The sad and confused cat you see on the right isn’t some stray I just found. She’s one of my own cats. Here’s what she normally looks like. Thursday evening, she looked nothing like the beautiful young cat she is. She seemed like a dehydrated and emaciated little girl who was dying.
As many of you know, I’m a sucker for homeless animals, so I have a houseful of “fur people.” (I have another purring cat in my lap as I write this.) So there are enough of them running around as though they own the place — which they do — that I sometimes don’t pay attention if I haven’t noticed one of them for a couple of days.
Bessie was one of a couple of sisters who I took in about four years ago. Neither ended up being adoptable, so I kept them. (Here’s Bessie’s story from last year, and here’s the story of her sister, Molly.) They were feral, and they still have a lot of fear in them. They rarely even let me touch them, which is why it didn’t seem odd when I didn’t see Bessie for a couple of days.
I had realized vaguely that I hadn’t seen her for days, but I didn’t worry about it. By Wednesday night, I was concerned enough to at least search for her. When I saw her looking back at me from under the bed, though, I wasn’t concerned. I figured she was just hiding again.
By Thursday evening, I realized that she was still under the bed — in exactly the same spot. When I reached to try to touch her, she sliced me with her claws and threatened me with her teeth. She didn’t want to be messed with. I was about to leave her alone when I noticed something. One of her feet was extending up to the bottom of the box springs. Even when the rest of her moved, that foot — paw, if you prefer — stayed where it was.
If you’ve had cats, you might know how much they love to tear and play with the sheet of useless fabric that comes on the bottom of most box springs. (Every cat I’ve ever had seems to love doing it.) That fabric is made is some type of really strong fibers that I can’t identify. That’s what it looks like on the right after years of having cats rip at it. I never look down there, so I had no idea it was that bad.
Somehow, Bessie had gotten one of her paws wrapped in some of the torn strands of that fabric — and she had been stuck there with one paw trapped above her, apparently for days.
I have no idea why she didn’t cry out or make some noise. But she laid there with no food or water, probably since about Saturday (since that’s the last time I remember seeing her).
I had to take most of the bed apart to get to her, because any attempt to pick up the box springs just pulled her paw tighter. And until I actually got her out, I didn’t know if she was caught on something sharp, so I thought I might be ripping her paw if I pulled it too much. She continued to fight me like a cornered animal who expected to die, but I finally got her out.
She was weak and emaciated. When I took her to a water bowl, she collapsed next to it and drank and drank and drank. She ate a little bit of food and then she drank more water. Then she curled up into a ball and collapsed in exhaustion. I watched her all night and it seems as though she’s going to be OK.
It occurred to me afterwards that it’s not always big things that we have to worry about. Sometimes, it’s the little things — right under our noses — that become big things after it’s too late for us to do anything about them.
For the past few nights, I slept just a couple of feet from a little feline who was progressively getting closer to death. It would have been just a little thing to check on her days ago, but I didn’t.
It makes me wonder what other little things are happening right under my nose — or under my bed — that I’m ignoring until it’s too late. I’m glad I was able to rescue Bessie in time, but I appreciate the object lesson that left me wondering all night what other little things in my life I need to pay more attention to.