Sunday, March 2, 2008

Everyday Kindness: Creature Comforts and Cuddles


Mia joined the family this week. She got here Monday night, walked straight out of her carrier and over to the spot I had decorated for her. She gulped down all the food, sniffed at the water bowl and the litter box and then jumped up on the bed and fell asleep.

I was so excited to introduce her to everyone that I immediately began to compose a “Mia is Here” post. Of course I ran upstairs at least a dozen times to check her out and to soothe Siren who was in his “room” just knowing something was up and he didn’t like it.

I held off on posting when I noticed how Mia hated the light being on and really didn’t like the flash from the camera. Then I saw how runny her eyes were. After I adjusted the lights in my bedroom/Mia’s room – eventually everyone will have a room but me – and gave up on the photos, she let me clean her eyes and went back to sleep. Late, late Monday night – Tuesday morning really – she decided to explore and made it all the way to her second favorite spot to sleep – between throw pillows on the love seat.

Grateful to have my bed back I fell asleep. Siren clued me in on the strange sounds coming from the living room by throwing himself against his screen door and howling. Mia was in the same spot from the night before sneezing up a storm and shaking. Since it is not unusual for cats to react this way to a new environment I didn’t panic.

As Tuesday progressed it was apparent that Mia was ill. Her gait was unsteady, originally I had blamed that on my slippery hardwood floor, but when she shook her head after sneezing she would often lose her balance. I also became concerned about her hearing – she didn’t respond when called and seemed startled when I walked into the room – she didn’t know I was there until she saw me.

Off to the vet we go on Wednesday. I’ve mentioned before how much I like this vet. Yes, he is incredibly handsome with the most lovely Spanish accent but what I truly appreciate is how much he loves his patients. “Hello sweet girl, nice to meet you” as he gently rubs Mia’s head – all the while staring into her runny eyes. He asks about Siren, he fondly remembers JR and remarks, as others have, how Mia is a lot like JR. He warms the stethoscope and listens, he whispers silliness to Mia while checking her ears, he watches very closely as we let her walk/stumble around the room. He scoops her up and hugs her, calling her “a sweet little old lady”.

“Sweet little old lady!?” – I was told Mia was 4. I couldn’t believe it when I heard myself snarl “Old? How old? I want an exact number!” – blessedly the vet knows the real me and saw that surprise and concern were getting the best of me. Mia is anywhere from 6 to 8 years old, maybe older. She barely weighs 5 pounds and I think most of that is fur. She has a severe upper respiratory infection that has affected/infected her eyes and ears as well. Her unsteadiness appears to be from weakness – so at least her paws were OK.

Armed with meds I took Mia home. The look of love and relief on her face when she realized she was coming back to the same place broke my heart and steeled my spirit. She’s really good at taking her meds, barely a sound and nothing more than a half-hearted push of her paw on my hand as I squirt stuff into eyes/ears/mouth. Then she sleeps. She hadn’t been eating Tuesday or Wednesday but by Thursday morning she was up to almost 3 full ounces of cat food crap – I’m giving her anything she wants until she’s stronger/fatter although I always leave the healthy dry stuff out as well.

Kitten steps, kitten steps.

I was a mess of “Oh Why Me” mixed with a giant dose of self-righteous judgment and anger. I was getting a strong, young, healthy female who could stand up to Siren. I’d been told she handled the tom-cats at the barn with ease. How the hell was that possible!? She could barely walk. What had her rescuers been (not) feeding her? Did the other cats steal her food? Was she so ill that she couldn’t absorb nutrients and gain weight? What about the vet who last saw her, a mere two days before she came to me. How did he miss the runny eyes? How did he not notice the way she walked. Thank goodness she had already been spayed – anesthesia would probably have killed her.

I spent a charming 24 hours alternating between bursting into tears and wanting to ring necks. Then it hit me – you can bark at the moon all you want, it will still be there. A poetic way of telling myself to shut the fuck up and get over myself.

The reality is that the people who rescued Mia DID save her life and they DID the best they could. She had been found in a parking lot and no one knows her story. They gave her food and shelter and set about trying to find her a better home. They DID more than most people do.

