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We had a little health scare with our kitty last week, and it showed me just how quickly we grow to love the non-human members of our family – and how quickly they become members of the family.
We adopted Sabrina at the end of March from the Berks Animal Rescue League, after several visits there with Brannon. As a matter of fact, we first met Sabrina at the ARL last December – during their holiday open house. She had come in to the shelter as a stray in November.
We visited with her (and the other kitties) several times – but it was always Sabrina that Brannon wanted to go see and had his heart set on bringing home. Once I was sure he didn’t have an allergy and that Scot’s allergy would stay away – we brought her home.
The months since we adopted Sabrina have been an adjustment for all of us – most especially for her. We have no idea what her life was like before she became a stray or how long she was on the streets. We DO know she was in the shelter for about five months before we brought her home.
While she seemed to settle in quickly and get comfortable, it has taken all this time for her. And there are still things about our house that may spook her or make her nervous.
She has a thing for being on paper … newspaper, school homework, letters, envelopes … you name it. If it’s paper, she wants to be on it. So if we’re working at the table, she hops up and lies down right on top of whatever it is we’re working on or reading. Oh, and she makes sure that on top of HER, is one of our hands.
She stretches out on the floor in the kitchen and rolls onto her back – exposing her belly. It has taken us all this time to get wise to the fact that the movement is NOT an invitation to rub her belly. Some of us have learned that lesson the hard way … repeatedly.
She does not like to be picked up. Period. I believe she needs to be picked up on occasion, because there are times when a cat needs to be picked up. So I want her to tolerate it – even if she doesn’t love it, or even like it. The second I do it – she puts me on alert.
An “ah-ha” moment for me came when I was in the pet store a couple of months after we got her, and was explaining to the manager – a cat man – about the behavior when we pick her up. He said: “for all you know, the last person to pick her up – threw her out of a window.” I had never thought of that, and it made me sad. I still pick her up – but with lots of reassurances. She tolerates it, and sometimes she almost relaxes.
While Sabrina has always talked to us, and comes and snuggles when we’re standing up or sitting at the table, she is not a lap cat. She would never come in to the living room with us when we were hanging out as a family. She would sit in the dining room. And at bedtime, she would come upstairs, sleeping either in the hallway where she could see everyone’s bedroom doors, or on the farthest corner of my bed.
But in the last six weeks or so – that has changed. Sabrina now will come into the living room with us – sometimes sitting on the couch with one of us. Sometimes she will deign to walk across one of our laps to get where she wants to go. And now, she is my sleeping companion. She sneaks in when she thinks I’m already asleep and stretches out in the bed, up near my pillow.
I take this as a sign that maybe she is truly settling in and just might believe she has found a forever home.
Sabrina has a schedule that matches our own. She follows the boys to the front door to say goodbye when they leave in the morning, giving them a special “meow.” And she’s there at the front door when they get home. When I pull into the garage, she’s there waiting for me when I open the garage door into the family room (or maybe she’s just trying to escape).
She has some kind of fascination with the headphone wires. I never see her chewing on any wires or cables in the house. But leave a set of headphones on the desk, and she has them in her mouth and is acting like she had just caught the biggest mouse.
None of us can imagine our house without Sabrina – or “Sabibi,” as I like to call her. She has worked her way into our hearts.
So when she got sick last week, it had us all a little worried. I thought she had caught a little cold. Then one day I noticed her limping badly. I took a look at the foot and saw her paw pad was badly swollen and discolored. “It’s the vet for you tomorrow, little girl,” I told her.
I honestly thought the vet would tell me that she had gotten bitten by a spider or something – and maybe needed some antibiotics. That’s not how it went. Not only did she have a problem with her paw, but she had an infection in her mouth, as well.
As the doctor started to talk about the things that could cause both of the ailments, I got more and more worried: feline aids, feline Lupus, or some other autoimmune disorder. The initial step was to take a full blood panel, to see what might be brewing. We also walked out of there with a prescription for antibiotics. Once the blood work came in – the more serious things seemed to be off the table – but she does have an autoimmune disorder that has caused both of the problems.
The immediate treatment is about two months of steroids to get it into remission. Then we’ll watch her for the rest of her life.
I have been watching her like a hawk. But she seems to be responding to the medicines. I am amazed, given the pain that she has been in, especially with her mouth, that she remained the same lovely girl she always was.
I knew we loved Sabrina, but my heart has opened even wider for this sweet, little Torti-creature who trusts us to take care of her.
We are all giving her extra snuggles and extra love. And her purrs are our reward.