Friday, October 01, 2004

And sometimes there is gratitude ( FINAL CAT UPDATE)

"One can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals" (Mahatma Ghandi)

just went to the chemist's to buy the Stilnox. As I was walking out I noticed an orange cat sleeping in the tiny space between the open door and the display window wall, with a little bowl of water in front of him *. I thought "How cute, they have their own shop cat" and leaned over to see him. He wasn't sleeping. He was lying in the pain position in a small pool of blood and his mouth was torn, swollen and bleeding. This is my worst nightmare. I recoiled in horror and rushed back in to find out what had happened to him.

I was told he had just walked in, limping and battered, and had snuck into that space. Cats isolate themselves when they are injured and in pain. From the bit of injuries I saw it seems as though he fell from a window - even when they land on their feet the sheer speed at which they fall often causes the impact to fracture some teeth and sometimes their lower jaw because the head is projected forward and hits the ground. Other than that, he looks great so he obviously belongs to someone but the owners will probably only come home in the evening (it was then 14.20).

When terrible things happen, especially to children and animals, my stomach becomes a very small, tight and heavy place and I feel slightly nauseous. Invariably. More so when I am powerless, i.e., when I either don't know what to do or am unable to do anything. But with a kid you have organisations you can turn to. Not so with animals. I SO WANT to have a branch of the RSPCA here, or at least a bit of RSPCA mentality. Our shelters are poorly funded, there are not enough of them, they are overcrowded and many are torn apart by internal wars that have nothing to do with with animal welfare. Shelters in my city's area are not taking in any animals because they simply don't have the space or funds to house them. Also, the alarming majority has no euthanasia policy.
I need to talk about this. If you embark upon a career as a vet or someone responsible for an animal shelter, YOU MUST be able to handle and perform euthanasia. As a vet you will need to put animals to sleep when their quality of life is gone and prevent them from dying in a horrible manner. You will need to know how to talk to owners because owners will sometimes inflict pain rather than taking that responsibility which is horribly SELFISH (they will also sometimes chose to put down an animal with a treatable disease rather than pay for the treatment). In an animal shelter it is worse because sometimes animals that could be saved MUST be euthanised because there is only so much money. Triage sucks but is necessary because otherwise you end up with what we often have: overcrowded facilities ridden with disease, animals poorly handled and sometimes suffering, and no one receiving proper treatment because there are so many and so little money and few vets doing pro bono work. (I want to go on record saying that I believe that some professions have a moral obligation to do pro bono work: doctors, vets and lawyers. I don't care how busy you are, EVERYONE can donate a bit of their time to make things a whole lot better for some. If you're not doing it, SHAME ON YOU.) If you are unable to cope with this, chose another career, don't make the animals pay the price.

Back to the cat. The chemist lady and the assistants were at a loss re what to do. I said the cat needed to be seen by a vet, there was the danger of internal bleeding (spleens, bladders, lungs) and he may have fractured something. So the lady says "Well but if he's bleeding we shouldn't move him, should we." I just stared at her. WTF??? So I calmly said "It's very much like with people, when they are bleeding internally we must take them to a hospital or THEY WILL DIE." And then they sort of remembered to tell me that a lady had come in a few minutes before I did and had gone home to get a pet carrier and take the cat to a vet. And the lady eventually showed up.

And now for the gratitude part. Vet school overwhelms me. It kills me. It makes me perpetually anxious. The curriculum is outdated to some extent, very taxing, the evaluation is often unfair and random, and the quantity of pages we are expected to memorise - not understand, MEMORISE - is unbelievable (e.g. Biochemistry, in the words of the professor, "a shortened version of a mere 800 pp"). Plus, because of our educational system, I never had any Biology, Maths, Physics or Chemistry past the 9th grade. So half the time I don't even know what they're talking about. I often feel close to desperate and fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've always wanted to work with animals and was doing research in Ethology but a combination of factors worked to show me that what I REALLY REALLY WANTED was to have the power and the knowledge to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. It being not running around like a chicken flapping my wings when an accident happened bcs I don't know what to do (this is why I've also enrolled in a first-aid course. The thought that someone might die because I don't know a very basic procedure is unbearable. I've been waiting for them to call me since MARCH.) So I AM GOING to be a vet if it kills me, and I've always known I will love it even if, as it seems, I will not be able to enjoy a minute of vet school.

But sometimes I forget exactly why I'm doing it.

