Catchup

Fiona and Tommy wandered freely inside the entire compound, looked after by everyone. They were curious about new tenants, and watched us move into the house next door several months earlier. She was sweet, and gorgeous; dark, thin, and very shy, unlike Tommy, who liked everyone and craved connection. We heard he’d been abused and then orphaned, and so we naturally felt sorry for him. He was always hungry, and so we fed him. They both knew a good thing when they saw it, and soon began hanging around our house -even in between meals, and sometimes all night. We already had 2 cats of our own, but these two came with the compound. Whaddaya gonna do?

Fortunately they all got along pretty well, and we enjoyed the routines that developed. They liked to run out and greet us whenever we arrived home by motorbike, and then excitedly lead us back into our private yard, racing each other or darting half way up the trees. Manix was cat sheriff. He tried to keep Tommy from running off with everyone’s mackerel. Every so often, he and another cat would meet nose-to-nose for their 3:15 a.m. territory debate, and go on and on with that horrible, low and high, drawn-out, cat-shrieking. Have you seen this? -such odd and funny posturing goes on too! Our water squirter came in handy.

Our 4th cat, Jingga, spent most of the last 13 months away from us, in a cat adoption clinic called Villa Kitty, enduring a very painful (and painfully slow) recovery following stomach surgery. No one thought it would take so long, but a large benign tumor was found hiding behind a routine abscess, and things went from bad to worse. A big oblong-worth of Jingga’s belly skin needed to be removed, and it would take 3-4 months for a hole that size to heal. He’d need to stay at the clinic, isolated in a large, bamboo cage, and wear a cone around his neck 24/7. Poor guy! This was going to be hard on him. Ha! Little did we know…

About a week or two later, I arrived to a horrible sight. Jingga suddenly had several large, raw, horrible open wounds on his back -ala road rash- that were not there the day before. He was in a terrible condition, and to make matters worse, nobody could -or-would- say what happened!! The Australian owner of the clinic, Elizabeth was properly aghast and dismayed. We knew two things: that her all-Indonesian staff was a committed group of animal lovers. But also that her clinic was the only real option we had. We had to accept that Jingga’s newest wounds were due to an accident or maybe a moment’s carelessness, and hoped that someone learned from it. But mostly now we needed to focus on Jingga’s suddenly much-more-complex-and-lengthy recovery.

But oh, poor boy. He was seeping and bandaged from tail to neck, and wearing that cone. He was in pain, and in shock, and could not easily move or get comfortable. I stroked his brow over and over and spoke calmly to him, and imagined us repeating this scene for the next 5-6 months. Slowly over this time he began to step out onto my lap and just curl down -sometimes with a slight purr. It was touch and go for months, and some of his days were better than others. But the look in his eyes made me feel that he would eventually recover, and that he was not suffering “too much”.

Then upon a routine visit 2-3 months later, I found him really not well. Unusually lethargic and withdrawn, he looked terrible, really down. Jennifer and I returned the next day to observe him, with Elizabeth. We all saw a defeated, suffering animal, and all agreed that his suffering needed to stop. Why so sudden a plunge? Nobody could say, maybe he’d just reached his limit. As necessary, the clinic euthanizes on Sundays. We decided to reunite the next night (Saturday) to see how Jingga was, and perhaps likely say goodbye to him, and then mourn with Elizabeth over dinner. She and her staff had put so much time and effort to help Jingga recover. It felt even worse to think about how hard his last few months had been, when we could’ve just euthanized him then and saved all his suffering.

That following fateful day was an important and festive Balinese holiday called Kuningan. We attended a spectacular and moving prayer ceremony that day in the village of Mas. It was among our favorite ceremonies we’ve seen. We loved the varied music, dance, and prayer activities happening throughout the temple grounds, and poking around the pop-up tarp market built for this annual event. But Jingga was never far from our minds, and we eventually made our reluctant way to Villa Kitty to face the hard reality. To our collective astonishment however, Jingga was alert and happy and very alive and energetic when we arrived -much more so than he’d ever been. There was no explanation for why he went so far down for a few days, and none for why he suddenly came back up. But up he was -as if his life depended on it! Jennifer and I enjoyed a delicious, wine-infused, dinner at Elizabeth’s home behind the clinic, and toasted to life’s surprises.

Jingga never looked back. His appetite increased, and his diet changed. I began to bring him choice food to gobble down -and extra for the other cats. My arrivals became popular with the cats, and he became the celebrity with the longest recovery ever at Villa Kitty. Within a few weeks he’d pop-up and yowl happily and shred the newspaper inside his bamboo cage upon seeing me or Jennifer arrive from afar. He was healing, but…strangely and too slowly. The fur from his mysterious back wounds eventually grew back in -bleached white instead of orange due to stress- which is likely permanent. His original stomach wound however, was becoming a concern. While it had healed a lot over 9 months time, it seemed “stuck” now, unable to close and mend fully.

Several weeks later, things were still the same, and time was really now a factor. It was nearing a year since his first surgery (!), and we planned an important and lengthy return to the Bay Area. We needed Jingga to be healthy, fully-healed, and home-tested before we left -a scenario growing less likely every day. Then, a BIG break. A new veterinary clinic opened several kilometers to our north. Their cages and living environment were much more isolating and depressing than at Villa Kitty. Jingga would be mostly alone there, often in the dark, in a smaller, steel box, without his usual attention and comforts. But- this new clinic was more medically oriented, and their doctors had 2 aggressive ideas that seemed worth the tradeoff -and which felt better to us than doing nothing differently. After a few weeks of trying, their first approach failed. So they opted for plan B and performed a complicated skin graft (using Jingga’s own skin), and which required dozens of stitches.

Those first few days after this surgery -his 4th- were especially hard for Jingga, but he indeed recovered quickly after that went home 3 weeks later, all fixed up, able to run and jump and chase Manix, just like the doctors predicted. It was amazing. But by that time I was in California, so Jennifer got the privelidge of witnessing Jingga’s actual, at-long-last, honest-to God, happy and healthy home-coming. She reported that he’s playful as always, but now more affectionate, calm and connective, and that he purrs easily and likes laps. All Jingga will say is that he saw a long white tunnel and heard the voice of Morgan Freeman.

We’re so very glad that this difficult chapter has ended, and offer our deepest gratitude to Elizabeth, the doctors and staff and everyone at Villa Kitty and Sunset Veterinary clinic. And to all animal clinics, animal lovers, and animals everywhere.

-matt

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. mk
    Jun 23, 2015 @ 01:43:50

    Beautiful ! Yay Jingga..and to all who helped this amazing kitty..

    Reply

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