Almost six weeks from the day Sneakers got out, we got a call from Bud again. It was a Sunday morning and they had seen a black and white cat around their house as they were leaving for church. Mema and Pepaw gathered up some supplies: a bowl of food and a towel and a net to catch him with. The good news was that they did find Sneakers lying near the neighbor’s house. However, he was so weak from malnutrition that he could not walk! But he was still alive. They wrapped him up in the towel and scooted back to the house.
“He is so light!” Pepaw exclaimed. Sneakers had become a large cat weighing about twelve pounds. “It’s like picking up air,” he added with concern. Sneak had not fared well out in the open.
They took him to the garage and unwrapped the towel. Poor Sneak! He tried to walk, but was so weak he just flopped down unable to move. It broke their hearts to see him so obviously sick.
Mema immediately called the vet, but because it was a Sunday, they were not open. Their voice message gave the phone number for an Emergency Vet in Winston-Salem. They had no choice but to take him there. After this long a time, it was possible he wouldn’t last until the next day. They bundled Sneakers up and drove to the vet. Sneakers was meowing mournfully the whole time. He was obviously in distress.
The vet took Sneakers back for an exam while Mema and Pepaw waited anxiously.
“He is very sick, but to really determine what’s wrong, we’ll need to take some tests. It’ll cost about $400.00,” the vet informed them. They gave permission and waited.
The news about Sneakers was bad, but the vet felt that with care and medicine, he could make a recovery. The worst thing was that he was so malnourished and dehydrated. They weighed him and the poor kitty was only seven and ½ lbs. He had lost almost half his weight during his ordeal.
“We would like to keep Sneakers overnight because he needs to have an IV to try to keep him alive. You can pick him up tomorrow,” the vet told them.
Mema and Pepaw were relieved and yet saddened. They could only hope that Sneakers would pull through.
The next day, Monday, they picked up Sneakers, but had arranged for their own vet to take over his care so they took him there. It was extremely hard for them to leave him again, but he needed a lot of special care from professionals.
“You can come by and visit Sneakers, but we will need to keep him a few days to be sure he is stable and on the road back to health,” the nurses at the vet told them. It felt so strange to visit with their pet for a short time every day, but with each passing day, they could see progress in his condition. He began to eat a little and poop like he should.
Thursday was Thanksgiving Day and they were going to be able to take Sneakers home the Friday just after.
“He’s going to need to be contained in a safe place for a while as his condition is still delicate,” Mema said to Pepaw. They went to Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving Day, thankful that the store was open and purchased a baby play pen that would be perfect to keep Sneakers safe and contained.
On Friday, Mema and Pepaw paid the vet $200 for caring for Sneakers for four days. They dubbed him their “Six Hundred Dollar Cat” and laughed about that. Sneakers came home and was placed in the play pen. They had medicines that they had to give him which was quite a chore. They had to get a syringe full of the liquid and squirt it in his mouth. Try to imagine this. Sneakers didn’t like it and would squirm and turn his head to avoid it. It took the both of them to administer the medicine. When Pepaw had to go on a trip, Mema did the best she could alone, trying to hold him down and squirt the medicine in his reluctant mouth. Often there was more of the liquid on the floor than in Sneakers!
Sawdust had a strange reaction to her brother being back. She wasn’t too happy about it. She approached the play pen cautiously and when she sniffed Sneakers, she gave out a hiss. Then she walked away. Mema thought that maybe she smelled all the strange odors he must have picked up from his time in the woods. Either that or she preferred to be the only cat in the house. It took her a few weeks to finally stop hissing at Sneakers. She eventually adjusted to his return.
Sneakers didn’t much like the food they were told to give him and would barely eat it, so Mema tried tuna fish from a can. He gobbled that up so that is what he got. Before he was lost, he would eat a little at a time all day, but when he got better, he ate everything he could at one time. Being without food for so long had a big impact on him. Day by day, Sneakers gained his weight back until he was his former size. Because Sneakers would eat everything in sight, they had to only put out enough food for each meal. As a result, Sawdust, who had been a little overweight, lost some of her extra pounds which was a good thing.
It was so sad to see Sneakers try to jump up on the furniture like he used to, but he was too weak for a long time and would fall back to the floor. He probably couldn’t understand why and had to be frustrated. Mema picked him up and he would stay on her lap for hours and hours at a time. He needed help getting down too. However, it was gratifying to Mema and Pepaw when the day finally came that Sneakers had recovered enough to once again be able to jump up on things by himself.
So in the end, it all worked out although Mema and Pepaw had to be extra vigilant to be sure that Sneakers would not get out ever again. They were amazed and thankful that he had been able to survive his long ordeal in the big outdoors. It was, indeed, a miracle.