Tabby’s Place is blessed with a wealth of these death-defiers, and perhaps none is more charming, more adorable, or more downright peculiar than our tiny Esme.
From the moment she arrived, Esme had “Community Cat” written all over her petite, perplexed face.
When you look at Es’ pointy little face, you can’t help but notice that she has perpetually sleepy-looking eyes. Set back unusually far in her head, and veiled with scar tissue, Esme’s golden eyes are the half-open windows to her sweet, mellooooow soul.
Es’ optical issues are “souvenirs” from her early-life woes. As best we can tell, a skull deformity led to chronic upper respiratory infections, which haunt Esme in the form of daily snufflitude. Like Yasmine and Raja, teeny Es sounds like she’s snoring a good bit of the time (including her waking hours). But, between a low-dose steroid and daily “steam treatments” with a vaporizer, we were able to get Esme’s snorkliness under control enough that she could lead a happy (if noisy) life.
With what we thought to be Esme’s biggest problem solved, we happily moved this little love into the lobby, where she almost instantaneously attached herself to her new BFFs. She may seem quiet, but I do believe Esme was the one who rounded up Tony and Yasmine and spearheaded the Loud Breathing Society. Now, they’ve each got their own odd reasons for their rasping (Yasmine is President of the associated Rare Disease Club, with nasopharyngeal stenosis, and Tony is VP, with acromegaly), but when they nap together, it’s a symphony of snores. And, given how bonded these three have become, it’s a symphony we get to enjoy daily.
When Esme first moved out to the lobby, her newfound zest for life Fancy Feast became the stuff of legend. Between constant human affection and the lobby’s all-you-can-eat buffet, Es was in her glory. Our delicate barely-tortie girl almost doubled in weight in record time, and her saggy, baggy belly invited many visitors to ask when her kittens would be due. We were happy to see the old, snuffly sweetheart who had been through so much enjoying life with such relish.
Alas, not every saggy, baggy belly is a happily food-crammed belly. In addition to all that Fancy Feast, something else had been building up in Esme’s insides: fluid.
It was devastating to receive the weekend text message from Jonathan that Esme was in severe congestive heart failure. The emergency vet tapped the excess fluid – all three and a half pounds of it – off Esme’s long-suffering chest, but issued only grim predictions for her longevity.
I did a double-take when I walked into the lobby that Monday and saw a tiny almost-all-black cat with a stripe of orange down her nose, only to realize that this skinny malink was our Esme. Gone was the saggy, baggy belly; gone was the 10-pound plumpette. Little 7-pound Esme looked so fragile now. Reviewing Esme’s test results, a specialist conceded that it was something of a shock that, in her condition, Esme was alive at all, let alone clearly quite content.
And yet, there she was, flourishing and quite evidently comfortable.
And here she is, months later, with no intention of going anywhere.
When we carried this little snuggler out to the Blessing of the Animals in October, I don’t believe any of us would have guessed that Esme would still be here, would still be doing so grandly, in January.
Actually, I take that back. I’ve learned to expect and to pray for the best when it comes to Tabby’s Place cats. Ever the optimist, I’ve had my hope bolstered by the cavalcade of “miracle cats” who annihilate grim predictions in a blaze of life. Where there is life, there is hope, and there’s almost more hope here than the heart can hold.
Almost. But, in the company of cats like Esme, I find my heart growing each day. Here’s to the enigmas whose hope grows our love beyond limits.