I've been wanting to write her story for weeks. I know it needs careful thought to make it the best story, and time to write it properly. I keep waiting for a time that I can sit down and write it all out and that just isn't happening, so I'm going to start.
It was August 8th. It was early in the morning-and I mean the kind of early where most normal people should be asleep. Murphy, our dog, barked that kind of intense bark that says something is wrong. I leapt out of bed to go let him out to protect the farm animals. Normally my husband does this, and I can't remember why it was me this time. Usually, when he barks, there are coyotes off in the distance and he's just trying to show off. This time, I stood at the back door, listening to...silence. Not a single sound could be heard. No distant coyote yips, no strumming emu, no honking geese or quacking ducks. Nothing. No rustling sounds in the grass on the other side of our fence-which is Forest Service land. I called Murphy back in and got back in bed.
Fast forward 5 or 6 hours and Tony, my husband, who was outside doing farm chores pops his head in the door and asks if any of us have seen the cat this morning. None of us had, but that isn't too unusual, she likes to stay outside at night during the summer. He said she might be in trouble then, because he could hear distant meows, but couldn't determine where it was coming from. We all went out to help locate her. The meows were strong, but the volume was faint. I walked the direction I thought I heard the sounds coming from, but she wasn't there. I went back the way I'd come and climbed over the fence to go search for her in the "wild". Again, I was drawn the same direction as I stood to listen for her. I got back to the area I'd been, but on the other side of the fence this time and just stopped. As soon as other noises quieted, I knew. She was up. Only she was way further up than we could do anything about. We have a bunch of mesquite trees behind our fence, which are not very tall. If she'd been in one of those, Tony could have easily rescued her. No, she was at the top of the power pole looking eager to get back to the ground, but with no knowledge of how to move in reverse of what she'd done to get to the top in the first place.
This is where my brain starts putting things together. Whatever Murphy had barked at last night must have scared her up the pole and she'd been there for those 5 or 6 hours. She probably didn't mind much while it was dark out, but as soon as the sun started coming up, it was HOT! She wanted down and she wanted down now! We knew we couldn't do anything on our own, so we called...you guessed it, the fire department. I didn't want to call 911, because technically it wasn't an emergency, so I looked up the number to the administrative office.The conversation went something like this:
Voice on other end: C___ V_____ fire administration office, how can I help you?
Me: Hi, my name is Kelly Cook, and my cat is at the top of the power pole behind our house. Is that something the fire department can help me with?
Voice: Um. Well. I think so, but you should call the dispatch office to ask and they'll send a truck over if they can.
Me: Thanks, so just dial 911 or try another number?
Voice: Here, try this ___ ___ ____
Me: OK, thanks a lot!
When I called the dispatch number, they weren't even sure they could do anything, but about 10 minutes later, a ladder truck arrived. I need to pause from the main story here to tell you that our house is on 3 acres of land, and we have a long driveway. The firemen PARKED ON THE ROAD AND WALKED IN! Where's the bravery in that?? When they said they couldn't get the truck back here I responded, "So we shouldn't even bother calling you guys if the house catches fire??" Their response, "We have long fire hoses." Seriously? That one still gets me a bit riled up.
They got to the back of our property and shrugged their collective shoulders. "There's nothing we can do." "We can't work around live wires." [I get that one, I didn't want anyone risking their life to save my cat, but she is important to our family, as you'll learn from the end of the story.] "I promise you, we've never had an animal skeleton at the top of anything high like that." "When she gets hungry enough, she'll figure out how to get down." I finally said, "So maybe we should call the power company and they can do something?" They agreed that it'd be worth a try.
Yep, that's what we did. Customer service assured us they'd get someone out as soon as they could.
Knowing it'd be a while, we all went back to our tasks. At least Tony and I did. The kids watched from a distance to see what happened. They'd been warned not to hang around where their presence might cause Mim to try to come down on her own. About 20 minutes later, my oldest son ran in to tell me she was down. I thought that was good news and went out to see her. Only it wasn't. Tony, who'd been working about 200 ft away, heard a loud pop, then heard the kids hollering. We met outside on our way to see what had happened. There she was, lying on the ground, about 10 feet away from the pole, panting heavily. That seemed natural, since it was hot outside and she'd been in the direct sun for a few hours now, but it was more than that. The whiskers on the right side of her face were singed and curly. Her claws were out, stuck in that position. Her tongue appeared to have no life and was hanging out, but stiff. Tony quickly hopped the fence and worked to release her claws from some wire that used to be part of the Forest Service fence. At this point, we still hadn't quite realized what happened-we couldn't see the singed whiskers until we brought her in, which we had done to get her cooled off quickly. We thought she fell while trying to get down, but as we examined her, we realized she'd touched the wrong wire combination while up there and had been shocked and thrown down.
I called the mobile vet we use for our farm animals, no answer. I called his office number and learned he was out of state at a veterinary conference. We got into the car to start driving to another vet's office, which I called while Tony drove, to advise them of her condition and request that they be ready to receive her as soon as we got there. Mim stayed on his lap while he drove because her unnaturally extended claws couldn't be removed from his shirt.
We arrived at the same time another family did, who was bringing in their dog with a swollen face with no known cause. Because we had called in, they took us in first. The kids walked back with us, but were quickly sent back to the waiting room because they were getting emotional. The vet tech took her temperature while the vet looked into her eyes and felt for broken bones and internal damage. I don't recall the exact temperature reading, but it was several degrees over what'd be considered high for a cat. They determined that the best way to cool her down would be to move her to the grooming area and run water over her while a fan blew on her as well. I took over the job of holding the hose on her while the vet and tech proceeded to give her an injection and something by IV. They then went to the other 'patient'.
It took about 20 minutes to get her temperature down into a high normal range, at which point her breathing also slowed to nearly normal. The details after that are kind of sketchy in my memory. the urgency was abated, and she didn't have any internal injuries to address. It was suggested they keep her for the day to monitor her and then we could bring her home. What I do remember is the vet who was working on her was subbing for the one that is normally there-because he was at the same conference. They shouldn't be allowed to leave at the same time!
Her prognosis was a guarded 'good'. During the exam we could see that her right ear was bent back, as it would be if she was mad and hissing at some unseen enemy, and her front left leg was contracted and bent in. Her tongue was curled up at the end and she had a horseshoe shaped burn on it. Only time would tell what healing could happen there.
When the vet's office staff called to let us know we could pick her up, we also learned that she'd need steroidal eye drops four times a day to ward off cataracts. She needed to be on a nutritionally dense diet because it'd be hard for her to eat and she needed a lot of good quality calories to heal. Of course, she is the first picky cat I've ever owned, and she only likes her ocean delights dry food we get from Trader Joe's. Even when she smells the fresh cow or goat milk after we've milked the animals, she'll meow as though she's really interested in getting some, but she drinks about 3 drops and walks away.
I paid the bill, adding in 4 cans of expensive cat food for her healing. Suggestions were made about soaking her dry food in broth to soften it and make it more nutritious, offering her cooked meat, giving her baby food, etc. All the employees in the office were pleased with her condition and surprised by how loving she was-especially after what she'd been through.
Stay tuned for part two, coming soon....
If you just can't wait to read more, check out this story about Purrsy.