A Close Call

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Today I’m making good on my word. Our 4-year-old cat Percy, who was named for her persistence, is sprawled out across my desk, serving as a hairy paperweight for the file folders and papers I should be working on today.

Now and then she reaches out a clawless paw and takes a swipe at the cursor moving across my computer screen. It’s a technologically advanced game of “cat and mouse.” It’s funny the first few times she does it, but after an hour of the cat blocking my view of the monitor, it gets frustrating. I’ve told her many times that this is not a mouse she’s going to catch, but she doesn’t give up.

But today I’m thankful for her stubbornness. Because two weeks ago, I was almost certain I’d never see her sprawled out on my writing desk again. One morning I came downstairs and noticed Percy wasn’t leading the way to her food dish, as she usually does. I searched the house calling her name and found four large spots of coughed up blood. Percy was close by, crouched and hiding in the corner. Something was very wrong.

It was a Saturday and our vet’s office was closed, which is almost always the case when you have an animal emergency. So I scooped her up and rushed her to an emergency animal hospital 20 minutes away.

The vet said Percy was losing blood at both ends and needed fluids right away. So she stayed hooked up to tubes in the kitty ICU and I went home and worried about the bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I called to check on her several times, and the vet said she was slowly improving and would likely come home Monday morning. But at 10 p.m. Sunday night, they called to say Percy had taken a sudden turn for the worse.

“Should I come there now?” I asked, praying he would say it wasn’t that serious.

“Yes, you should come,” he said.

My worst fears were confirmed when I arrived and the receptionist ushered me into what looked like the “death and dying” room – a private space with a sofa and tissue boxes.

Veterinarian assistants wheeled Percy into the room in a newborn’s hospital incubator, encased in glass with two openings big enough for hands to reach in.

She was lying on her side, struggling to breathe. She had those sickly white “third eyelids” cats sometimes get when they’re sick or drugged. Her long gray hair was matted with blood around her mouth, and her tongue stuck halfway out as she struggled for air.

After the vet assistants left, I cried and stroked her hair and prayed for a different outcome than the one that seemed to be coming quickly. I didn’t want to lose her.

I’d grumbled about her plenty of times when she got underfoot or pushed paperwork off my desk for her own amusement. But she’s family, which means she’s allowed her own annoying quirks just like the rest of us. So I asked Percy to hang on and promised her she could sleep on my desk whenever she wanted and have as much tuna as she could eat.

Somehow – perhaps a combination of answered prayer and Percy’s persistence – she made it through the night. By morning, she was transferred back to our regular vet. By that evening, she was home again – exhausted and weak – but home.

Today she is healthy and sprawled across my desk with the distinctive smell of tuna on her breath. Our persistent stray cat is back, and life is good.

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