Story of a Cat

I’ve hinted for awhile of a change happening around the McCoy-Dellecese household. Well, here it is! Our last two weekends have been life-changing — we’ve endured some of the happiest, scariest, most stressful moments we’ve ever had as a couple. It all started when…

Two Fridays ago, Dave and I went out for a bite to eat and a drink or two at the bar in the basement of Beardslee Castle [which happens to be the site of our reception (Sign #1), and is undoubtedly haunted — very cool place] with our friends, Tom and Christine. A good time was had and, when it was time to leave, one of the employees told us of a different exit to use. (Sign #2) After ascending the stairs, we turned toward the car, and were immediately approached by a highly affectionate, clearly sick, EXTREMELY smelly cat. He rubbed up against our legs and wouldn’t stop talking. We all looked at each other, wondering where he was from, if he lived at the castle, 3/4 of us thinking about taking him home. Tom talked us all out of it quickly and we left, deflated. On the way home, we chattered about him (Sign #3 — I always refer to animals as females, but knew this guy was a man without catching a glimpse of…anything), deeming him “Dudley” due to his funny, drunk careening while trying to walk straight.

The next morning, Dave awoke to my staring eyes. I’d been up all night, wondering about the cat. Once it got brighter outside, we threw on crappy clothes, grabbed an old towel, and (without thinking much about it) hopped in the car. On the way there, I called my sister for advice — whether or not to bring him to the humane society (we decided against this, thinking it’d cost money, he might get put down if they needed to do lots of surgery, etc.), could I catch any diseases by handling him, how would I know if he was rabid, etc.

Upon arrival, Dave took hold of his senses, realizing that we were probably trespassing and that we could be arrested if anyone was there. My quick temper flared up at him, knowing that we had to just LOOK; I didn’t expect in the slightest for him to still be around, given that the area was farmland and woods (and that he was probably just a barn cat). While in the middle of exchanging spats, Dave followed my frantic searching. In mid-sentence (about the fact that a gardener was on-premises) he turned and saw the cat, asleep (and near death) in a self-made nest within a large bush/tree. His voice changed instantly and his words made no sense — “You mean, THAT?! *pause* I’ll get the car!!!” (Sign #4)

Our hearts were in our throats; he pulled up and I still hadn’t gotten him out of the brush. I made noises to get the little guy’s attention; the only energy he had was to look up with his eyes, meow silently, and put out a paw. (Sign #5) I burst out in tears and scooped him up (using the towel). He was so frail, his nose was running, he reeked of his own urine, but he seemed 100% trusting. He meowed, a little scared of what we were doing with him, but his energy was gone; he seemed as if he’d been preparing for death, and we interrupted.

Shortly after grabbing some food and a couple of items (by the way, we’re not cat people — you’d think I’d have mentioned that by now) we brought the kitty home, where we stayed for a few hours. It was pretty clear that he was sick in the terms that we were used to — coughing and sneezing. But there was more wrong. I guessed that he either had ear mites or an ear infection since he still couldn’t “walk a straight line.” Knowing that he was starving, he still couldn’t eat or drink without having a sneezing fit. We decided to call around for an animal hospital that was open on a Saturday.

Luckily, we could get into the New Hartford Animal Hospital, so we quickly jumped in the car. He was on my lap, in a small new bed Dave had bought him, and quickly failing. While he was bothered by the car earlier, this time he was calm — thanks to the 1940s XM/Sirius radio channel (Sign #6 — what other cat likes oldies and classics?!).

Upon arrival, we brought the still-nameless cat to the exam room, where he was weighed, checked for a temp (nada), and eventually just taken from us. We had lots of questions, and the doctor was great. It turned out that his kidneys were already failing, so he was being put on an IV immediately, and given antibiotics for an upper-respiratory infection. In the end, he was hospitalized for several days, brought back for an emergency visit the next weekend (he wasn’t responding right to the medication), and we’ve been fearful about his health ever since, but that’s mostly because we’ve been on the look-out for issues.

But, he’s massively improved. Although he has had setbacks, we’ve got an appointment coming up (and I’m praying we won’t need to visit the ER before that!) to see what we might have missed. His breathing is still a little strained at times and his balance may never be perfect (he has a head tilt, too, that may be permanent — but it’s adorable and doesn’t bother him), but his personality and ability to show his gratitude and happiness is infectious. Oh, and he’s got a name — Beardslee. (Although, we call him “buddy” and I, especially, call him “Boo” ; I found out from my mother last weekend that, apparently, that was a nickname that people called my dad and, now, my brother. My dad passed away when I was young and I’d never heard the nickname. Sign #7)

And, I’m still concerned that we took him from some family. He’s a year old, has claws (and will continue to — we’re not declawing him; we DID get him fixed, however, but his “friendliness” and chubby testosterone-induced cheeks will stay with him forever) but never uses them, gets picked up without being too bothered, and is just the sweetest cat I’ve ever encountered. The nurses and doctors assured us that someone outgrew the “cute kitten” phase and made him an outdoor cat (or got rid of him) — an outdoor cat in the boonies, where male cats will chase female cats for literally many, many miles, only to get lost. He’d been in fights. He was on his death bed. I have to be resigned to the idea that he’s ours, that we spent a fortune (as Dave calls him, “the most expensive free cat EVER”, but we could care less about the cash) saving his life, that whomever had him before didn’t find him fast enough. *sigh* I’m even a little scared to post this in case the family happens upon it — but it needs to be announced, ‘cuz it’s HUGE for us.

We’ve learned a lot, especially as our future as parents. I’m the disciplinarian but the provider (usually of food, and I’m generally more attuned to his health issues); Dave’s the worrier but loves with 100% of his heart. Dave has also overcome some of the icky stuff of “parenthood” — potty time and the surprises brought on by illness. We’re working on giving him enough attention but still maintaining our relationship; for awhile there, his illness was ALL we thought about, talked about, worried about. Took a bit of a toll, but it’s a healthy, good lesson to learn.

So, help us welcome Beardslee to the McCoy-Dellecese household. We hope he’ll be here to add continued humor and warmth (and countless other positives!) to our family for many years to come!