Halloween and Hail Mary

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Please note that this blog is not about the Lord or any of his relatives. This blog is about my cat (yes, I am one of 'those' people). I realize cats aren't everyone's cup of tea, so you can choose to either continue reading or make an escape!

Hail Mary is my 15 year old lady-cat. I adopted her one and a half years ago from Animal Services (yes, there are jerks out there who dump their elderly pets at shelters). Anyway, as I have mentioned in prior blogs and on my spark-page, I am relatively new to this yuppie-utopia of a city. I wanted a pet, but I knew I had limitations. I couldn't make a lengthy time-commitment due to my somewhat precarious future. I mapped-out my options accordingly and marched over to the shelter and asked them if they had any elderly cats in need of a home. Enter Hail Mary.

Her temporary shelter-name at the time was Tippy------for good reason. Like the Philistine god Dagon in the 1st book of Samuel, chapters 5-7, she tips over. A lot. Hail Mary has a neurological condition called cerebellar hypoplasia (CH), the equivalent of Cerebral Palsy in humans. Hail Mary's condition is mild to moderate, which means she can walk and use the litter box. She can feed herself more or less without a problem, but her head tremors mean eating takes time, effort, and concentration. Hail Mary is unable to jump-up and is strictly a floor cat. Her walk is like a cross between a Clydesdale horse and a prancing Gisele Bundchen. Each step is deliberate. It has to be. When she is not vigilant, she falls over. She also can't really run. When she does decide to chase something, she hops around exactly like a rabbit. Once she gets hopping, she can't stop. She either crashes into the nearest wall, or throws herself down flat on the floor. It is all very endearing. Here is a link to a YouTube clip featuring a CH kitty in case any of you are curious:


In addition to her neurological condition, the vet was concerned that 'Tippy' was suffering from a broken heart. Having suddenly found herself abandoned and caged, far away from the home and family she had known since kittenhood, Hail Mary no longer trusted humans and had lost interest in life. To add final insult to injury, the vet told me Hail Mary's kidneys were failing. All in all, she was a toothless, medical, emotional mess of a cat. The shelter staff were not very optimistic. "Hail Mary" seemed like an absolutely appropriate name for this particular kitty who needed both intercession and luck.

I am very inexperienced when it comes to cats. We did not have pets growing up. Both my parents come from country backgrounds and are of the opinion that animals----incuding cats and dogs-----have jobs to do and belong outside. As an adult, and prior to my adopting Hail Mary, I have only had one cat. This first cat-----an orange tabby----died 4 years ago and I still miss her everyday. I know some of you have experienced this: pets love us and somehow carve-out a very real place for themselves in our hearts. But then they die, and it really sucks. It took 4 long years for me to even consider another pet. Anyway, to get back on topic, I worried that it would be foolhardy for me to adopt a cat like 'Tippy' who had all these medical and emotional issues when I lacked any and all experience with special-needs animals. But I made the decision then and there to trust my instincts and to take the plunge: I took Hail Mary home. Making a commitment to a cat like Hail Mary seemed like a way for me to somehow honor the memory of my first cat. And it has paid off. In spades.

Thanks to a calm home environment, excellent nutrition and vet care, Hail Mary began to thrive. It took some time, but she stopped sleeping 23 hours per day. She started cleaning herself. After 6 months, she started to meet me at the door when I got home (not an easy feat for a CH kitty) and she started to play. Finally, after almost an entire year, she began to purr. Now she is a happy, silly, open-hearted girl and I love coming home to her absurd, wobbly, furry presence. Here is a photo of Hail Mary in her Halloween costume for the contest hosted by her vet clinic (Krysscott, I hope it meets with your approval and expectations):

* No, Hail Mary did not like wearing her costume
** The photo shoot took about 90 seconds (at which point I removed the costume)
*** No, I do not dress-up my cat on a regular basis

Hail Mary had her most recent blood-panel a few weeks ago. It came back with borderline normal values, which means her kidney disease is in slight remission. I like to think her name somehow 'worked'. She probably doesn't have all that much time left, but she will enjoy her last months and/or years. I am making absolutely sure of it.

xox spark-friends, and Happy month of Halloween!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Bah, why did it tag my comment to the wrong thread.

