Sometimes one five-star experience is all you need to become a loyal customer.
So it was with the feline bake shop.
A certain lightly-frosted quartet - Strudel, Trifle, Cupcake and Twinkie - left us with a permanent taste for fresh-baked feline goodness. On Friday, the newest, warmest goodies arrived at Tabby’s Place.
Most just-baked treats arrive in a waxy cardboard box. These little morsels came in unique packaging: a colossal rubber tub. All the better to amplify Baguette’s yellin’ and hollerin’. Just in case we missed the fact that she’s the proud “oddball” of her litter, diva Baguette keeps on singing…er, screaming. (Subjective distinction, really.) Her name may be tres Parisienne, but the fact is that wild little Baguette would fit even better into a more casual moniker: “Funnel Cake,” maybe, or “Cruller.”
Solid-black sister Beignet is the most elegant of the trio. As beautiful as Baguette but a bit more serious, Beignet already has that hint of sophistication that you can just tell is going to bloom into total ladylikeness. Classy Beignet probably has photos of Peachy posted on her wall as inspiration for the sort of high-class lady she’d like to be (well, minus the peeing outside the litter box thing). Yes, Beignet is a paragon of poshness…er, when she’s not throwing her siblings to the ground or parading around with wet food smeared all over her face. Not that these aren’t perfectly ladylike activities.
Baguette and Beignet are tiny, tasty forces of nature. But the bakery baby who has pierced every heart he’s met is the one and only…Bialy.
A certain anonymous Senior Veterinary Technician whose name may or may not rhyme with Zenise said, only half-jokingly, that it would have been perfect to name Bialy “Franklin Stein,” and not just because he arrived on Friday the 13th. Look at Bialy for one tenth of a second, and you can’t miss his most notable physical feature…
BIG. Giant. Head.
We’re not talking “big giant head” in the realm of Luke or S’mores. Bialy’s massive cranium goes beyond cute to concerning. Combined with his downward-facing, out-turned eyes, we immediately worried that this little biscuit might be hydrocephalic (with fluid on the brain). Hydrocephalus can be treated in humans; there are therapies that can help affected cats, too, but the prognosis is…well, not great.
That first night when the bakery babies arrived in their rubber tub, we all ached for Bialy. Stumbling and staggering, he clung to screaming sister Baguette, not seeming to know where he was going. Was he blind, too? My heart rose when I heard that he was actually the heaviest of the siblings, only to fall again when Denise admitted, “it’s probably from the weight in his head.”
But Bialy was a fighting little morsel, and he made it through the weekend just fine. And yesterday, the bravest of the baked goods had a Monday miracle.
The neurologist who saw Bialy first thing in the morning was quite upbeat: this didn’t look like hydrocephalus. In fact, it might be something as benign - life-altering, yes, but utterly survivable - as cerebellar hypoplasia. That would mean the difference between life as a wobbly, bobbly, happy, healthy boy (a la Edward) and a grim prognosis.
Next came a visit with our own vet, the brilliant Dr. Collins. She was on the same page as the neurologist: Bialy seemed more CH-ish than anything else.
It was still unclear at this point whether Bialy had any vision. A final discovery made the day.
“Denise, would you get me a cotton ball?” Dr. C asked. I had the good fortune of getting to witness this, medically-useless though I am. Denise brought a cotton ball, and I assumed Dr. C would use it to examine or clean Bialy. That just shows what I (don’t) know.
Instead, our gifted doctor did something quite high-tech: she flicked the cotton ball at the kitten. Immediately, Bialy’s gaze snapped to that little white blob, and he kicked at it like a furry, big-headed futbol star. Dr. C drew back the cotton puff, slowly dragging it from side to side. Transfixed, Bialy watched its every move.
Watched it with his eyes. (As opposed to…with his pancreas? I don’t know. ;-))
The bakery boy can see.
At the end of the day, we were still not quite sure what’s going on with this little survivor. He’s visual, but his eyes look quite strange. He weebles and wobbles like a CH baby. He does seem a bit clingy with his sisters - both screamer Baguette and sophisticate Beignet. That big, misshapen head is still worrisome.
But if the drama of the cotton ball is any indication, Bialy’s going to be just fine - a weird little dude, maybe, but just fine. And since when was “weird” a liability at Tabby’s Place?