, but Suzanne has no long-sleeved cotton t-shirts, so she’s going to hit up the thrift store later and try to find one. I, however, do have a long sleeved t-shirt, which I’m willing to give to the cause. So Suzanne goes to work, and I dig out my t-shirt, cut it up, then go inside and brave the dressing of the kitten. The kitten is surprisingly non-resistant (worryingly lethargic, in fact), so I manage to get her out of the mesh shirt and into the cotton sleeve without too much trouble. Basically, it was like putting her into a sock with a hole at both ends — I pulled it over her head and down.
A little while later, Suzanne comes home on her work break to give Olivia her medicine. Olivia’s managed to get the sleeve half off, so Suzanne decides it needs arm holes. It takes both of us to get her into the armhole version, but it works. And it does seem safer than the mesh, because there’s nothing for her to get her claws tangled in.
Suzanne goes back to work and I go back to my tiny house. Probably a couple of hours later, I walk outside and discover a piece of black fabric next to my door.
I look at the fabric and think, Huh, I must have dropped the shirt remnants. But that’s awfully small to be the entire rest of the shirt. Did I cut the second sleeve off? Did Suzanne?
Also, why did I bring the fabric back to the tiny house? What am I going to do with scraps of t-shirt? Why didn’t I just toss them in the garbage can inside?
Also… also… also… (By now I think I was probably not breathing…) … WAIT! This piece of fabric has arm holes cut into it!!!
The back door to Suzanne’s house is slightly ajar. The sick kitten — who is never allowed outside! — must have escaped. Somehow she’s also gotten out of her safety sleeve, stripping down right next to my door.
I look around wildly. In that moment, I was the mother of the kidnapped child, realizing the child is gone, only her jacket left behind. I’m imagining having to tell Suzanne that Olivia, the sick kitten she just spent a week’s salary on, is gone. Just… gone. Loose in the big wide world.
And there’s no sign of her. I can’t see her anywhere. I hurry to the driveway, looking under Suzanne’s trailer, where she’s hidden on previous escape attempts.
I think maybe she went back inside, because it’s not a nice day — it’s cold and gray — so I run into the house and search for her there. She’s not in her cat cave, she’s not on the chair, she’s not on Riley’s bed, she’s not on Suzanne’s bed, she’s not on either of the window sills that she likes.
I run back outside and search some more. Around to the front of the house. Is she on the steps? Is she in the straw where the dog likes to sleep? Check under the van. Back to the back yard. Kitten, kitten, where is the kitten? I’m imagining her being gone forever, just disappearing. Milk carton kitten. I want to call the police and put out an Amber Alert. She has GOT to be somewhere.
Inside the house again, searching all the places. Under the bed, in the bathroom, in the laundry room closet. There is no kitten.
She’s not a dog, she doesn’t come when called. But I call anyway.
And it turns out, she does know her name, and she does come when called, because there, wandering out of the depths of the garden, is Explorer Girl, saying, “Who, me? Were you worried about little old me? But I’m just out for a stroll.”
Of course, I don’t want to scare her into running. So I dash into the house and grab the bag of cat treats. I try to entice her to me and she’s not interested until Gina comes over and says, “Oh, treats? Yes, I will eat that, thank you,” and then Olivia wants to have what Gina’s having.
As soon as she comes close enough, I grab her, and carry her inside, where I try to put her back into her sleeve. The good news is that she was clearly feeling better, because she was NOT having any part of that. The great news is that she didn’t get hit by a car, chased by one of the neighboring dogs, or permanently lost while wandering down the city streets.
Suzanne would really like Olivia Murderpaws to be an inside cat, but I’m just not convinced that’s ever going to work out. Even while sick & running a fever, Explorer Girl wants to explore!