Posted 2020-09-15 11:25 PM (#238398) Subject: SuperKitty: The Story of Crackers
Location: Boulder Creek CA
SuperKitty: The Story of Crackers
This particular kitten came from the precious line of Pebblesk offspring. He was solid grey, like a lot of her babies and didn’t stand out much in the beginning. Behind his male kitten ‘Me, me me’ attitude there was also something sweet about him. Seeing as he was crazy about milk I felt seriously tempted to call him ‘Cadbury’ because he was a ‘dairy nut’. In the end, being the chocolate snob that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to name this cute boy after what I considered inferior quality chocolate, so he stayed ‘kitty boy’ for quite a while.
We had been having a fine summer and one night I took the opportunity to have a bonfire in the garden with our guests. The party went on for quite a while, it was almost midnight when I finally got to bed. I was dog tired but took a plastic tub with the remaining crackers up to my room. After a good night’s sleep the sun woke me up in the morning along with a funny sound that I couldn’t place. Something was making a crunching noise, ‘k-ch, k-ch, k-ch...’ I sat up and looked around me. By the side of my bed on the floor was the tub of crackers I hadn’t finished before falling asleep. Inside it was a grey kitty, munching away like a champion! ‘That’s it,’ I thought. ‘You’re Crackers!’
He didn’t stop at this odd kind of behavior either. Watching Chouchou sidle up to lick the butter off my toast at breakfast time didn’t impress him all that much, but it sure gave him ideas. ‘Look, mom, I can eat the bread as well!’
Very soon I felt it was time to expand his name because the old one just wasn’t saying it properly. This kitty ate ham, toast, olives and even pine nuts! He was pretty classy about his food... perhaps a touch Italian? And when he showed up again after being missing for over a day he ate broccoli soup offered by caring hostel guest, Lara from Australia, who thankfully enough was eating her lunch out in the sun when he finally made it back home.
In the end his full ‘official’ name with more than a cheeky nod to breeders was ‘Crackers Antipasto Caruso, The Ham-ster’. Caruso was well-deserved because I had never had the pleasure of being serenaded by any of the others cats the way he would go on when he saw me get the packet of ham from the fridge.
Crackers had another, bigger adventure though, beyond his fancy name and culinary preferences. I came out of the kitchen door one morning to find him sitting there all quiet, very unusual for him. Watching him with surprise at this behavior I saw blood on his mouth and realized an emergency vet visit was necessary. The diagnosis didn’t sound good, a broken leg and injured jaw from having been hit by a car. The vet didn’t give me much hope about being able to save the leg.
They promised me to do what they could to avoid an amputation but when the call came through I was told it had not been possible. A few days later I was allowed to pick him up, which I did with a heavy heart. Back at the house I took the carrier with Crackers inside and stood it on the floor in the kitchen. Then I opened the door for him to get out. Slowly he understood that he was free to leave his cage.
His movements were quite tentative but got a little more determined with every step. His first destination was the fridge. There’s got to be ham inside..?
Poor Crackers looked like Hannibal Lecter! I had not realized how much his jaw had been smashed up in the accident. With his jaw full of wires he wasn’t able to eat the ham. My heart was bleeding for him. Now what...
But Crackers would not have been Crackers if he had let this bring him down. Next stop, the garden! The vet had told me in no uncertain terms ‘don’t let him out for at least two days’ but he didn’t know Crackers the way I did. He couldn’t eat, what else could I offer him...?
Step by tiny baby step we walked all the way down the length of the house to the back of the extensive garden with him leading the way. It was like a mindfulness meditation for the sake of my kitty boy who was now learning how to walk again with his front leg missing. He was a marvel to watch. His patience, his determination and his delight about being out of the steel cage, finally back among his trees and flowers again were as palpable as if I was experiencing it myself. We kept going, past the living room windows, the fragrant hedge underneath them and he didn’t stop at the edge of the fruit trees either. All the way to the back he went, where the garden became wild and turned into woodlands full of fairy scent. There by the big pine trees among the mosses he stopped... and took a big dump!
Oh Crackers, you crack me up! I can so see and feel how wonderful this must have been after spending a week cramped up in a cage surrounded by lifeless steel walls. He looked at me as if he was saying, ‘thank you for understanding this important need, to be out again among my trees, in nature, where I belong. Though I have to say I would have preferred a little privacy for this particular activity...’
He was ready to go back in again after that and together we began the new and unexpected phase of feeding him, that made my kitchen floor look like a Japanese restaurant. It didn’t take me long to find out that he couldn’t chew, which meant that I had to find more creative ways to keep him in food.
A worried internet search provided some relief because apparently a fair number of cat parents have this issue: ‘My cat doesn’t chew!’ I started to experiment with different combinations of food, some with cooked chicken, some with cat milk, some with a little cream, some fish, all blended to ensure minimum necessity for moving his jaw. The first few meals took a long long time, because in the beginning he could hardly open his mouth and gradually I understood that his tongue was lacerated and the wires in his jaw were hurting him, so everything, even water, had to be given gently and with great care.
We started really slowly. After a few false starts he took to licking the purée from my finger, filling me with a wave of joy, and I couldn’t stop welling up a little for the hope this gave me. I finally got why the vet had not been awfully troubled by the amputation - they were much more worried about his jaw. Would he be able to eat and keep himself alive through his recovery...
It was a busy time at the hostel, though thankfully not full summer season yet and I had made a point of visiting Crackers at the vets’ as often as possible while he was there. I gave him reiki, and much to the credit of the vet they let me bring my color lights to apply on him as well. Perhaps his wonderful spirit was supported enough to keep his faith and his optimism with the treatments.
I had to go about my daily business again but kept checking in on him to make sure he had everything he needed. The hostel was a big house and there were times in the beginning when he frightened me, like when he, true to his cat nature, followed his instinct and crept underneath a unit in my office. It must have taken an hour or more of intense searching to finally discover his hideaway, but I could see his need for a safe, confined nook, even though we had no predators in the house.
I gave him the opportunity to heal outside as much as he needed to. Being among the grass and the trees seemed an overriding desire and I trusted his choice and his instinct. I had to keep the times relatively short because I could only take half an hour here and there and I didn’t want to exhaust him too much. One day though he was just simply gone and no matter how much I searched and called he never showed up until just before midnight. It was bad for my nerves, I can tell you! And he never even told me where he’d been, that little rascal...
When his jaw had healed enough that we could go to the vet and have his wires removed I don’t know who was more relieved, him or me. But his enjoyment of eating ‘normalk again was a delight to watch. Finally he had his chicken back and his ham. The world was back in order, nom nom...
But again, Crackers being Crackers, he had already set his next goal: climb his favorite trees. Once he mastered that nothing stopped him any more and eventually he even got back into hunting again.
Hats off to Crackers Antipasto Caruso, The Ham-ster - SuperKitty!