Sunday, July 29, 2012


We acquired Tigger in Turkey - literally right off the street - when he was about six weeks old.  He adapted to our apartment living relatively quickly, but from the beginning he was a "different" cat.  He scared easily and his reaction to being scared was to yeowl with a huge voice (which happened every time we put him in the cat carrier to go to the vet) and to bite or scratch if he could.  As long as he was small and in his own safe place (our apartment) it presented no problem.  Upon our return to the U.S. the vet came to our house to provide his medical care (because she was my cousin).  The teeth, we just tried to avoid. 

When Tigger was about two years old we rented a flat in Amsterdam for a couple of months in preparation for returning to the US.  We wanted to use it as a base for seeing a little more of Europe and also to get a little better acclimated to being in the West again.  The flat was quite large and nice, and we had a great time there.  Tigger did not. 

The first thing I noticed was that one of the inside ties on my chenille bathrobe disappeared.  Gone.  Nothing left but a tiny fringe of cloth in the seam.  It was very strange.  I could hardly accuse Jerry of removing my bathrobe tie, so it had to be Tigger.  I searched high and low for the tie but never found it.  With the week, the remaining tie disappeared too.

A few weeks later I saw what appeared to be a very large white flat worm in Tigger's "poop."  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I had never seen a tapeworm before but I thought perhaps that was what it was.  Using a couple of wooden toothpicks, I began investigating the "thing" to try to get a better idea of what my cat might have had in his intestines.  I isolated about three inches of the flat white "thing" before discovering the end - which then indicated that this was a shoelace from my new Reeboks.  I went to the closet to investigate - and sure enough, one shoelace had been chewed off and swallowed, which of course I thought was much better - but more peculiar - than finding a real tapeworm!  Jerry and I put all our shoes with laces on a shelf at that point.  What else could Tigger find to eat!

Our time in Amsterdam fell right in the middle of winter, and there were some days where we just found it too cold to go outside to explore.  On those days I either read or did cross-stitch.  I was working on a Christmas panel which was done completely in red thread on a white background.  One cold morning I was stitching away and decided it was time for a cup of coffee.  I stuck the threaded needle in the Aida cloth, set the project on the floor beside my chair and left for the kitchen to make the coffee.  Upon my return, I picked up the material -- and the needle, with about 15" of red embroidery thread in it, was gone.  Figuring I may have not hooked it securely, I searched around the floor, then the chair, and found it nowhere in sight.  Jerry asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was puzzled, because I couldn't find my needle and thread anywhere. 

He then told me that he had seen Tigger walk by with a little red "something" hanging from his mouth.

Of course he had not gotten up to investigate what it might have been.  This is, I'm sorry to say, a fairly typical man-thing at our house.  I was horrified.  The cat had eaten a needle.  I put in an emergency phone call from Amsterdam to my cousin in Southern California and asked her what I should do?  She said to watch his poop carefully to see if it passed through, and if not, then get the cat to a local vet for surgery.

We were due to leave Amsterdam for the US in a week, and there was no way if that needle got stuck that we were going to be able to go through a cat surgery; he would have to be put down.  With fingers crossed and toothpicks at the ready, I began my frantic wait for each poop.  I fed the cat a great deal of food, trusting that this would facilitate the movement of the needle safely through the twisty intestines.  Day one passed with no needle.  Day two passed with no needle. Day three dawned and I saw very definite red thread in Tigger's stool.  Toothpicks flying, I tore apart the poop and there was the needle, with the 15 inches of embroidery thread still threaded through the eye.  Tigs was safe! 

Tigger's life ended in 2009 of old age.  He had never again eaten any foreign object.  There was something about those two months in Amsterdam that caused him to react in such a manner.  I'm not a cat psychologist, but I'd guess it was just stress.  He arrived in America with eight lives left - and he had those same eight stored up "just in case" when he died.    He was still a somewhat fearful cat, and any trip to the vet necessitated two pre-visit tranquilizers.  Yes, he mellowed some in his old age, but we always made allowances for him.  We always reminded him that he was a very lucky cat to have been chosen by us.  And we consider ourselves lucky that we had him for so long. 

1 comment:

Olga said...

Sigh. We used to tell our cat the same thing--you are lucky you chose us. Still miss him.