    Still love Miss HM Kitty, she's a beauty .. but going to add my comment to the "right" thread now! :)
    2422 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/30/2014 2:23:01 PM
    That is a hilarious costume! Very apropos emoticon
    2433 days ago
    For this reason alone, I have added you. You are emoticon
    2433 days ago
  • no profile photo CD1904002
    Thank you for taking on a cat like her - I always find it heartbreaking as well when people give up animals they have had for years. My philosophy is that I ALWAYS adopt adult animals - they need the love more and I truly believe they know when they have been rescued and show that love and appreciation.
    2436 days ago
    Love this pic.
    2440 days ago
    I loved everything about this post...the picture, the content, the tone. I should be cleaning my house, but am screwing around on Spark, and reading this made it worthwhile!
    2440 days ago
    Love the costume, haha.
    2446 days ago
  • CREE123
    That was a most wonderful story. And her costume is awesome.
    2447 days ago
    2451 days ago
    I am *so* proud of you for taking on a CH elderly "baby". So few people realise that animals suffer from broken hearts every bit as much as we humans do; and the number of beautiful, innocent animals being euthanised every year breaks my heart.

    Thank you for giving this darling little girl a home to set her spirit free and make her heart whole.

    If I didn't already admire you, I certainly would after reading this article. :)
    2451 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5465300
    1. That is just about the best pet costume I have ever freakin' seen! LOVE IT!!!

    2. Thank you for not only adopting rather than shopping, but for giving a special needs cat a second chance in a loving home! I am so happy that she has you to ensure her golden years are the best she'll ever have!
    2451 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14476702
    Now that's the way to add humor to a touching relationship..... Also your cat is loved n she will be around to enjoy you for quite some time..... As you will her..... great blog n full of love......
    2451 days ago
    2451 days ago
    This is tremendous!! What a gift you are to her. And clearly, she to you. emoticon

    I will watch the youtube video of these cats.

    I have a soft spot for kitties. Always have.

    2451 days ago
    Awwwww . . . what a wonderful connection you and Hail Mary have! What a wonderful story and I LOVE your style telling her story.

    Poor gal didn't have it easy, but you were blessed to help her along the way. And she was blessed to have you help her!

    LOVE the costume. She looks royal!
    2452 days ago
    Well you had me HOWLING w/ the opening sentence ............ "Not about the Lord or any of his relatives." ............... I LOVE Hail Mary ......... and I do feel she too is full of grace. Maybe a bit blessed among felines ........... feminine felines. Very touching story but better I hail YOU for your writing style; so funny I laughed much of the way thru .......... 'cept the tender parts . ................ have to sign up to read all your blogs! ............. (P.S. Hail Mary was quite composed if not reverent and one would never suspect she was not having anything short of a grand time. emoticon for all the chuckles!!
    2452 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5940981
    What an entertaining blog post. I'm glad you stopped by my Spark Page today so I could learn more about you and your miracle kitty.

    All the best is wished for you. emoticon
    2452 days ago
    What a wonderful blog! Hail Mary is so lucky you found each other! This is a GREAT picture!
    2452 days ago
    The costume is adorable, I love it and Hail Mary has stolen a piece of my heart. Her story is sad but also one of overcoming obstacles with the support of her family, You.

    I am really inspired by you adopting an elderly cat with medical issues. Not many people would do something like that. I'm so happy that you two have bonded and that she is slowly making gradual improvement. Be sure to post pictures of the pet event.

    The disclaimers.... truthful but extremely funny. I do not dress my dog either, but I do dye her spike different colors on a regular basis, today it is hot pink.
    2452 days ago
    Best blog I have read all day. Love the story, love the name Hail Mary. I am so happy you found each other. :) Get her a pat from me.
    2452 days ago
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