WHEN A CAT ATTACKS!
Before I had my daughter, Willard was my baby. I found him on while covering a story on Willard Street in Hartford about six years ago, hence, his name. He was little, maybe just a few weeks old at best. He was crying near a dumpster in an underground parking lot. His eyes were dirty. He was dirty and scared. I could hear him meowing from a few hundred yards away. When I found him, I scooped him up in my hands, which he barely filled, and took him home.
He was so little, I was afraid he would get lost in my Hartford apartment so I locked him in my bathroom. I gave him some milk in a bottle made especially for kittens because he was too little to drink from a dish. I loved him then at first sight and still love him now. It’s funny. I’ve had my heart broken before but this is the first time my heart aches over a cat. It’s still hard for me to understand how a cat I bottle fed as a kitten could attack me years later. My injuries, as you can see, were so severe, I spent a night in the E.R. As a kitten, I did everything for Willard to keep him alive. A few weeks after I took Willard home, he came down with phenomena, something common with kittens who are bottle feed. I didn’t realize it at the time, but apparently these little guys can get milk into their little lungs if the nipple hole is too big. It happened to Willard and I sobbed as I took him to the vets because I thought despite my efforts, this little kitten wasn’t going to make it. He went on antibiotics and for a few nights, I had to get up every hour to dunk him in cold water to keep his fever down. I remember setting my alarm every hour and doing just that. A few sleepless nights and several hundred dollars later, Willard survived. After that, we had such a bond. He really thought I was his mother and almost every night, even up until last weekend, he would suck on my shirt sleeve and knead me with his paws. When Sadie was an infant, it was hard to tell the baby-spit from the cat drool on my shirt. My sister would be horrified if she knew I was telling people this right now but I am because it shows that Willard REALLY thought I was his mother. That’s why I was so shocked to see how quickly he could, and would turn on me several years after I scooped him up off of that city street when he was too little to barely walk. It all happened last Friday night. Willard has pretty much been an indoor cat but during the past few years, he has managed to sneak out of the house a few times. I noticed when he was outside that he seemed to change and turn into a “wild” cat as I called him. He would hiss at me when I would try to bring him inside and a few times, I put on leather gloves so he couldn’t scratch me. As soon as I got him inside, he was the same old Willard. So, I TRIED keeping him inside until last week when ran out through an open door as my parents were leaving my house. For hours, I called him and looked for him but couldn’t find him. Finally, around mid-night, I saw him in my front yard near a busy street. I ran outside and called his name and when I reached for him, he lunged at me and bit my hand it two places. I grabbed him on the back of his neck, like mother cats do to their kittens, and he managed to scratch the my harm with his back legs making it look more like raw meat. I couldn’t stop the bleeding, so, I called my sister and off we went to the E.R. The doctor there cleaned my wounds and gave me a tetanus shot.
Willard is now being quarantined for rabies at the Veterinarians office because he was not up to date on his shots.( NOTE to pet owners: rabies vaccinations for cats used to last for three years but recently were changed to last a year. ) I didn’t realize that at the time and thought Willard was up to date at the time of the attack. I guess they changed the dosage because it’s believed that the higher dose of the vaccine may put the cat at risk for getting cancer. I took Willard to one of those pet-store vaccination clinics right before Sadie was born. I just assumed it was good for three years. I had a lot on my plate that time and never asked. If someone told me, I honestly, don’t remember. My veterinarian, Dr. Tanya Sloan Battison is helping me get through this with no judgment what-so-ever. She says there has been a lot of confusion about the rabies vaccination and that I am, by no means, the first. Plus, with the economy many people are skipping their regular vet visits because money is tight. We all know how a trip to the Vets isn’t cheap.
Willard will be watched for two weeks. If he dies during that period, it most likely means he has rabies and that I will have to undergo a series of painful rabies shots. Dr. Battison believes that Willard is probably all right but tells me that this is nothing to fool around with because, as she says, “it can mean the difference between life and death.” I hear her warning and am following her advice. I hope other pet owners will also follow my lead. Rabies can kill. I remember covering a story once about a man who died from contracting rabies from a bat in his house. As for Willard, my plan is to keep him at the Vets during this quarantine period and if all goes well, I will figure out my next move then.