While looking for a file (see latest entry in "Undert the Toronto Sun" blog for more details) I came across another file.I have no idea who sent this story to me (must have been a while ago), but if you recognize this as your story I will edit this entry and mention your name.
One evening, I was working after hours receptionist duty, at a university veterinary teaching hospital. An owner came to pick up her ten-month-old Maine Coon cat. I did not know anything about the breed, and I could not understand the reason she was so proud of him. OK, he was a Premier Grand Champion show cat. He was nice looking, but he seemed to be just a cat. Then he looked out of his carrier, and I fell into the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen.
Several years later, I was in the check out line at a local garden store. I mentioned I had recently adopted a parakeet. The clerk asked if I wanted to adopt a cat, too. I checked with my roommates, and since we already had two cats and a dog, the response was, “Sure! What’s one more?” So I arranged to meet the clerk, and the cat, the next day.
I arrived at the garden store, the clerk opened the carrier, and out strolled a big, long-haired cat, with a very long, fluffy tail. He looked around, and was very nonchalant, while rubbing and purring. I stroked his head, but that was all. I had been around many cats in my life, but not one that big, and I found him intimidating.
We put him in my carrier, and I headed over to the veterinary teaching hospital to have him checked out. Again, he strolled out of the carrier, looked around and started purring. People began picking him up, and he loved it. It was while I was there, I recognized the same big, beautiful green eyes I had fallen in love with, several years before!
He was the same cat! His former owner, for whatever reason I never did learn, had given him to the garden store clerk. He had some type of problem at her house, and she had been keeping him in a barn. He was thin, had some mats, ear mites and smelled like a barn.
We went home and I put him in my bedroom. He was not in the least bit shy, and soon put me at ease. I was not working the next three days, so I closed the bedroom door and we were able to spend the time alone, getting to know each other and bonding. He decided his place was on my pillow. This big sweetheart, with the loud purr and gentle ways, seemed to be happy with his new living situation. He groomed himself, with my help, until we had the mats and barn smell eliminated.
I had medicine to treat his ear mites. It was in a small squeeze bottle and easy to use. He, however, did not like it. One morning, he was sleeping beside me on the pillow, and I thought if I could sneak the medicine into his ear while he was asleep, it would be much easier. I had the bottle poised, squeezed it once and realized I needed to give it another squeeze to get the right dosage. I made the mistake of relaxing my thumb and finger, and the bottle made a loud, moist, sucking sound, right in his ear! He jumped straight in the air, came down and looked at me as if I had shot him. Much to my dismay, he never slept on my pillow again.
Now, Trissy was a big, tall, aristocratic looking cat. The name he came with, Johnny, did not seem to fit him at all. I found my book of names and began searching for something I deemed more suitable. I came across Tristan. It seemed to fit. My book said it meant young prince, plus I had always liked Tristan in the James Herriot books. However, he soon became known as Trissy.
I was curious about the Maine Coon breed and wanted to learn more. I looked up Maine Coon cat breeders at work, took the list home, and began calling. The first breeder I spoke with, became very interested when I told her where I lived and that the cat was called Johnny, when I first brought him home. She asked for his description, then told me she wanted to make a phone call and get back to me.
About a half hour later, she called. She was the breeder of this cat! She had sold him to a show home, as a kitten, and he was not to have been sold or given away. If his new owner could not keep him, he was to have gone back to her, the breeder. She was not happy. My first thought was, do I have to give him up? But, no, thank goodness, I could keep him.
Due to this phone call, I was the recipient of his registration papers and the name of the veterinarian with his medical records. I was able to look up the record of his exam at the veterinary school, and learned of his family history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. His grandfather had died of this disease, at age eleven.
Luckily, I had an “in” to get an appointment with the cardiologist, without waiting the normal several months. She checked him out with blood work, radio-graphs, ECG, and cardiac ultrasound. He had only mild thickening of the wall of his left ventricle. She suggested I have him checked every six months, until we knew if this was progressing.
Trissy loved going to work with me, for his check ups. He would ride in the passenger side seat of the pick-up truck like a little dog, his head poked up through the top flap of his soft sided carrier. When we arrived, he could hardly wait to get out and start socializing. I made him wear a little collar, with a small snap and a long pale blue ribbon, so I could catch and retrieve him, if he became frightened.
He, however, seemed to be afraid of nothing. He would lounge on the desk, standing up to greet clients, as they arrived. At times he would curled up on one of the desk chairs, and sleep peacefully. If I happened to be across the room, Trissy would sometimes look over at me with a great big old kitty grin on his face, as if to say, “Look how everyone is petting me!” And everyone did pay attention to and love him, including the clients. The hospital administrator made the joking comment one day, it was fine that Trissy worked with me, as long as he did not have to pay him, too.
One evening at home, I noticed Trissy having difficulty urinating. He would try to go often, but would be unsuccessful. I called the intensive care unit at the veterinary teaching hospital, and spoke with one of the emergency students. We were soon on our way, to have him examined by the resident on call. She diagnosed a urinary blockage, and admitted him to ICU. He needed a urinary catheter.
Since the resident was a friend of mine, I was allowed to stay and be with them during his catheterization. I had not previously realized how difficult it was to place a urinary catheter in a male, or neutered male cat. They struggled for the longest time, getting the catheter started, but then running into the crystals causing the urinary blockage. Thank goodness, Trissy was under sedation and completely out. But being his mom, I was concerned. . . no. . . I was just plain scared, for my boy.
The resident, even though she was now an ophthalmology resident, had previously worked in an emergency clinic. It was spring, so the student was nearly ready to graduate and begin working. Trissy was in good hands, I had no doubt of that. However, I felt such a sense of relief when the catheter was finally in place, and he was placed in a cage to rest, I nearly cried.
I was able to have long visits, during Trissy’s five day stay in ICU. I was allowed to sit by his cage, with the door open. There, I would rest an arm beside him, and he would lean his head on me, while draping one of his legs over my hand. At other times, he would be on one of the exam tables, so I could cradle him in my arms, and we could touch heads. We would spend several hours a night, being close, comforting each other and cuddling.
The ICU students said he was very quiet, until I came through the door. Then they would hear him start talking. Once they told me they were concerned, because at times he would lie in his cage with his lips slightly parted, as if he might be mouth breathing. I reassured them it was a normal behavior for him, and he was smiling at them, as he often smiled at me.
While in ICU, being rather spoiled, Trissy would only eat if he could lick the soft food from my finger. I also, had to dip my finger in his water, so he could lick the drops. I suppose it was the mom taste, or perhaps the closeness. Even after I brought his sport water bottle from home, he would only drink if I was present. I would hold the bottle and he would lick drops.
At home, if he drank from a bowl, he had to dig beside it, before drinking. Then he would lean way across, no matter what size the bowl. I am sure the water on the far side, was much better. At other times, he would drink by licking water drops from one of his big furry front paws. Many times, I found him with his “hand” in my water glass, helping himself to a drink.
Several months after he came home, I became ill. We had a very small bathroom, and the corner of the sink was so close to the stool, I had to almost turn sideways to get through. One evening, while I was on the stool, vomiting, I felt this big furry paw on my forehead. Trissy was on the corner of the sink with a very concerned look on his face. He was reaching over, touching my forehead, as if he were trying to hold my hair out of the way. It was his turn to care for and comfort me.
This gentle, loving boy became, not only my cat and companion, he became my best friend and life partner. He became the light of my life, and I finally understood the reason his owner, when he was a kitten, was so proud of him!