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Featured Creature: Kat's Cat

  • Name: Taz
  • Pet Human: Kate Dart
  • Motto: Never, ever, give up.

I was 18 when I met Taz at the Cat Haven. I’d wanted a female black cat, but the only mostly black cat was Taz and he was (obviously) a male. I held his tiny body in the palm of my hand – he had big paws on the end of his skinny legs and his long fur was matted into dreadlocks. When I looked at my sister and asked ‘do you think I should get him?’, he promptly nuzzled into my neck. There was a resounding ‘awww’ throughout the Cat Haven. Whether I wanted him or not – he wanted me.

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Taz and I have been together for many years now, but there was one day, not too long ago, when time stood still. I got a phone call from a man who told me he’d seen Taz in the jaws of a Staffordshire bull terrier. He’d had to kick the dog to scare it enough to let Taz go – and when he did, Taz was a crumpled mess and unable to stand. When I saw Taz, I fell to pieces – something I would do several times over the next 2 weeks.

I rushed Taz to the 24 hour Balcatta Vet Hospital where he needed to be constantly monitored. He had a visible cut over his eye, but because his long fur was so thick, the vet couldn’t find any other wounds. Taz wouldn’t let anyone near him to shave his fur off, and he wasn’t stable enough to go under anaesthetic, so it was time to play the waiting game.

Day 1: The vet told me Taz was too unstable to see me. They had finally been able to put him under and shave his fur to find the wounds. They found several around his back hips and the muscles and tendons from his left leg were completely torn apart. They had also found a puncture that went inside his body. They were going to have to operate. They only gave Taz a 50% chance of survival, and it was going to cost me more than $5000. Still, I knew that if anyone was strong enough to get through this it would be Taz. I told them to go ahead with the surgery.

Day 2: The operation had gone well. The tooth didn’t puncture his lungs, as they had originally feared. Now we would have to wait to see if his organs shut down after the surgery. His breathing was laboured, indicating fluid around his lungs – if the fluid was also in his lungs, his chance of survival would decrease.

Day 3: We waited. He had been on an oxygen tank since being admitted to hospital. He was on a drip, which pumped all different types of painkillers and medications into his body. And he had a tube in his throat, which pumped food into him because he refused to eat.

Day 4: After more surgery they had found that the fluid was around his lungs and inside his lungs. His protein levels were also dangerously low as his body fought against infections. The doctors also feared his heart was not pumping properly. I went to visit him. The vet sat me down and told me things were looking bad and she didn’t think he was going to survive. His blood was not holding together and lots of fluid was leaking into his body. When I saw him my heart and my hope broke. His blood was leaking so much fluid that he had swelled up to almost twice his size. This was the first day he didn’t recognise who I was, and it was the first day I cried in front of him.

Day 5: The vets played catch-up with his organs. As one organ started to shut down they pumped him full of medication to try to combat it. Sometimes they found a type of medication would start to shut down another organ so they would take him off it and try a different medication. We waited for his body to fight. They used a needle to pull some of the fluid from around his lungs to help him breathe, but there was nothing they could do for the fluid inside his lungs – that was up to his body.

Day 6: Miraculously his condition started to turn around as his organs started to function without the help of medication. They took him off the oxygen tank but kept the feeding tube because he still wouldn’t eat. Finally, I could hold him and tell him we were going to be okay.

Day 7: The vet told me I could take him home. He still couldn’t walk, but he was hopping around on 3 legs. It still hurt him immensely to use the left back leg, which was very swollen and bruised, and he still wouldn’t eat.

Back at home, I had to feed him through a tube. It was hard to see him so helpless. Then one day as I was watching him sleep and pumping the special (horribly smelly) protein food into his feeding tube, the word ‘tuna’ came loud and clear into my head. I immediately got the stinkiest tuna I could find. When I put it in his plate he went to it immediately!

That was the beginning of a long road to recovery. He is doing better, but half of his fur is still growing back and my housemate says he looks like a metrosexual with his new haircut. He can walk on his left leg now, although sometimes he’s a bit shaky and he can’t jump very high. He has large scars on this back hips and in those places the fur grows back as black as pitch – much darker than the rest of his fur. It’s as though his skin is changed from the memory of what happened – I think we both are.

by Kate Dart

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