The reality is that the vet gives discounted rates to the rescue group who acted as liaison between Mia’s rescuer and me. He handles a lot of animals and DOES the best he can with the time and funds he has.

If you would like to do something go to The Animal Rescue Site - you can do as little as click each day to help feed rescued animals or you can click on the Petfinder.com link and adopt a loved one of your own.

You can also go to the ASPCA Shelter Search
and use their directory. Even if circumstances prevent adopting or donating you can volunteer a tiny bit of your time at a local shelter.

Mia seems to be feeling better. The sneezing has turned to sniffles and her eyes are much clearer. She turns when I call her name so I guess the ears are better to. And she’s eating regularly; she’s even trying out the healthy stuff although her preference is clearly junk food – that’s my girl!

I’m concerned about the long haul – will she ever be able to match paws with Siren, will tests reveal something more serious BUT …

Mia is home. She is exactly where she was supposed to be at this point in her life.

And she’s grateful.

In fact she wants to spread her love around. Mia would like to give her “cuddle photo” up top to:

Raven - for caring so much for Tara Grace and Angel

Jay - for being Bailey’s Buddy and Max’s too

Linda – actually Linda’s son – for loving Siren’s picture so much Mia wanted him to have hers

Misty – for giving me this idea with her lovely Maggie Mae button

Shelly - for all she did to make sure she took in a dog she could make happy

Jeni – for adding Jorge/Jorgetta to an already full house

and last but not least

Aunt Magnetbabe – for being a fierce warrior for all creatures, especially feral and stray cats

Yes, Mia left people out. She figures she’ll take new and better photos as she gets stronger and gains back her youthful glow. She’s already thinking about all the new poses she can try out and pass on as gifts to more friends.

Be Kind Out There

33 comments:

Odat said...

AWWWWWW.....I'm so glad she found you! I'm going to check that site out. I may want to get another dog soon. Give Mia a hug from me and the Snot dog.
Peace

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

What a pretty little thing Mia is. She found herself a good loving home. I think once Mia is feeling 100%, she will give Siren a run for his money. Give her a hug for me. Lisa

Jay said...

I had a cat adopt me about a year ago. Some people must have moved out of their apartment and just left cause she was obviously a pet. She would hang around my apartment and when I got home I would sit on the steps and she'd just jump into my lap.

I couldn't take her in cause I'm allergic to cats, but luckily the lady that lives upstairs took her in. So now she's a happy little house cat.

Hope Mia gets to feeling lots and lots better. She was lucky to find you!

Sparkling Red said...

Kitten steps... that's so perfect. :-)

Love to Mia and best wishes for her full return to health. She's lucky to have such a devoted "mom" to take care of her.

Raven said...

What a sweet beautiful new baby! She has found a great home for herself. Your description reminds me of Tara Grace whose wall art (sneeze a minute) still decorates corners of my home. She has been sneeze free for 8 months now following her dental surgery. Like Mia, Tara is tiny - 5 pounds. She SEEMS fragile, but don't you believe it. I think our delicate young babies would not have lived through their early experiences if they weren't very smart with strong instincts for survival. I look forward to hearing future adventures as Mia gains her strength and tests Siren's mettle.

kenju said...

Mia is so lucky to have you! I hope she feels better soon, and I hope that she is spry for her age (as I am....LOL).

meno said...

Thank you for taking care of this kitty. I just cannot abide animals being abused or neglected.

SnoopMurph said...

Mia is a sweetie and how great that you two crossed paths.

And yes, my son is mesmerized by the cats. I'll have to show him Mia's picture tomorrow morning. He walks from one side to the other, just looking. He has some cosmic connection with animals-they all seem to treat him like a little king, even the ornery ones.

Nice to meet you, Mia!

lisa said...

How wonderful that you got a new kitty, Dianne! She's adorable! And with your loving care I'm sure she'll turn into a healthy and strong opponent, um, I mean companion, for Siren. ;-)

I am sure she very much appreciates the new home and the good care.

