CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{October 18, 2006}   Cat ER

03_04.JPGLast Tuesday, I headed to my closet to hunt for something clean to wear, which can be a laborious task. There, my cat slept on his side, not moving. Strange. He never slept in there. Hmm, perhaps he was cold. Then I looked at his eyes. Open halfway, sunken in, the eyes had a certain pained, almost evil tint. I’ve seen this animal look before. Exactly four times.

See, I worked with horses for fifteen years. Once, I saw this look in the eyes of a fancy show jumper, a gelding who died ten minutes after I called the vet. The second time I saw that look, it was in the eyes of a mare. While riding her, she reared up, flipped over backwards, and landed inches away from me. She should’ve landed on top of me. It was purely a miracle. The third time I saw that look, it was in the eyes of a pony who almost died from foundering. He was never the same again. The fourth, I saw that look in the eyes of a pony who died after hours of struggling with colic. The look says this: something’s got me bad, bad, and I may give in to it. I haven’t decided yet.

I threw my cat in his cage, rushing him to the ER. Sure enough, he was deathly ill. It was as stressful as having a friend in the hospital. When I took him home, he was too weak to move, even to use the litter box. Both paws shaved from IVs, and his neck shaved for some unknown reason, he pissed all over the apartment, unable to walk. So I took him to my vet, where he spent the night again. He’s only four years old.

The next day, he was better. The vet mumbled some complex med language she thought I didn’t understand, but I did. The cat’s eyes had returned to their natural state, a state of purity, goodness, life. I knew my boy was gonna make it.

I heard some people say, “I can’t believe you’re spending all that money to save a cat.” People think that since I was a horse trainer, I’m some kind of animal nut. Not so. Actually, years of working with them has hardened me. I’ve helped put horses down. My horse’s leg was shattered in a field in a freak accident, and he had to be put down. I’ve seen horses die in their stalls. I’ve had to call someone to pick up bodies. The whole bodies were too stiff and large to fit through stall doors. You can imagine the rest.

So I’ve seen some gruesome animal injuries and deaths. But this cat had never been sick. True, I spent oodles of money I don’t have. But when it comes to saving my closest buddy’s life, I say, fuck money. It’d be different if he were in chronic pain. Then I might have to make some decisions. But all around me, people were suggesting that I was a fanatic for saving my cat. I had the flu two weeks ago. I wonder if those same people would put me down.

I’m grateful he can sit on my shoulder while I write again. The way I figure, call me a fanatic, but he deserved every cent I spent. Moral of the story: I trust my instincts.

C.A. MacConnell


Joan says:

I would have done exactly what you did! I’ve had my cat Buster for 3 years now and knock on wood he’s been healthy but if something goes wrong with his health, I’ll do whatever I need to do to get him well.

jake says:

that’s a fine lookin’ cat!!

Polly says:

Yes, I would have done what you did also. I love cats, and have two of my own. I have lost track of how much money I have spent on vet bills over the years. Is it a waste of money? Of course not. They are my family.

CA I also always enjoy your music stories in City Beat.

Shelly says:

I don’t have cats but I do have a dog and yeah, I would have done the same thing for him.

Barney says:

Nope. Sorry. Even if I had the money which I don’t I wouldn’t spend it on a cat.

Karen @ the hood says:

I don’t know what I would do. I have no extra money and couldn’t even borrow any because everyone I know is broke. I love animals but since I’m living here in the hood, it’s probably best I don’t have pets but I’m glad your cat is now better and hope he stays that way.

My brother’s dog got hit by a car many years ago, and we had to put him down because we didn’t have the money to fix him. We didn’t really have the money to put him down, and the vet wanted us to pay up before they would do anything at all.

When my dog got injured and had to have surgery on her leg, I wrote a check to the vet that night and cancelled it the next morning. I still payed them (they were the only animal E.R. in town, so I couldn’t stiff them), but it bought me some time to get the money.

I would do almost anything for my animals. They live such short lives as it is. My dog and cat are an important part of the family, and they give us so much love and fluffiness. They definately earn their keep!

C.A. MacConnell says:

my cats need to start paying rent, for real. Either that or clean some. I had this little Maltese growing up, Tater. Her full name was Mrs. Potato Head. She wasn’t a little yippy dog, but she was little. When I go to my mom’s, I still sometimes put my foot up to block the door so Tater won’t get out. She’s been dead for years, but I still think she’s gonna run out the door.

Marilyn says:

CA, I agree with your instincts.

The folks who would call you a fanatic for saving your cat obviously don’t understand the deep bond that can develop between humans and animals.

When I was a kid, we had an assortment of “ourside” dogs and cats. I liked them and spent some time with them. But it wasn’t until I became an adult and shared living space with a couple of cats and a little dog, that I realized how intensely connected I could become to animal friends. And they to me.

That friendship and connection are a gift, we need to cherish it.

hey ca, cool cat story. ya know, my whole instinct thing is a mess. but, i’ll say this about pets. i can’t do it anymore. i get too attached. the neighbor’s cat is really cool. i hang with him on the porch, talk to him, and he’s always there at just the right time. esp. in the cool summer rain. and when he gets sick, i tell my neighbor. man, it’s just the way it has to be. i have horror stories that i don’t like to tell. they still mess me up. sorry.

