More Than A Thousand Dollar Cat Club…

We have a piece of ribbon, a fourteen inch piece of ribbon to be exact, that came out of Magic’s (our black cat) intestine.

We had him X-rayed and were given a diagnosis,

“A blockage in his intestine.”

Tearful memories of Moby, our great white cat with a UTI and kidney stones at the same age (2 years) to whom we’d administered IV’s at home and force fed amidst much growling and hissing, glistened on our eyelashes.

“It’ll just be one thing after another,” Hubs predicted, “sometime in the future we’ll have to draw the line…why not do it now?” …and save a lot of money his brilliantly blue eyes beamed at me.   

He was right of course.  In the end we’d had to put Moby down and the prospect of going through it all again sent a sharp pang through our hearts and wallets.


“We were in a different place then,” I reminded him, “we had four hungry teenagers and higher education cheering on the sidelines…”

I stood aside to let euthanasia crawl its way to the top of the list.

Hubs called the Richardson Animal Shelter where our son, Simon, is a legend, and arranged the grim deed and we watched our lovely cat retreat under the couch and sit, staring out at me with his piercing green eyes every time I crawled over to check on him.

He tolerated strokes and coos, not like Moby who had turned uncharacteristically mean, and I pulled him out several times for a cuddle and a pep talk while massaging his soft tummy.

At 630 on Sunday morning I got up and took one look at my prized cat beneath the sofa, staring out at me with his bright eyes, bemused and helpless, and knew I couldn’t take him to his death.

I scooped him up and we drove to an animal emergency room instead, foregoing mass, to have another X-ray which revealed a long, ‘string-like something’ trapped in his intestine…

After a consultation we agreed to surgery,

“He’s not ill,” I justified, “just unfortunate.”

He had to be re-hydrated (he’d spent the last two days vomiting and refusing food or water) and went under the knife at 230 in the afternoon.

Hubs was sensibly adding up the dollars bills being called into service from our retirement fund,

I was cast adrift with recollections of Magic…

his little meows of acknowledgement whenever I touched him in passing,

his mad dash between my feet to beat me to his food bowl at mealtimes,

his gentle patting with velvety paws on my face in the mornings to wake me up,

the warm snuggle of him pressed against my side at night.

He survived his operation,

“It was a 14″ piece of ribbon,” the vet told me when he called, “I managed to get it out in one piece,” he said, “with no additional cuts,” he clarified.

The following morning we were handed a very poorly cat and the rogue piece of ribbon,


“He’s doing… O…K…” the tech said shaking her head grimly, “he pees in the litter box sometimes and on his blanket…but then…he’s a cat.”

We took him to our vet on 380 in McKinney to be monitored until he was cleared to go home but his temperature was 104° on arrival, too high for a cat; too high for any mammal; too high to be handed off with a flippant comment about peeing.

Later in the afternoon after more anti-biotics he still hadn’t improved so they kept him overnight and we were awoken with distressing news,

“I think he has an infection, we can’t get his temperature to come down, the only thing we can do is go back in and see what’s going on…” I listened in silence, “if we don’t he’ll die,” the vet told me.

“I thought he was supposed to have had an anti-biotic shot that lasted 2 weeks,” I said.

It turned out that none of his records or chart showed that he’d had the shot.

“Let me call the emergency hospital before they close and talk to the techs…” I was stalling while culpability was testing the waters and my cat was dying.

“All right,” he said hesitantly, “I’m going to be at the shelter all day doing surgeries…” he trailed off not wanting to rush me with a difficult decision.

The emergency clinic handed Hubs from one person to another as they tap-danced,

“We don’t want to open up any animal without running tests and diagnostics,” someone said before quoting an astronomical fee.

It looked as though Hubs’ prediction about ending up like Moby was playing out.

We called our vet’s office to tell the staff we’d be in around noon to bid Magic farewell.

When we arrived the office staff told us that the vet was coming back later to perform an emergency operation on a dog and he could open up Magic and see what was going on if we wished?

After stroking Magic and drowning in his trusting eyes I couldn’t find it within myself to send our bewildered, brave, sweet, cat to his death simply because he’d accidentally swallowed a piece of ribbon.

The cost for his second surgery would be a fraction of what we’d already paid and Hubs looked over at me and we mutely nodded our heads in assent.

This story has two happy endings,


Our vet told us there was indeed an infection as he’d suspected…he’d cleaned him out and within hours Magic’s fever was coming down and he was eating.

At our suggestion the two vets talked and agreed the infection was at the original incision site.

The emergency room vet called us and took full responsibility and said he would cover all the costs incurred since leaving his care.


Our vet stitched Magic up from the inside and super-glued his incision so he didn’t have the indignity of wearing a cone.

Within 24 hours we were able to take him home.


Two weeks later, after force feedings for seven or eight days, pain medication, antibiotics and lots of loving we think he’s going to make it, although he is still a little cautious about his sore tummy when jumping up or down from the bed.


I laugh when I see his shaved wrist,

“He looks as though he’s wearing a black mitten and has rolled up his sleeve!”


The other cats, who had shunned him on his return, are slowly letting him back into their clique…

and they are wrestling, gently, again.

It will be a few more weeks before his fur starts to cover the scars and bald patches giving him back the distinction of a fully furred black cat,

in the meantime he can once again look cute posing on the bar,


hiding his bare belly while awaiting his new favorite water fountain to be turned on.

After narrowly escaping death twice I say,

“Welcome Home Madge!”

Hubs and I are now paid up  members of the More Than A Thousand Dollar Cat Club and it’s heartening to know that ethical behavior is alive and well in McKinney.

Thank you Lord.

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