Clinic Stories

Ashes

I don't remember the cat's original name. I'll call her Puddin for now. Miss G, 18 years old, was caught in an apartment fire. Puddin did what many cats do in a fire – she hid in a closet. Puddin survived but was badly burned. Initially Miss G left a deposit and visited daily. Puddin required a feeding tube, fluids and intensive care and after a week or so, Miss G stopped visiting and did not return calls. At this point Puddin was stable but not close to being sent home. Despite being abandoned, we decided to continue her care.

Each day her wounds were cleaned, feeding continued through a stomach tube and despite losing several toes, her burns slowly healed. At exactly 30 days, Puddin ate for the first time – she chewed off what was left of her tail. She then turned and ate her food and never missed a meal thereafter. Her feeding tube was pulled and she was ready to leave the hospital on out patient care.

Finding a home did not figure to be easy. Her feet were still healing and she could not walk well. She required long term antibiotics and daily wound treatment. While we searched for a home for Puddin a client came in with a cat that was diagnosed with diabetes. When I explained that her cat would require daily insulin injections the owner remarked “I can do that. I took care of my husband when he was burned over 70% of his body.” I mentioned Puddin. She had to discuss it with her husband, who did not really like cats.

When she related the situation to her husband he did not hesitate - “We'll take that cat!” He was welding when a gas line was turned on. He was critically burned in the explosion, placed in a drug induced coma for over a month and required many months of hospital and at home care. His sympathy for a burn victim overrode his dislike for cats.

They discussed cat names. He favored Toast, she preferred Ashes, but they settled on a blander reference to her past – Smokey. Smokey had problems in the first six months particularly with her feet but gradually healed well enough to lead a normal life. Late in life she developed some non-healing wounds that needed ongoing treatment, but she survived past 18 years old, eleven years after the fire. The original owner never knew of her success.

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