Pet Talk: Cat's handicap is also a blessing
I couldn’t think of what to write for this New Year’s column. No big resolutions this year — there is so much going on in the world today I figure we have enough struggles in life right now. But I wanted to talk about something someone else has done that I could not. I started to re-read the letters I’ve received from my readers during the last few months. My eyes kept coming back to Tiny Tim, and I thought being the Christmas season, it was the perfect name choice.
This wonderful lady was surfing Petfinder and accidentally ran across a video of a little black older kitten at a Rhode Island shelter. The description told her Tiny Tim was special needs, but he was very friendly and could use the litter box. As she watched the video, she saw this brave young tyke, staggering while walking on a slippery floor. His front legs worked well, but his hind legs were weak and he kept falling over. Right then and there she lost her heart to this kitten, knowing there was a slim chance this adorable fellow would be adopted. Even though this small-town shelter tries to keep kitties as long as possible, Tiny Tim’s future was looking a bit bleak.
And so an e-mail to the shelter, as well as an assurance he liked other cats and could use the litter box, got Tiny Tim a new home. It was thought he had cerebella hyperplasia, but a visit to the vet determined the hump on his spine between his front legs was compressing the spinal cord, causing partial paralysis in his hind quarters.
Blood tests showed a significant exposure to toxoplasmosis, but a month of transdermal meds and quarantine from the other cats, and he was good to go.
Nothing slows this kitten down and he has no fear. He lives in a two-story house with open stairs and railings on the landing. He can run, though he falls and twirls around not able to control his direction, so his owner had a handyman come and nail up lattice to use as a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. That worked ... for a while.
Hiding in a tunnel
One morning, Tiny Tim was nowhere to be found. He always comes to the kitchen to get his canned food treat, but not that day. His owner called and called, looked under the sofas, in the closets, just everywhere ... no Tiny Tim. He was found upstairs hiding in a cat tunnel taking a nice nap. He slept most of the day as he was so exhausted after his climb upstairs. How did this little special needs kitty figure out how to climb up lattice and get upstairs?
Tiny Tim thinks. He plots and plans all day to do this. In one day, he made it to the top of a 6-foot hutch and on the same day he climbed a comforter draped over a gate, so he could get to the railings and wobbling along them the way the other cats do.
Owning Tiny Tim is a blessing and a curse all rolled into one. He is loving, and happy and very confident he can do anything he wants to. In fact, he does not know he has physical handicaps because he was born this way and for him, it is just the way life is. He takes each day as it comes and every new step he takes, every new thing he climbs, is a wonderful accomplishment.
When I said I wanted to write about someone who could do something I can’t, I meant that. My house and my cats are not equipped to deal with any cat who has a severe disability. Some of my cats would terrorize a cat who had a weakness and I travel too much to be able to watch out for a cat such as Tiny Tim. So I applaud everyone who is able to offer a home to a special needs cat and if any of you are home a good deal of the time and have only one or two cats, perhaps you also could offer a home to a special cat such as Tiny Tim. This holiday season Tiny Tim had a lot to be thankful for and his new year is full of promise.
Rene Knapp writes Pet Talk, which appears Sundays. Reach her at email@example.com.