Tiger’s Trauma

Elwyn’s cat, Tiger, was savagely attacked by an aggressive dog, something like a huge pit bull, as she snoozed in our front yard enjoying the last of the daylight. It was early in December 2004, and I was working in our home office at the front of our house, keeping one ear out for Tiger because she is nearly blind. Suddenly I heard screaming. Now our yard is surrounded by a high brick wall, so people don’t normally come in unless they are visiting us. So I assumed that the noise was coming from the street. I was wrong. The sight that greeted me when I raced out to see if I could help was shocking. There was Tiger, on her back on the front path among the trees. A huge dog held her abdomen in its jaws and was trying to kill her! The screaming was coming from a lady who I had never seen before, who was trying to get Tiger out of the dog’s mouth, and from a man who I had never seen before, who was trying to pull the dog away – bit difficult as it wasn’t even on a lead.

Well, I went straight into the protective mother mode, and roared at the man to “Get that dog out of our yard!” He started to beat the dog then, and eventually forced it to let go Tiger. Tiger scurried into a corner and sat there in shock. The lady’s arm was a mess of cat scratches, with one deep wound right up her fore-arm. The path was covered in blood. I looked out the front gate to see where the dog was. The man had it on a lead by then, and told me that the dog wouldn’t come into the yard again.

Although I could see that the lady needed medical attention urgently, I knew that I had to get Tiger to the vet immediately. I suggested to her that she get to hospital, then raced into the house to grab the cat cage and then ventured to see how Tiger was. She was in shock, but did not seem to be bleeding as much as I expected. I picked her up as gently as I could and placed her into the cage. Once that was shut tight, I knew she was safe and could find our other cat. I glanced around the front yard to see where Mittens had got to. A small “Meow” from up one of the trees told me where to look. She was clinging to the bark of a she-oak, about 5 metres off the ground. As she is not blind, she must have seen that monster run into the yard in time to get away, unlike poor Tiger. She was shaking. Now that the dop had gone, she looked down at the fall below her and froze. What was I to do? I HAD to get Tiger to the vet as soon as possible, but I couldn’t leave Mittens there – she might fall in her frightened state. I ran over to the base of the tree and reached up my arms to her, calling “Mittens” in as gentle a voice as I could muster. She looked down at me. I called her again. Thank heavens she began to shuffle down the tree, then fell. But I was ready and caught her. I gave her a quick pat, put her inside, grabbed the car keys and shut the front door. Tiger was still in the cat cage, eyes wide and not really there. I put her in the car and drove to the vet’s, trying to keep to the speed limit.

As I drove I put my mobile on hands-free and called the vet to tell them to be ready. The nurse started to tell me that I did not have an appointment and couldn’t come. I screamed then that this was an EMERGENCY. When I arrived at the vet’s, the nurse gently took Tiger and I into the surgery so that we wouldn’t upset everyone else in the waiting room. I was in tears of worry by then. Greg, the vet, came in and did a quick examination of Tiger as I told him what had happened. “It’s a miracle she’s alive. I think her round tummy saved her, you know.” Funny how things work out – we’ve been trying to diet her for years! He swabbed her wounds clean, gave her various injections and said “We won’t operate unti, tomorrow. Do you want to take her home tonight?” Of course I did! Although she still wasn’t responding to anything, I knew that taking her home and giving her lots of love was the best thing for now. As Greg carefully put her back in her cage, Rob called on my mobile. He had just got home and found the front path covered with blood and naturally was very worried. I told him what had happened.

I had Tiger home again very quickly, and Rob and I set up her rug in our family room, and called Elwyn to tell her what had happened. She came home a little later.

It was a long night.

Tiger survived the night, and I took her to the vet’s the next morning for the first of many, many visits. She spent the day there, being checked out, operated on and prepared for her long convalescence. She came home that night, and seemed a little more alert. It wasn’t until the next day that she began to have trouble.

Her entire abdomen was wounded and deeply bruised. She was in agony, especially as it began to swell and necrose. By the time Elwyn left for her month’s holiday three days later, Tiger had retreated to Elwyn’s room and wasn’t moving much. None of us spoke the words, but we weren’t at all sure that Tiger would be with us when Elwyn came back. Elwyn gave her a big hug before she left for the airport and tried to hold back her tears. We began the long stint of nursing Tiger back to health.

Rob made one of his perceptive comments that her attack was the equivalent of a person being mauled by a lion!

She needed hourly pats from all of us to keep her connected with the world, and each morning I would creep into Elwyn’s room expecting to find her dead. She couldn’t move and wouldn’t eat. We had to lift her head to get her to drink sips of water. Two days after Elwyn left she was almost gone. I had to accept that she had the right to choose to leave us. That night, I spent some time with her, telling her how much we all loved her, but that we respected her right to leave if she wished. I remembered when she had found us in Kings Park 14 years ago. As Rob and I had walked past some bush, a kitten emerged and followed us, meowing. I couldn’t leave it there, and bundled it up in my skirt to take home safely across the busy roads. She went straight to Elwyn’s lap. When our vet examined her, he said that she had just had kittens – she was still a kitten herself! We never found her kittens. She spent some months at the vet’s surviving a uterine infection and cat flu before she came to live with us.

Now we might lose her.

I gave her one last hug and bade her farewell. I didn’t sleep much that night, and my pillow was wet. Next morning, I dreaded going into Elwyn’s room. I peeked in. She was still with us, and raised her head just a bit from her rug! I raced over to hug her, and she actually looked at me. Some time during that long night, she had decided to stay. Thank heavens.

I was happy to take her for her daily checkups at the vet’s, as she slowly began to move. Her abdomen was unsightly as the skin died and sloughed off, and the dead tissue underneath oozed fluid all over the floor. I was glad to clean up after her as she began to move out of Elwyn’s room occasionally, and we carried her bowls of food and water around after her to tempt her to eat and drink. Rob helped when he was home, and was glad to pay the vet bills.

When Elwyn came home, a month later, she greeted her little furry friend – who had been a faithful friend to her for half her life – with a huge hug. And the vet said that it’s a miracle.

The only difference in her now is that she’s glad to be alive; she no longer suffers the stress that used to make her sick in the tummy. She purrs a lot. She’s a house cat now. She took a long time to venture out into the yard where she had been so savagely mauled, and only goes there when one of us is around.

Our lovely Tiger has survived:-)

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