I guess this is as good a time as any to introduce everyone to our newest family member, Lord Nibbler. Let me start by saying this - I couldn't picture myself ever voluntarily going to a shelter and adopting a cat like Nibbler. I always wanted a grey cat. Well, I wanted a short-haired grey cat with big yellow eyes. Instead, I have Nibbler. Or maybe Nibbler has me.
According to our vet, Nibbler is about 7 months old. He's also a bit of a mess, and I don't mean just his personality. Nibbler is, quite possibly, the result of inbreeding. He has a host of issues, the most obvious of which would be his two front paws. They are contracted at odd angles, something typically called "tendon contractures." It's a birth defect that can often be corrected if caught at birth. The correction process involves a lot of time, patience, and a slew of splints to stretch the legs back into as normal a position as possible. Nibbler wasn't so lucky. At 7 months, his anatomy is developed enough that his legs would have to be broken to even begin to attempt correction. Considering his health, age, and mobility, the vet and I did not think surgery would be a good idea.
Nibbler also has scoliosis which results in a short, twisted tail that he often wags like a dog when he is happy. The scoliosis and tendon contractures result in him ambulating like a rabbit, often hopping on his back legs. He'll also engage one or both of his front paws in a slightly antalgic gait. Surprising or not, he cannot "meow" like our other cats. He makes almost a peeping/purr noise (imagine a baby wookie) or screams like a rabbit. In fact, he has so many rabbit-like traits that we have begun jokingly referring to Nibbler as a cabbit, or a cat/rabbit hybrid. Designer breeds? So last year. Cabbits are the new designer species!
He goes back tomorrow for the rest of his vaccines. The vet gave him a mostly clean bill of health - FIV/FELV negative, heartworm negative, and a healthy weight. He did have a severe case of tapeworms, and signs that he had had a severe flea infestation. (When he came into our house, the first thing I did was bathe him and put flea meds on him.) While there were no fleas on him the day of his first vet appointment, he had patches that were almost bald, as well as those raised bumps that appear when so many fleas get on an animal. His skin was also very tough - a sign of living outside and possible dehydration.
Nibbler is certainly a hot mess, but what struck me about him is that he's a survivor. He's beyond that, really, because he doesn't feel sorry for himself, he doesn't play the victim or the unsung hero. He's just a cat. He eats, he plays, he sleeps. He's incredibly sweet and social, which was honestly a surprise to me. He quickly adjusted to our two dogs and two other cats. Heck, he's even adjusted to walking on a leash/harness...well, when it's going the way he wants to.
That's one of life's great lessons, though. People like to can it into cute catchphrases about lemons and courage, but it's so much more simple than that.
Nibbler was the first cat of his kind that our vet had met in person. (She thought he was pretty darn amazing.) She said the only important things right now are to make sure he maintains an ideal weight and is comfortable in his mobility. He could live for months, a few years, or even 20+ years, there's really no way to predict that.
I never thought I'd have a disabled pet in my life (I didn't consider Otto, who was deaf, to really be disabled.). If only I could get him to use the litter box, everything would be peachy!! (Suggestions welcome.) Currently, he is peeing on a puppy pad, but he insists (to the point that he'll move anything in his way) on pooping on the tile bathroom floor...though he sometimes opts for the hardwood. I've tried pan, round, and covered boxes. Boxes with steps, boxes without steps. *sigh*
Anyway, pardon the rambling post to introduce you to Nibbler!! Signing off with a cute picture of Fry and Axle snuggling. :)