What would you do if your family pet became severely handicapped, or blind? Well, that’s exactly what happened in our family. One of our cats, Scootie, who was about 5 years old at the time, became totally blind. I mean, no eyeballs-blind. At the emergency vet’s office, we were advised that it would be quite an undertaking to care for a totally blind cat, especially in a household of cats that had full access to the outdoors by way of a ‘cat door’. When he asked us what we wanted to do, we looked at each other and then both told him to just sew him up so we could take him home. We figured that since he was a very active, healthy cat, he, and we, would simply adjust. Let me introduce you to the bravest, most inspirational creature I have ever known…
When we found him by a dumpster at Daniel Village, behind the Deli, he came right up to me. I picked him up, and decided at that moment, that we would take him home. This three month old solid black kitten integrated fairly well into our three cat family.
A couple weeks after he moved in with us, he turned up missing. My husband, Les rode our Harley around the neighborhood looking for him. He asked some guys that were building new houses down the street from us if they had seen a black cat. They had, and told Les that he had walked through their fresh poured concrete driveway a couple times, causing them some extra work. When Les saw the kitten, he picked him up, put him down in one of the big leather saddle bags, and brought him home. When Les opened up the saddle bag to let him out, he just looked up as if to say ‘cool ride, why stop now’. He wasn’t scared or spooked at all. We started calling him Scooter, then it became Scootie.
Scootie wasn’t afraid of anything. One day, when the guys with Big Dog tree service were taking down some large trees in our yard, with lots of big, loud equipment, he was right out there watching. Just nosey. We had to pick him up to get him out of their way.
He loved chasing squirrels. It was amazing to watch him run them down, even up fences and trees. He was so fast! He was actually taking his revenge on them all. One day, as a kitten, he climbed up a tree, ran into a baby squirrel, and the mama attacked him. Scootie fell out of the tree, on his back, with the mama squirrel still attacking him. Ever since that day, he chased, and dispatched a lot of squirrels.
During a Thanksgiving holiday weekend when Scootie was about three years old, he came running in the house, through the cat door, so fast it seemed like someone was chasing him. Then we saw that he was bleeding. We took him to the emergency vet and found that he had been shot with a pellet gun. The vet said that taking out the pellet would cause much more tissue damage than to leave it in. Additionally, it was then that we found out that he had feline immune deficiency disease. The vet said that this would cause difficulties healing, and that people often ‘put down’ cats that have this disease. Not us. That was just not an option to us. That pellet caused him to limp, but didn’t slow him down too much. He still had squirrels to chase.
One Friday night , late, when Les and I got home from work, we found Scootie on the back of the couch, really still. He didn’t come to me when I called to him. When we went to him, we found him sick, in shock, and one eye was damaged. Off to the vet, they removed his eye and sewed him up. We kept him in our guest bedroom, so none of the other cats would bother him and so he couldn’t get out the cat door. As he healed up we let him out among the other cats. That was going ok, but he really wanted to go outside. When he was isolated in the spare room, he tried to dig out, ripping up the carpet. There were two other doors he tried to dig his way past. This became a real problem. The only solution was to have him declawed-front paws only-even though we were definitely not fans of this surgery. Then we replaced the carpet.
We wanted to keep Scootie indoors, permanently, but he didn’t like that idea at all. We would take him out on supervised outings, but eventually, he was using the cat door again. He wasn’t afraid of anything.
It was about nine months later when panic struck again. He went missing. We went neighbor to neighbor, put flyers up and walked in search of Scootie. Two days later a neighbor called and said he thought he could see our cat in their back yard. He wasn’t moving. We went right over. Scootie was hiding and weak. His other eye was damaged. We never did figure out what kind of critter took his eyes, but he lost both of them.
They say cats have nine lives, I am a believer. Scootie was an amazing cat, from the first day I met him I knew he was special. People that know me, know I love animals, all of them. But Scootie really was special. He still cruised outside, still chased squirrels, lizards, birds. A friend actually saw him catch and kill a squirrel-even though he was blind, declawed and crippled in the hip. Amazing. He lived to be 14 years old, and died after battling cancer as valiantly as any person.
The reason I am sharing Scootie’s story is that I want everyone to know that animals are much more brave, resilient and self reliant than people. They never feel sorry for themselves. He is still an inspiration to me. If your family pet suffers a severe injury, help him through it. He will be fine. If you have a chance to adopt a pet that has challenges, I urge you to go ahead and take him into your life. He will be extremely grateful that you saved his life and will be a dear companion for the rest of his life.