Gary says:

I love cats. You did the right thing, CA.

caroline says:

marilyn is right about that deep bond between humans and animals. you have laugh, but i once had a pet mouse that died of cancer last year. he was about four years old. i cryed like a baby.

Biscuit says:

I like the story CA- It occurs to me that I don’t know where the ER is for cats. I have my little kitty and I would be fucked up if it went to the light.

I agree -the cats need to start pulling their weight around the house- a little cleaning, balancing the checkbook, something. I’m also getting tired of all long distance phone bills that come in and the Pay Per View cable bills. Whenvever I call my kitty on it she’s like “yea, whatever dude” …actually she just says “meow”, curls up on my lap and all is forgiven.

Barbara says:

Barney takes the cold approach to animals. I don’t think women do.

Fred says:

CA –

I got my cat paying some rent now. He’s washing dishes over at Sitwell’s. He hates to get his paws wet but that’s part of the job.

Darlene says:

If I were rich, I’d buy a farm and then buy some horses. Then I would hire you so you could show me what to do. I love them.

numb says:


lynn says:

i know you have no self doubt that you did what had to be done, namely taking care of the cat you love. i don’t understand how some people can be so cold with it comes to animals. i remember when i read that larry gross piece about the dog being dropped on the road and then killed by a car, i cried. so mean. so mean.

shely says:

CA, what’s your cat’s name?

Marilyn says:

Wow, you guys who are putting your cats to work, you rule!

My best friend (since 4th grade, and I’m old) has 5 cats in the house and has adopted and “fixed” all the outside neighborhood cats. She’s still not got this figured out. Her cats run the house and the yard.

I think I’ll link her to these responses so she can figure out where she’s going wrong!

hard as nails says:

maybe you think a guy with a name like hard as nails wouldn’t like cats but i get where you’re coming from. we need to treat our animals better and you have a good heart.

Marilyn says:

Caroline, my daughter had mice for a while. They are actually really cool pets. And, in my experience, they are waaaay nicer than hampsters (which I’ve had as pets!).

Right now, I have only a monk parrot (Chester the Molester) and an evil tiger barb (fish — named Tigger). It’s almost time for me to look into adopting a LITTLE dog (I can’t walk a big dog — they drag me off my arty leg!)… I’ve been looking around.

kathy says:

i love parrots? does your talk?

Jeff- or-ly says:

You THREW your cat in a cage? How mean of you!!!! Kidding!!!!!!!!!

Barry says:

Most of you are going to think I’m mean, but no, I wouldn’t spend tons of money to keep a cat alive.

Cats have no soul. They are different than humans. They are animals. Don’t get me wrong, I would never mistreat an animal, but go through fire and rain to keep one alive? No. For my children, my parents and close friends? Yes.

Marilyn says:

Kathy, a monk parrot is a small, not REAL parrot, but yeah Chester talks.

He’s only a little over a year old, so he’s still learning. He says, Bye-bye, does a wolf whistle and imitates my husband’s laugh perfectly. Oh, and he imitates the tones whenever we push in a phone number on the phone!

He’s a brat, but we love him!

Karen says:


Animals have no soul? What a jackass you are.

Bobby Dee says:


kathy says:

that is so cool!! i’m heading out the door but can i ask a personal question? How much did you pay for chester? i may want to get a bird like him. also, is he messy?

C.A. MacConnell says:

Animals have deep, deep souls. Deeper than humans, I have a hunch. That’s been my experience. Horses communicate through movement, yes, but I could look in the eye of one mare and know she hated me. Or I could look in the eye of another gelding and know he adored me. I could feel it, just like with people. Spend more time with them Barry, and their expressions and feelings will come clear to you. And the depth that lies behind their eyes will also come out, if you watch, pay attention and listen. Horses particularly….they taught me to listen. That’s what they do. They wait, listen, watch people make asses of themselves, and love us anyhow. Not all of them. Some are disturbed, mean, violent, just like people. Damn straight they have souls, deep, deep, unfathomable souls.

Polly says:

Of course cats, all animals have souls. I feel sorry for Barry. He’s missing out on a lot of life.

Heather says:

What is a soul, really? How can quantify who qualifies as having a soul? When I was little, my dogs always knew when I was sad, even when my parents didn’t. I don’t know how many times I cried into the furry shoulder of animal, who came into my bedroom, ears down, and quietly snuggled up to me. Quiet and tender. Soft and warm when everything else in the world is hard and cold.

And now my cat, who never sleeps with us, ALWAYS curls up with me when I have a migraine. Soft and quiet.

I don’t know what a soul is, or if souls even exist, but I know that animals are not lesser beings than people. In some ways, I agree with C.A., they’re more. Animals are not smart enough to know how to lie.

Marilyn says:

Kathy, YES, Chester is messy. No matter what, he’ll toss his birdseed and fruit treats around and invariably, you’ll have to vacumn around his cage frequently. This is my only gripe with a bird.

My husband paid about $200 for him (in that range). I wasn’t living with hubby when he bought Chester, but I’ve come to like him (The bird not my husband — evil laugh!).

Be forewarned: These birds are also noisy. They don’t just talk, they squeak and squawk. Chester gets anxious whenever I leave the room (like now, I’m in my computer room, and he’s raising hell).

But he’s cool… you just have to make adjustments in YOUR life!

kathy says:

Thanks, Marilyn. I’m thinking about getting one.

Joe says:

Cats have souls. All animals do, EVEN human animals.

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