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A Horrible Weekend

March 23, 2014

(I am, for once, leaving out my usual format for one long and straightforward text. I’ll be back with the usual format next post.)

So this weekend has been absolutely horrible. I was called yesterday on my way to work by my mom, and immediately I heard that something was not right. She told me that our cat, Rufus, had been rushed to the vet Friday evening/night. She was out at the time at a birthday party, while my stepdad and brother were home.

We live on the 11th floor (the top floor) which we share with only one pair of neighbours, and our verandas are divided with a 2 meter high fence. Thankfully, Rufus has never dared to go outside the railing, but we know that he somehow got over the fence to the neighbours one time a few weeks ago. There has been some neigbour disputes over a topic of sunscreens, and the mood hasn’t been the best, and they clearly stated their dismay over Rufus’ visit to them. Which, of course, is perfectly fine, and we went to get him back at once.

So it’s Friday afternoon, and Rufus has been outside on the veranda for maybe half an hour when my stepdad goes to call him in. He doesn’t see him immediately, but he does see a blood stain. Our veranda is very long and winds around the entire apartment, so he follows the bloodstains while calling Rufus. He eventually finds him at the end of the veranda, huddled next to our other veranda door (leading to the master bedroom), bleeding from his nose. He immediately calls out to my brother and they rush to the (thankfully 24/7) veterinary ER.

This is the backdrop for the phone call I receive Saturday morning. They have been up all night, frantically awaiting any news on his conditon. When she calls me they have just confirmed that he will live, but if they hadn’t gotten there when they did, he would have died. I can’t properly describe how I felt when I heard this, but I numbly awaited answers to all the questions piled up in my head.

How was he? How hurt was he? And, most hauntingly, what the hell had happened?

And this is where things get murky. First of all, despite all the blood, there was no outward damage to his body – at all. Thankfully he is perfectly fine (and this was reconfirmed today) physically, with no damage to either vital organs or skeleton, bones, nothing. But what is most sickening about the whole scenario is that the very real damage to him is head trauma. He has been hit with a blunt object, causing the nose bleed and the malfunctioning of vital nerve systems, which on Friday reduced and even failed his ability to breath by himself. We have gone over and over the possible causes of this, and there are only two options that are possible:

1) We had a tabletop leaned up against said fence, which had fallen down when my stepdad went and found Rufus. If he was hit by this, it would certainly have hurt him – but how could he have been hurt by a tabletop only in the head? As the veterinarian said, when cats experience being trapped/hit by objects (the few times they’re not quick enough to get away from them) they just about always get their head out of harm’s way. And if the head is in harm’s way, so is the rest of the body. If Rufus was underneath the tabletop and made it slide and fall down, he would run out of it, or if he wasn’t fast enough, his body would be damaged to. Not to mention that he would probably be stuck underneath as well. So the tabletop theory just doesn’t match with the damage he has, so unless it was an extreme case of freak accident where he got hit by the tabeltop but only in the head, that can’t be it. Which leads to the only other option,

2) The neighbours did it. This is a horrible, horrible option, and one we don’t take lightly on. I refuse to believe that anybody in their right mind would do this, but when regarding the damages and trying to find the cause, we must be open to all options. As there is no other blunt objects for Rufus to be hurt by on the veranda, our other theory is that Rufus got over to the neighbours’ side, in the process using the tabletop as “jumping point”, thereby making it slide down, and once there, hit by the neighbour and afterwards thrown over back to our side.

It makes me sick to write this, and it makes me ever sicker to even consider that someone would do this. We have no proof whatsoever, and we will never be able to prove it either. It’s horrible to even think of accusing anybody of doing this, but when we try to consider the options of what happened on Friday night, this sadly adds up pretty well. We know that they hate cats, and both Rufus and us in particular, and they’ve been waving a broomstick at him before – so, you know, if this were a TV show, it’d seem very likely to be them. But again – I want to make it very clear that I have nothing against these people personally, and am in no way accusing them of doing this – it’s just that it’s so incredibly difficult to see how else this could have happened.

I am of course hoping and praying to god that they didn’t do this, but the worst part is that there’s really no way to prove either their guilt nor their innocence. We know from the vet that he was struck with a blunt object, and if we rule out the tabletop theory (which the vet found to be very little plausible) then somebody must have struck him – and there are only two people who could have done it. This feeling is incredibly uncomfortable and really one of the worst I have ever had to deal with. To feel so insecure about someone’s true nature is highly unsettling and makes our whole family feel very unsafe and unsettled.

Now, of course, the absolute most important part of this whole story is Rufus. We went to see him today, and it was a sad sight. Yesterday he was in this oxygen cage to help him breathe, but today he is finally able to breathe himself, so he was in his own cage today. We got to pet him and say hi, and it was just so incredibly both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time to see him and feel him alive after fearing for his life for so long. (Or, you know, it hasn’t even been 48 hours, but not knowing is the absolute worst feeling in the whole world.) Other good news is that he both eats, drink and pees as usual, which the vet said was very good, as it proves that none of his essential bodily functions are damaged.

Now, there are sadly still some issues to resolve. While his physical state is good, there is still no confirmed answer to what damages his head might have taken. When we met him today, he had an eyelid deficiency/prolapse which made him look a little wonky, and we don’t know yet what other nerves, systems and functions that might have been damaged. Now I am only so incredibly thankful that he will live, and that he will be alright, and that he is all fine physically. But to imagine that he might now be retarded – whether in a big or small scale- is truly heartbreaking. He is such a wonderful, feisty, curious, loving, and devoted kitten, not even one year old, and while I would love him no less for any deficiency he might have gotten from this incident, it would just seem so incredibly unfair for an animal so young to be denied a full-functioning life.

So the status per now is that we might hopefully get him back tomorrow, and we won’t know the reach of the damages from the head trauma for some days, maybe even a week. What the vet said, though, that I find highly plausible, is that there is a swelling in the skull that might put pressure and squeeze some nerves, creating these deficiencies, which means that when the swelling goes down the nerves will function again and he will be back to normal. It should also be added that when we saw him today he was pretty high on methadone, so of course we can’t expect him to be perky as usual. I don’t care how long he has to stay at the vet or how long we have to let him recuperate just as long as he gets well.

This whole episode has been my first meeting with near-death in close family (yes, I am so lucky), and to be honest, I had never guessed that Rufus would be the first animal I needed to worry about – what with my bunny Tøffen at seven years and counting and all. In fact, the thought that I would have to worry about Rufus for at least another ten years was just way out of my head. But it’s happened, and it went fine, but it’s really given me a shock and a reminder of how precious life is and how dangerous it is to live. No matter how much you try to take care of the people (and animals) you love, you can’t ever protect them a hundred percent, and if/when something happens to them, you feel so lost and hopeless and helpless and it’s just excruciating. Many might argue that it’s not as bad as if it’s happening to a person, and I can (thankfully) neither confirm nor deny that, but what I do know is that death, and the threat of death, be it to an animal or a human being, is all-powerful and it takes hold of you, strangling you so you can’t breathe. We will thankfully get Rufus back, and hopefully with his full senses returned, and I will be eternally grateful to that. I have learned that you should never take anything for granted, and it is so important to take care of the people around you and to always make sure they know you love them.

And for the pets, maybe an extra treat and some extra snuggle time will give them an idea of your love for them – because they are truly dependent on only you.

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