02 June 2008


Mimi is my cat, and she's been wounded! Not badly, though, don't worry.

We live right on a canyon; you literally open the back gate and there you are, on the edge of the canyon. This is great for hiking, but it makes life outdoors dangerous for Mimi. And she's definitely an outdoor cat. A former housemate once said about her, "This cat loves the outside more than any cat I ever met." I tried to keep her indoors when we moved into this house, because of the dangers of the canyon. We hear coyotes out there. We've seen bear prints in our yard. And while deer aren't usually dangerous, seeing deer in our yard frequently reminds us that there are less friendly animals in the canyon: raccoons, skunks, off-leash dogs.

But when we kept her inside, she became almost comically obese, and she seemed depressed. I don't know if cats get depressed, but she spent all her time lying on the couch, to the extent that her favorite spot became dented. She really did nothing but eat, sleep, and sometimes climb into people's laps.

So we decided to see if we could train her to come in before dark. That was actually pretty easy. We stopped feeding her at any time of day but right before dark, and since she was so overweight, she didn't leave the yard. After a while, she was in much better shape, and we noticed that she did get into neighboring yards, did show up in our front yard sometimes, and did meet us on the canyon trail right outside our gate when we were returning from hikes. But she still came in many times a day to eat (we keep water indoors and on the porch) and check out what was happening in her indoors territory. And we don't let her out again once it's close to dark. She did have one terrible encounter with a skunk this winter when a controlled burn in the canyon drove hibernating (I think?) skunks up into residential areas. But otherwise, being an outdoor kitty has been an obvious improvement in her life.

But this morning, my son got up and asked frantically for the cat. I told him that she was already outside. He asked if I had actually seen her this morning. I thought about it and said no. He told me, in a very distraught tone, that she never came in last night. So we called her for a while, and he got dressed to walk the path behind our block that runs along the canyon and see if he could hear her meowing, since she once got closed inside the neighbor's shed.

Before he could even leave to do that, we heard her meowing from the back porch. We let her in and she was really dusty. She gets dusty all the time, because she likes to roll around in dirt, but she usually cleans herself off before coming in. My son followed her around, hovering like a frantic, over-protective parent, because he saw dried poop hanging from her butt. This worried him, because she's a very tidy kitty, not one to actually leave poop on herself.

And then he noticed her face. She has a large gouge under one eye and a smaller bloody patch next to her nose. I cleaned it with rubbing alcohol (she barely reacted, which was surprising) and she seems ok.

My son, though, is a mess of worry. He followed her around for about an hour, fretting. At one point he even declared that she should go to the vet because she must be constipated, since she didn't even use her litter box when he scooped it. They have this ongoing conflict: she poops the second he finishes scooping the litterbox most days, which he swears she does on purpose. I told him that she wasn't pooping because she hasn't eaten since yesterday afternoon. I had to convince him that it wasn't a sign of internal injury that she didn't purr when he petted her. I'm sure she's not purring because he wouldn't leave her be, but I kept that opinion to myself.

I wonder what it's going to be like when he has kids, if he wants to take the cat to the vet just on the suspicion that she's constipated. He'll be calling me in hysterics every time his baby burps! Let's just hope he has a very sensible wife, preferably one with many younger siblings she spent her teenage years taking care of.

He finally calmed down and went over to a friend's house, but only after I promised four times that I would follow his instructions to the letter:

1. Do NOT let her outside at all today! She might get DIRT in her wounds.

2. Do NOT let my husband let her slip outside if he happens to use the backdoor today. My husband works at home in the afternoons, so he's here now and knows to be careful with the back door, though he rolled his eyes.

3. Watch her VERY carefully, and call him IMMEDIATELY if she seems to have any other problems. I should especially, for some reason, watch for rabies, even though of course she's had rabies shots.

Right now, she's gazing at something invisible in the air above the arm of the couch, apparently none the worse for her encounter. My son planned to take the canyon path to his friend's house, and he fully expected to see defeated coyotes strewn everywhere as though the canyon is one of his video game battlefields and Mimi is his favorite ancient Chinese warrior.


mary said...

i hope she's okay! that's so sweet about your son.

Heather Johnson said...

It so really sweet that your son is so worried about the cat ... it's also probably really funny for you (LOL) but it's sweet to read about it. :)

Oh, you mentioned how it might be when he grows up ... my husband is like that! I once jammed my toe (badly enough to break the nail and cause bleeding) and he rushed me to the hospital thinking I could possibly have broken my toe! It's pretty funny usually, but the overreacting does get old pretty quick ...

MyUtopia said...

Poor kitty!

monnibo said...

That is TOO CUTE about your son's concern with Mimi. Sounds like something I'd do with Henry, although I'm old enough to take him to the vet myself if something should happen. Also, my bf was training to be a vet nurse, so I usually consult him for his opinion in cases like that.