Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Crunchy Boy

Well we have had a big adventure these last three days. Not an external adventure, not overland, but an adventure of the heart, a feline adventure of the spirit.

This wonderful creature you see pictured here, the wonderful Mysterious Crunch as he is called, has been the main protagonist of this tale. A little background on him might set the scene nicely. Crunchy is called Crunchy because about a month after Indi was born, in the middle of the night, Mat and I would hear a definite crunching coming from the kitchen area where Dr Chops' food is kept. This was an unusual sound, since Dr Chops swallows his dry food whole. Another way we could tell that it wasn't Dr Chops is coz we could see Dr Chops sleeping at the foot of our bed. A couple of times I caught this new renegade out, and saw a white-ish cat from behind as he scooted out the back door at the sound of my footsteps (we keep the back door bolted a little ajar, to let Dr Chops satisfy his urge to romp about at night). So this continued for a while. Once to my utter surprise, I found Dr Chops and Crunchy (then unnamed) asleep together on the couch on our front porch when I got home! Crunchy ran away as soon as he saw me, still very shy. Then one day Mat found Crunchy asleep in his studio, the room right next to the back door, on the couch. I was secretly thrilled! I employed my very best cat etiquette and slowly, ever so slowly, inched my way inside the door to the studio. I made sure not to make direct eye contact, used lots of slow blinks and projected my energy just right, and soon enough I was patting my new white and tan friend, who was purring loudly! So friendly! Almost too friendly! Before I knew it he was climbing on to my lap, trying to almost suck the pats out of me... it was like he was starving for some love, poor poppet! What a sweetie. From that day on he has been living with us, sharing mealtimes with Dr Chops and winning us over with his big heart. He lets Indi pat him with her over-eager fat little hands, as she grasps and pulls at his fur, squealing with joy, and he just sits there, as though he understands that this is what kids are like. He seems to really love her actually.

So that's Crunchy. Eats like a horse. Big heart. Lovely person.

Three nights ago as Crunchy got off his usual couch right by the heater, where he sprawls for hours at a time, I noticed he was limping horribly, and basically couldn't put any weight on his left back leg. Upon closer examination I could see his toe was very swollen and misshapen. He was lurching around in a really upsetting way, and obviously distressed. He also wasn't eating, which for Crunchy is a BIG DEAL. He usually eats as much as I am prepared to put down in front of him. He has developed a lovely little paunch in the five months or so that he has been with us. So anyway, we decided to keep him inside til I could take him to the vet, despite Crunchy really really wanting to go outside. Unfortunately Mat accidently let him out while he was letting Dr Chops in, which he felt really bad about when our friend told him that cats usually gang up on weak sick cats, and that Crunchy would be in real danger out there. Poor Crunchy!!

I walked the streets calling his name, twice that night, but nothing. I kept getting up in the middle of the night to check, but no Crunchy. I actually felt ill I was so worried for him, and felt guilty that I hadn't bundled him up right away to the vets, that I could have prevented this. (In reality I was juggling a baby, a cat, visitors, a grumpy reluctant husband and a billion other things.) It wasn't very abnormal for him to be out all night, or even til late morning. It was when the sun was setting the next day and no sign of Crunchy that I really began to worry.

But it was weird. By the end of the day both Mat and I had this odd inner sense, a deep intuition, that things were OK. That things were as they should be. That if he had died fighting in the night, that Crunchy had died as he had lived, a free spirit, true to his inner nature, fighting til the end. He's a tough cat, and it was a fitting departure. It was weird for two people who love their animals truly and deeply to be acting so calm about the disappearance of one so dear and cherished. But we were.

By the second night, we had pretty much accepted his death as being certain. It had been a cold and rainy two days, the coldest of the winter yet, and there was no way he would have stayed out knowing there was a warm place with food for him to come, especially when he was in pain. So I went to bed with Indi, feeding her to sleep as per usual. After a few minutes Mat pokes his head in the door and whispers to me "Guess who just walked in the door?" and my eyes almost fell out of my head they opened so wide! I grinned, and poor Indi lay there blinking as I whisked my breast out of her mouth and ran to the kitchen, where dear little Crunchy was scoffing down as much food as he could. He glanced up at me, blinked me a smile, then kept eating hungrily. I almost cried with relief! I got him some more food and then crouched next to him, repeating his name with love and relief, over and over, and when he was done (the picture above was taken just after he finished eating) I picked him up and carried him to a spot right in front of our heater, on a soft futon. He purred for a while as I patted him with love, and fell right asleep, no washing of his face or anything. I was so amazed. It was like looking at a ghost. I had been sure he was dead! He slept in that spot til morning, when we took him to the lovely kind vet, who washed his sore abscessed foot, gave him a painkiller and some antibiotics.

He's still recovering, still sleeping a lot, and his foot still looks pretty bad, but he's back, with us, in a warm place where he is loved and cared for.


cramstankin said...

aaaawwwwww loverly story nalin. i thought there for a moment mid story that he in fact was gone, but yeah, he came home!!!!!! what a very lucky crunchy boy indeed :)

Nalin said...

Yeah we are all so happy to have him back! Although he's still a bit of a wild wanderer.