Peanut butter and ketchup. Dobro and a ruffled lavender bonnet. Kenny G and my ears.
Kittens and The Pit Of Stench.
Now, before I offend every New Yorker reading this blog, let me state a disclaimer: I was born in New York state. I love NY. I root for the Yankees, adore MoMA and the Met and the Cloisters, and will argue the unimpeachable superiority of NY bagels until I’m blue in the face.
But. New York has a certain dubious distinction here at Tabby’s Place. Namely: they like to send us cats with really, really tenacious ringworm.
It’s true. Just when you thought that New York’s most questionable “donation” to New Jersey was the cast of Jersey Shore, there’s this. At first, we all joked about the seeming coincidence. Funny, wasn’t it, that every time we took cats from a New York shelter, they had ringworm? Funny, wasn’t it, that unlike “ordinary,” knock-it-out-in-three-weeks ringworm, this stuff would survive an atomic bomb?
Funny. And by that I mean not “funny-ha-ha,” but “funny-curl-up-in-fetal-position-and-whimper-for-mercy.”
So when Ivan arrived from Brooklyn with a whopping case of the fungus, we weren’t joking around any more.
It was bad enough that the little guy with the perfect nose-dot had been born on the streets in the wintriest winter in the entire history of time years. It was worse that he’d sustained a nasty injury from some nasty beasts. (Supposedly said beasts were cats…but I’m thinking wolverines. Or roller derby teams.)
It was beyond the pale, though, that Ivan had to spend his young-kittenhood in ringworm quarantine, enduring dips in curative but stinky lime sulfur solution.
Three weeks would have been more than enough. Every week of kittenhood is a leap into the future – so much to explore! chew! sniff! love! leap on!
But how about three months??!
Yes, baby Ivan had New York-grade ringworm, and it wasn’t going anywhere.
At last, just before we were ready to call in Benny Hinn and Dr. Oz and Dr. Spock and everyone in between, the lime-sulfur tide started to turn. Or, to be more precise, Ivan’s ringworm cultures stopped turning. These tests, called fungal cultures, involve gently sampling a cat’s fur with a toothbrush, then putting the hairs in a little dish of solution and waiting to see whether or not they turn red. That’s red as in “go to Ringworm Quarantine, go directly to Ringworm Quarantine, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.”
Ivan’s cultures had been red so long we thought maybe he was from Mars. If we could just get one clear culture, we’d have hope. He’d need three clear cultures in sequence to bust loose from the Pit, but one would be a start.
And so it happened. One…two…three…freedom.
Now, it would be perfectly justifiable for a kitten who’d spent his life alternating between a cage and the Pit of Stench (after braving the Brooklyn streets and getting thrashed) to be about as sweet as a stereotypical New York cabbie. We could reasonably expect that Ivan would be an angry little tsar, ready to unleash his wrath.
We would reasonably be wrong.
Like the perfect black spot on his pink-button nose, Ivan is utterly adorable. Physically, of course, he’s the cutest thing this side of Webster. But even Ivan’s personality – especially his personality – is adorable, as in impossible-not-to-adore.
Our little love took the trip from the Pit to the Ritz – or at least the Lobby – and he’s having a grand time. Just as surely as that nose-dot says “you are here,” Ivan’s gentle-as-a-folk-singer spirit says “I am loved and I love – I am Ivan.” Even the Lobby’s brawlers, Boots and Gingko, leave our little teenager plenty of room. Maybe they know he’s had more than enough brawls for nine lifetimes already. Ivan is elated to explore, play, and stretch out those legs.
Ah yes…those legs.
That’s where Ivan’s story must be a cliffhanger. During his eon in quarantine, Ivan spent his time either in a cage, getting dipped, or being held and kissed. Since we rarely saw him walk about, he was able to hide the Really Wrong Wrongness going on with his left leg. Once he was sprung into the Lobby, the hiding days were over.
Whatever injured Ivan’s sweet, stripey tail in his Brooklyn babyhood seems to have also given him a very severe case of bilateral luxating patellas. “Luxating” is a fancy word for dislocated. In other words, Ivan has two trick knees.
Many cats live with this condition, happily leaping and lumbering around with no need of surgical intervention. (Dessert kid Strudel is one example.) Ivan, however, has a case that’s a little too terrible. It’s by no means certain yet, but Dr. C thinks surgery is most likely in his future, followed by…sigh…cage rest. Perhaps he’ll hang photos of Donny and Linda around his cage for inspiration from kittens who have been there and beaten that.
I hate that he has to suffer any more, but I’m not worried about Ivan. This little guy is going to be just fine – mark my words. Our love-bug has come through the city, the pit and the pain with his sense of joy fully intact. Very little can discourage someone who knows he’s loved – and, post-Pit, Ivan knows.
Felis Catus fam, I will definitely keep you posted on Ivan. Meantime, thank you for your prayers and smooshes for this wonder-baby.