A cat community lives in our yard. It started when we got chummy with a neighbor’s cat and slipped her the occasional treat. Those of you who have cat community dependents already know where this is going. Along the way, her human got deeply into meth and neglected this beautiful tortie, who decided her chances were better in our yard.
One day we woke up and realized we had a community of cats. Some of them had no fear of mankind. But as the generations of cats came and went, fewer trusted those who went on two legs. Until George.
Even as a kitten, George had no fear of people. Twice he jumped through the door behind Molly when she came in for a rest from her labors. The second time he was quite at home.
George began to stalk me when I walked the dogs. He was alongside of them when they tried to do their business. The dogs freaked out, and refused to cooperate. Any attempts to discourage George were ineffective. It was annoying and endearing.
When George was 16 months old, Molly was murdered by some neighbors who left their aggressive dogs run loose through the neighborhood. The dogs tag-teamed her and tore her to pieces. The entire community mourned her demise with me. Finally my husband, who was worried that my tears would flood the house, said he thought we should bring George indoors. We named him George Bailey because it was Christmas. George immediately claimed me as his human.
He was a happy cat, and preternaturally well-behaved indoors . He came when I called him, sang to me when he couldn’t find me and put on some amazing aerial stunts to rid the house of flies. But one day he jumped up and when he hit the floor again, he began to scream in pain.
We took him to the vet. She thought he had pulled a muscle on his right hind leg and sent us home with pain-killer and antibiotics. A month later, he was limping across the living room when he fell down and screamed in pain again. The veterinarian took an x-ray and said on one of his femoral heads had splintered. She thought the other side might be cancer.
George next visited the University of Florida’s small animal clinic for a second opinion. George’s resident, Dr. Cuddy, assisted by student Blaine, examined him carefully and gently. She said that he did not have cancer, but he had broken his femoral heads. He needed a femoral head ostectomy.
The (eek expensive) operation went well, but Georgie refused to eat or use the litter box after surgery. They were going keep him a second night to make sure he was eating and voiding, but asked me to come in to see him. As soon as the little fellow heard my voice, his ears perked up. He emitted a relieved purr when I petted him. They decided he could go home.
That was in June. George may never fly straight up as he used to, but he’s healing and adjusting to the changes in his life. Last Sunday he discovered that even if he couldn’t leap up on my bed, he could push-off with his hind legs and use his claws to pull himself up. I’m so proud of him.