When I was about 20 I was taking riding lessons at a local horse barn. There was a very friendly long haired black barn cat who would always come say hello, sit on the horses backs, rub against my legs. She was so sweet and so starved for affection from people that I asked the owners if I could take her home. She was really only there to catch mice anyway and, since she had recently given birth to a litter of kittens who were old enough to be on their own, there were plenty of other cats to take care of the mice. So I adopted her.

I took her to the vet. Her fur was so matted that she had to be shaved. Then she caught pneumonia. I took care of her as best I could. Giving her medicine, wrapping her in blankets and trying to keep her warm. She was two years old at the time. She recovered nicely and turned into the sweetest cat I've ever had. She was a good friend to me, and later to my husband and our three dogs, for another 16 years.

I wish for you and Mia the same long and lovely friendship as I had with my little barn kitty. :-)

Jeni said...

From the introductory picture you put up of Mia, she looks somewhat like our old cat here, Gracie. Is Mia's fur the kind that makes her look like a big old fluff ball, looking way bigger, heavier than she really is? That's how our Gracie is. She's old -16 years worth- a bit snooty at times, getting very senile too, forgetting little details like the location of her litter box and such. But she's been such a good, sweet cat, both Mandy and I are dreading the day lurking around the corner when she will no longer be with us. She accepted Jorge right away. When the kids brought Nina home last spring, Gracie was not impressed at all with the idea of sharing her space and Nina loved to torment Gracie from time to time too, which would get a surprising rise of energy from Gracie at times.
And Jorge is just the sweetest, cuddliest, most lovable cat -very, very easy around Maya who at times, forgets cats should be handled lightly, nicely, stroked lovingly, ya know. Hope Mia continues to improve and who knows, maybe you'll have a cat that will be able to go up against Siren and stay with you a lot longer than you may think is possible too.

Dianne said...

Oh Odat! I love the name "Snot dog" - and yes, definitely check out petfinder.com, they're just so much love out there just waiting for a home and I know you would be such a loving Mom to any one of them.

Jay - will all the home foreclosures abandoned pets are becoming an even greater problem. How great that your neighbor could take her in and what a lovely Uncle Jay you must be :)

Dianne said...

Lisa - I really do hope she'll give Siren a taste of his own attitude LOL - I'm glad that I kept them apart at the beginning since he surely would have gotten sick from her.

Dianne said...

thank you sparkling red :)
I find that if I chant "kitten steps" to myself I feel calmer.

Raven - Tara Grace doesn't look that small from her photos, wish I could achieve that effect :)

kenju - here's to spryness at any age. Cheers!

Dianne said...

Linda - animals can always tell a good soul, especially when it's young and fresh. Mia is delighted to meet all of you as well and looks forward to a long friendship. Too bad you don't live closer - your son could teach Siren some manners, ornery is Siren's middle name :)

Lisa - your barn cat story made me feel so much more hopeful. Thanks!!

Dianne said...

Awwww - meno, thank you! I know what you mean - animals, children, elderly folks - my inner lioness comes out whenever they're not cared for and respected.

jeni - Yep - you just described Mia's fur perfectly. And man, does she have a static cling issue LOL - as I brush her it stands up and then she looks like she's shreiking. How wonderful that Jorge and Maya are good together. You've got such a lovely bunch ya know :)

I responded to folks out of order cause I'm just a bit cockahoop this morning. Have to go to crappy 2nd job today so I'm on overdrive. If I overlooked anyone it's just cause I'm nuts.

CG said...

When we adopted Basil, he was recovering from surgery to pin a broken shoulder. He was thin and as soon as he got here developed cat food. He wouldn't eat..
Now he's fat Basil with barely a limp. I hope Mia picks up soon. She may be older than expected but our last rescue cat lived to age 19 so you could have many years ahead. Give her a cuddle from me :)

Dianne said...

Wow CG - to look at Basil's photo you'd think he was born fat and sassy :)

My sweet JR lived to 16 so it's not Mia's age that I care about. It's just that I hope she'll be strong enough to deal with Siren, I'd hate to keep them separate forever - I had to do that with JR and it was so disruptive.

