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!