Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Change of Plans

Or "How Being a Nice Guy Means You Miss Your Concert and Get to Go to the Emergency Room Instead..."

I should start by explaining that Easter has never been at the top of my "favorite holidays" list (yeah, I have one... what of it? I have lists for everything). I'm not into the religious aspect, I'm not a big eater of candy (or plastic eggs or marshmallow chicks...), and Spring is ranked 4th place on my "list of favorite seasons" (see? told ya...) That said, this weekend wasn't that big a deal, though I did have some plans that I'd made a month or longer ago.

Those initial plans involved a field trip with some folks from work to go on one of the monthly paintball excursions (I missed every, single one last year... and I was the one who gave the the idea in the first place....) Then on Wednesday or Thursday the plan got postponed because of the weather (who wants to go run around in the rain and the mud? The answer to that question, incidentally, is "Andy," who was quite upset that we postponed, but that's another story...)

So I came up with alternate plans. I found out from the ADSW mailing list that there was a free concert at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. It sounded pretty cool (and was free), plus there was an exhibit there that also interested us. Awesome.

Then on Friday my cell rings near the end of the day. I don't recognize the number, but it's local so I answer it. It's D. from AWLA -- would we be interested in fostering a momma cat and her fresh out of the oven six (count 'em... six...) babies. Recalling that as recently as a month ago MLW said that if we were going to foster again, we'd go for an adult cat, I told D. I'd check and get back to her, but I wasn't really sure. Much to my surprise (well, sorta), MLW totally said, "Yeah, sure." Okay, because they won't be a lot of time or effort I'm sure... for three months or so... But whatever.

So today (Saturday) after diddling around a bit, I went over the shelter to pick up the latest batch and their supplies. It took longer than I was expecting (which again, based on my past experiences was silly, but then, that's what I do... mis-estimate time) and by the time I got home and we got everyone situated where they were supposed to be, it was too late for us to get into DC. Ah, well... no harm, no foul... Maybe I could get in a nap...

I was finishing up something on the computer (the story of my life). MLW goes upstairs; she wanted to check on things, since we heard a the metal gate fall down (we'd gotten a rabbit pen -- a collapsible set of metal fences that we use to hold the rabbits at the shelter. I had thought we could use it to sort of block our monsters from getting into the bathroom while at the same time keeping the foster cats in, even though the kittens are not really locomoting yet...) And then a few minutes later, the screaming started. There was a yell, something to the effect of "Damn it!" which in this context usually means a cat got past where it was supposed to be able to go. And then things got worse. And the screaming intensified... human screaming, cat screaming, I was pretty sure I heard something else in there too.

"Guess I'd better get upstairs," I thought, taking the laptop from my lap and placing it besides me, just as the phrase, "I need some HELP up here..." came wafting down the stairs. Running up the stairs, I go.

What I see is indeed a bizarre and disturbing sight. I run past Morrigan and Artemis, who are both poofed*. MLW is standing, with her back to the guest bathroom (which doubles as "Foster Cat HQ" in Schloss O'Mazur), she's got the folded up gate in-between her and Loki (our oldest and resident Grumpy grump) who is also poofed and is growling and striking out in her general direction. One of her (MLW's) legs I can plainly see is covered in blood. Artemis runs into this view (still poofed) and rapidly smacks Loki in the nose three or four times, then tears away. This happens at least twice.

I think I foolishly, inquired as to what happened, while MLW is basically screaming for me to get him (Loki) away from her. So, wearing a short sleeve shirt (no arm protection!), I move towards Loki. I make sure he sees me, and I hold my hand out and I just hope he does not bite too hard. Much to my (later) surprise, I realize he let me pick him up and carry him away without so much as a scratch. I hold him tightly and take him into the bedroom.

MLW comes through and says she's going to rinse her leg off to see how bad the damage is. After a moment or two of holding and soothing words, I let Loki go, he retreats to the far side of the bed. Meanwhile, Morrigan and Artemis take turns running in and out of the doorway, alternately poofing. At this point I notice that Eris (who usually has not the slightest compunction for her own well-being or safety) has been hiding under our bed during (I presume) this entire episode.

I go to attend to MLW. She is, looking kinda queasy (adrenaline always does that to her)... and quite frankly her leg looks like she was mauled by a small, yet demented shark on crack. "What happened?" I ask again, in an effort to try and understand the carnage I'm now inspecting.

As best as we can tell, Artemis knocked the "fence" down, probably in a failed effort to climb it, which made the crashing noise. MLW went in to check on momma cat. Momma cat hissed at her and MLW decided, "okay, I can take a hint" and backed out the room. But as she backed through the door, Momma charged her, taking a brief, drive-by chomp/scratch combo. Encountering the metal fence, she turned and ran back in the room. MLW closed the door. Problem solved, or so the uninitiated might think...

Now much as I try, I'm no cat expert. Cats are mysterious creatures, cloaked in riddles, wrapped in enigmas. And in the case of our four, dipped in a little crazy sauce for that extra "SHAZAM!" that makes life interesting... Maybe momma was exuding pheromones. Maybe fear has an tangible smell. Maybe my little ones don't like change. Maybe Loki was happy being an only and every time we bring in a foster group he fears we're going to give him just a little bit less of our time, his food, or love or that for some reason (and I don't know why he'd think this...) we're going to add to the O'Mazur pride and he'll have more little monsters to deal with. I dunno. All I know is that he went all Chompy McBiteypants on MLW's lovely leg. I mean, "ouch."

But it's good; it's good for me to practice my first aid skills. I really don't get much opportunity to use that merit badge knowledge if it weren't for MLW. So much surgical grade rubbing alcohol and 15 or more band-aids of various shapes and sizes later, MLW had more or less stopped bleeding. (Later I realized there was blood on the carpet and she'd gotten some on the wall, but one thing at a time...)

So while 95% of the bites were Loki, for whom we could vouch for, shots and paperwork-wise, I figured I needed to report the bite from momma shelter cat. So I called SD, my favoritist of my AWLA peeps. We talk. And talk. And then there are other calls. And conference calls.

On the plus side, no one was going to need to get a needle. On the downside, both SD and D. insisted that MLW go to the hospital. To emphasize their point, they each broke out five or six, "I saw this one person get a cat bit -- tiny little kitten, barely broke the skin... they had to amputate his whole arm.." stories. I love those stories. We had already decided (well, I had anyway... MLW can be funny about this stuff...) that she needed to go see her doctor on Monday. But they were insistent, and hell, we didn't have anything else we were going to do tonight anyway (I kid...)

So one exciting visit to INOVA Alexandria Hospital's Emergency Room later (only took about an hour, and I only saw one person with a nearly severed finger) -- this, curiously, being both of our first visits to an emergency room (if you don't count dropping off and picking up) -- and a subsequent stop at the CVS to pick up the antibiotics, well, I believe MLW will be walking again...

No, seriously, everything is fine. And Loki seems okay these days. And we've set the gate up in sort of an airlock, kind of set-up so we should be good from here on out. And the babies, while still in "mutant bear worm™" stage are kinda cute.

More details and possibly names and photos (of the kitties, not MLW's wounds) to follow.

What did you do today?

* = "poofed" is a word we use to describe the body-language and posture of a cat that is either scared or angry. "Poofing" can just occur in the tail or even part of the tail and can start from the tip down or base up. The hair along the spine can also get involved.

1 comment:

Lisa Clarke said...

Holy cow, that's one heck of a story! Glad there will be no amputations necessary.