This lovely piece was sent in to us by one of our clients. It follows the life of his cat Sneaker, before and after a life changing accident.
Sneaker adopted us around 9 years ago. He arrived one morning, at around 3am, and battered on the cat-flap until it collapsed. He then marked his arrival by eating any food left down for our legitimate cats, and spraying over our furniture. With this job complete, he proceeded to sing loudly, until 15 minutes before our alarm went off.
Three cat-flaps, vast quantities of household cleaning products, and a neutering later, he still wanted to live with us. By this point, he had earned the name ‘Sneaker’, due to his incredible ability to get in to the house. This was usually by tail-gating one of our other cats through the cat-flap, or by sneaking into the house whenever a door had been left open.
Sneaker June 2015
Sneaker soon established himself as ‘Top-cat’ in our cul-de-sac. Although he didn’t start any fights, he was often the victim of attacks by other cats. This resulted in one or two trips to Yorkshire Vets Thornbury, over the next 9 years or so.
Sneaker is a matey-cat, i.e. he likes to be friends with anybody and anything. He will approach cat, dog, squirrel, human, or vehicle, just on the off chance that one of them might have food to share. Indeed, we recently discovered that he has at least six different feeding venues!
Sneaker (drawing Summer 2016)
We are lucky to live in a cat-friendly cul-de-sac, so most people will slow down when they see him lying in the middle of the road. They either wait for him to amble out of the way, or will get out of their car, pick him up & move him. Some even drive onto the pavement to go around him!
For years we’d been saying that someone will run him over one day…….. I just never expected it to be me. On Saturday 10th Sept 2016, my son and I were late setting off to training. We didn’t notice that he’d plonked himself under the front of the car, and set off before he’d had chance to move.
After the initial panic upon realisation of what had just happened, we made an emergency dash to the vets. We didn’t really hold much hope that he would make it there. I felt so sorry for my 15 year old son, who had Sneaker in an open basket on his knees, bleeding from his mouth and struggling to breathe.
After a quick but thorough examination, the attending vet admitted Sneaker and gave him pain relief, but his hopes of survival were slim. No phone call during the night would be a good thing.
The next morning, having received no over-night phone call, we were cautiously optimistic, yet under no illusion that he was in a bad way. The vets reported that Sneaker would need his jaw reconstructing. There was also a good chance that he had nerve damage, or lost the use of one leg, and one of his eyes was still swollen and unresponsive. If he was to make it through the next 24-48 hours, then he would definitely need surgery.
Sneaker 48 hours after the accident
Sneaker’s condition stabilised, and he perked up with any contact from humans, even more so when he received visits from home. His purr is enough to make anyone smile and relax. Surgery followed, to wire his jaw and fit a feeding tube. He made it through the operation, but his eye was still unresponsive and clearly bothering him. Further surgery would need to follow.
Two days later he had his eye removed. Again, the surgery went well, and he looked far more comfortable that evening. He was even able to great his visitors with a louder purr. So far he was proving to be a bit of a surprise to everyone. He’d already won the hearts of the staff at Thornbury hospital and was defying the odds, proving that this cat has a huge will for life.
Knowing that he’d lost an eye, the guilt was still high with me. Because it was looking likely that Sneaker would make it home, I made him an eye patch and bought a set of stick on eyes. If he was to play out again, he’d need something to make him less scary to his mates……. Maybe I should just stop thinking!
The day of his eye removal
Despite having his jaw wired, Sneaker was starting to eat more solid food and he grew stronger day by day. Just two weeks after his accident he was fit enough to come home. By this point, he’d become a bit of a Facebook folk hero, with people asking after him from our world wide network of friends. After coming home, Sneaker needed to spend a couple of weeks inside to continue his recovery. His reintroduction the the cul-de-sac would have to wait.
The next ten days or so were a combination of Sneaker getting stronger, and the other two cats getting used to his new look. One of them was a bit freaked out, but both were tolerant and gentle around him. During this time, many people from our street popped in to visit him. Some even brought ‘kitty nibbles’ to welcome him back. He soon began camping by the back door, waiting to go out. He also began pestering the other two cats to play with him.
When he was finally allowed to go out, he spent a long time sniffing around, close to the house, with his one good eye wide open. He wouldn’t wander far from us, which was a bit of a relief. He was also cautious around people who approached him (though less so if they had food!).
At one point he was confronted by one of the ‘tougher’ cats on the street. Fortunately, instead of a stand-off and those horrible noises cats can make, there was just silence. A quick kitty-kiss followed, with an acceptance that the pecking order had changed. Amazing!
Sneaker the miracle cat continues to get stronger every day. He’s able to come and go as he pleases, and his fur is growing back nicely. There doesn’t seem to be any issue with his legs and he’s adapted to life with one eye remarkably well. He’s certainly proved to be one tough cookie!