Thursday, March 02, 2006


She was hideous when I first saw her -- head half shaved, criss-crossed with wicked rows of black stitches, one ear in shreds, and half her side shaved and stiched too. She'd apparently lost a fight with a racoon. The stiches looked like zippers against her pink flesh and white fur.

It was Martha, of course, who found her, under a bush. Her owner was away, so Martha took her to the vet. It was a good chunk of money to patch her up. Her owner, when she came back, said "oh -- I would have just had her put her down." So since we were willing to shell out, and to nurse her, we got a cat.

She was a tiny thing, and she'd been living hard even before that -- she weighed only a few pounds.. She lay flat on the bed like a dirty white child's sock. But when I found an undamaged bit of her to pet, she purred.

"She did that at the vet," said Martha, ruefully. "we were looking her over, deciding whether we should even try to put her back together, and I stroked her, and she started purring. I couldn't believe it Well, after that --"

She was embarassed, as she always is about spending money on animals. I always say to think about all the much stupider things people spend much more money on -- luxury automobiles, for example, or fancy clothes, or jewellery. If they're not embarassed about that, why we should be embarassed about spending money patching up cats?

Even patched up, she suffered from heart trouble and asthma. Her purchase on life was tenuous. But she doubled her weight over the next few weeks, and within a couple weeks had blossomed into a beatiful little white cat, with arresting dark eyes, fluffy and dainty, a perfect old lady's cat. With an old lady's cat's name: Angel. I was a little ashamed of the name, and always made a point of telling people we hadn't named her. But in fact it was a good name for her: she was ethereal and light as a feather. A visitor in this world.

That was a year or two ago. After living with us for couple months, she suddenly found her voice. She'd barely made a sound, up till then; we weren't even sure she could meow. But it seemed she'd finally built up enough confidence to ask for dinner. And pretty soon she'd built up enough to insist on dinner, like any other cat.

This morning I heard an odd sound, like a brief moan of overstressed machinery. Couldn't tell where it was coming from. I sat down at the computer & did a bit of work. There was the sound again.

I got up and found her half-under the easy chair, twisted around as if she had been fighting with it, her claws fixed in the upholstery. My first thought was that somehow she had gotten trapped under it. Her eyes were all pupil, staring hard. She was perfectly still.

I gently unhooked her claws. She wasn't trapped. But she wasn't okay either. She writhed in slow motion once, with her forelegs held out stiff in front of her. Made that queer noise again. I think she was trying to stand, but her body wasn't following instructions. I stroked her, looking for injuries, though I didn't really expect to find any. I know neurological damage when I see it. Poison, or a stroke, was my guess.

She calmed a little as I stroked her. Closed her eyes, and began to purr.

I woke Martha, and she took Angel to the veterinary clinic, while I took Alan to school and went on to work. She called me here at work, not long ago. Angel had purred while she was holding her after the final injection, too. "I cried and cried," admitted Martha.

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