But I was there today. And because I was there, I could give the lady my contact and tell her I'd help in whatever way I could, and the cat, should he have no fracture or internal injury, just needed to be left alone in quiet place until the owners could retrieve him, and she was so relieved. I could tell the lady that the cat needed to go to the clinic STAT. And I knew how to lift him gently. And I knew to open the top half of the pet carrier instead of shoving him through the little door. And I knew to tell her kid to carry it flat using both hands to hold the bottom and not using the handle which would make it rock, and to have it on his lap in the car. And I can help her when he comes back bcs I know how to give fluids and injections, and how to shove a pill down a cat's oesophagus amd trick him into swallowing it, and how to give him liquid medication with a syringe without causing a secondary pneumonia due to fluid aspiration, and I can check for signs of dehydration, fever and shock, and I knew he was somewhat OK neurologically because I'd automatically checked his puplis and they were normal - and I didn't even realise I'd done it until I'd told her and IT SHOCKED ME. I feel so inadequate academically so much of the time that I didn't know I was, after all, becoming a bit adequate.

I was remembered of why I am doing this. I was remembered that one day I will be the one in the receiving end, not the sending one. Knowing EXACTLY what to do and BEING ABLE to do it. And that is what I am grateful for, so so very grateful for.

Baruch hashem, I AM IN VET SCHOOL!

Don't ever give fluids to an animal that may have internal injuries, the little bit of thirst won't kill him, the water might.

PDATE: Cat will be alright!!! (URL found here). He only broke a few nose bones, apparently. The owners may have also been found, one of the girls at the chemist's saw a note in a supermarket during her lunch break abt a missing cat that she says looks like this one. If so, this is his 2nd fall from a 2nd storey - and if so, he has been missing for a week which is bizarre bcs injuries seemed fresh and he's not dehydrated or thin. And how did he manage not to be run over for so long? Cat is now walking about in his rescuer's home which is a WONDERFUL sign. I'll post more when I know more.
AST UPDATE: Cat IS HOME! Those were the owners! What a glorious, unlikely thing! Hag sameach and shabbat shalom everyone!!!

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At 1/10/04 18:05, Blogger Dale said...

That's wonderful -- a wonderful thing to be grateful for. & a lot of sentient beings, I'm quite sure, will have even more cause to be grateful.

At 1/10/04 19:05, Blogger Lala said...

I think I like you, I like your reaction to the cat anyway. I also like what you posted on Chez Miscarriage the other day. I'll keep reading if you don't mind.

At 1/10/04 21:34, Blogger Lala said...

Good news about the cat!
Responding to your entertaining comments on my site:
That's me standing beside my buddy Julie on my wedding day. I'm wearing a white fur coat rescued from a thrift shop to which I became rudely allergic, the coat not the store. That's what I get for wearing fur. She looks rested because she left the kids at home in Mass. and came all the way to Ontario to stand up with me.
Shabbat Shalom to you but it's not dusk here yet.

At 1/10/04 22:02, Blogger The Lioness said...

Er... Sorry I called you a Yeti, then... But yes, serves you right! I love fur, though, so I go for the fake type. Hag sameach too!

At 2/10/04 02:57, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're going to be a vet.

At 2/10/04 03:09, Blogger The Lioness said...

I regularly entertain thoughts of throwing myself into the river but FINGERS CROSSED!

I'm glad too. THANK YOU. Really.

At 2/10/04 06:32, Blogger brooksba said...

You are an awesome human being. You care about animals and other people and the world needs more people like you. I'm so glad you were there to help this poor feline and make sure the cat got the help it needed. I admire you.

At 2/10/04 15:46, Blogger Beleobus said...

Was it not a great philosopher that remarked something along the lines of... You can tell the advancement of a society by the manner in which they treat their animals.

It is pleasing to see that in some parts of the globe we have come out of the dark ages... finally.

At 2/10/04 15:47, Blogger Beleobus said...

I apologise... upon re-reading you already have the proper quotation here. Oops. I should stick to chicken blogging I think!

Kindest Regards.

At 2/10/04 21:22, Blogger The Lioness said...

Beth - Thank you! You are a sweetie. Beleobus, you were spot on in more ways than one bcs Kant actually says something very similar but IMO Ghandi is more comprehensively right (plus Kant was a bit too cartesian when it came to animals)(although his Kingdom of the Ends is a thing of beauty - post?)(but it's hard to forgive him the animal slight): "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." Still true, though.

At 2/10/04 21:25, Blogger The Lioness said...

Oh. "Of animals AND of his subordinates", I would add. Mother and Father have me well indoctrinated.

At 5/10/04 05:36, Blogger Andrea said...

Glad you enjoy can enjoy pictures of my friends - trust me, there will always be more to come. I admire your dedication to animals by the way; I can't imagine how people can completely disregard their lives.

Concerning your experience with the injured cat the other day, I think there is nothing more frustrating than people insisting that a serious situation is not important. Good for you sticking up for that poor cat.

At 14/7/05 20:24, Anonymous Manuela said...

So glad to hear a happy ending... thank you for the updates otherwise I would have continued to feel just sick!


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