Leighann said...

My husband and I often watch Animal Cops on Animal Planet.... it's just unreal some of the things that people do to animals.

I'll admit that I'm an animal lover from afar (meaning I want the animals far away from me lol) but I just can't tolerate when they're abused or neglected.

Good luck to you and Mia. You're a wonderful person and she's very lucky to have you!

Misty Dawn said...

Awwwwww - she's so beautiful! And what a beautiful person you are for taking her in - I too am so glad she found you!

Thank you so much for the photo of Mia - She'll look beautiful on my blog.

Jo said...

What a sweetie---well, both of you! I'm glad she's feeling a bit better, and is in such a loving home...I can only imagine her thriving under your care. The evolution of your emotions, from anger/frustration to understanding & compassion for those who have played some role in Mia's journey--what a lesson for me in grace :)

Dianne said...

thanks Leighann :)
siren was rescued by an NYPD officer. the stories she tells -

thanks Misty!! I thought of you right away when I was trying to figure out how to add text to a photo, this was a first try, I hope to get better at it

thank you jo - at some point Wednesday evening I was just so sick of myself and all my barking and snarling - like a real bitch ;)
it is what it is, thanks again for your kind words

Minnesotablue said...

Dianne: She is beautiful! And so lucky to have you. I know you will have many wonderful days enjoying each others companionship

Dianne said...

thank you minnesotablue!! she is a pretty girl :)

please tell magnetbabe that she's an Aunt.

Shelly said...

Wow. thanks. I'm honored. Love the kitty "cuddle up"!
Adopting strays is sometimes frustrating, but oh so very rewarding.
She's so cute! I think we need to adopt a kitty now...wonder how puppy will feel about that..hmmmmm.

Dianne said...

You're welcome shelly :)
your posts about the dogs really touched me. frustrating yet rewarding sure does describe it.
"puppy" seems so mellow and happy to have a home, bet he'd welcome a kitty - eventually! LOL

magnetbabe said...

What a lovely girl! I had been checking in every couple of days and wondered if I had misread when she was supposed to join your family.

You can feel betrayed by the shelter (I have a couple stories myself) and you can feel upset at the likely many people who have let Mia down throughout her life. But I truly think you two were meant to find each other. After a difficult few years she finally has a home and an amazingly thoughtful companion in you.

She is just adorable and the story of her being so relieved to return to the same place twice is heartbreaking, but you are giving this kitty a very happy ending. I can't wait to hear more and see more pictures!

And Siren might surprise you. If Mia is weak Siren might immediately sense his dominance and not go after her. Just a thought.

Congratulations!

Smalltown RN said...

What a pretty little kitty she is....she is so lucky to have found you and your loving care...with all this attention you are giving her I sure she will bounce right back....keep positive...you have done a wonderful thing for Mia....

Sleepypete said...

Thanks for the visit :-)

Sounds like you have a lucky kitty who's found a very loving home :-)

May she be around for a long time and get strong enough to give Siren a run for her money too :-)

Akelamalu said...

Mia sure landed on her paws when she got you! :)

Dianne said...

Hi Aunt Magnetbabe! We were Looking for you :) The other night Mia's claws got stuck on my shirt and I called her Mia Magnet :)
We're planning a slide show as soon as her eyes feel better - she hates light right now.

thank you smalltown rn - she's already looking much better than when I posted on Sunday.

thank you so much sleepypete - I enjoyed visiting your blog and I'll be back

akelamalu - "landed on her paws" - I like that. thanks

Michael Manning said...

I love animal adoption stories like this one! It will take time to introduce the cats to one another, but I predict all will be well. 4 is young to me.

Dianne said...

We're waiting for her to get stronger Michael and then the intros can begin!

fermicat said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but wanted to wish Mia all the best. We took in what we thought was a kitten last year, and she turned out to be around 2 years old - just small and undernourished. She also had some health problems that could not be fixed and it broke our hearts. I'm glad this worked out for you both.