Friday, October 11, 2013

Mala Praxis

This story is true. 

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Some animals, like their human counterparts, are born to trouble.

Patches came to us under difficult circumstances. I was spending the summer overseas working with a team of young people who had come to do youth work in the city. My plan was to return permanently after raising sufficient financial support.

A couple of days before the team left, a group of the teens went down to the common area of the apartment where I was living to spend some time with the local kids. When they returned they brought with them a muddy coloured kitten, small enough to fit in my hand. They had rescued the poor creature from some kids who were tossing it back and forth as though it were a ball.

What was I to do? They were leaving and couldn’t take the kitten with them. No one had any idea where its mother was. Certainly we couldn’t return it to the plaza for the kids to further abuse. I offered to take the kitten if one of my colleagues would look after it until I returned.

A year later, I was back. The kitten, now called Patches because the “mud” colour had eventually developed into a very pretty combination of black, orange, and white, became mine.

Patches was not a friendly cat. Who could blame her considering her start in life. She disliked people, tolerating their presence—barely. She wouldn’t sit on my lap, or purr. She refused to allow anyone to pick her up.

When the time came for her to be spayed, I took her to a nearby vet. After all these years, I can’t remember who recommended this particular doctor but Patch was destined to suffer once more at the hands of a human.

I picked her up at the doctor’s the day after the surgery. The vet sternly told me that I would have to change the cat’s bandage twice a day. The wound had to be washed and sterilized with an antibacterial agent. She handed Patch back to me. The cat’s body was wrapped in a huge white bandage.

When I was a kid we had a family cat—a feral that came and went as she pleased. We never took her to a vet and never had her spayed. Lacking any experience with vets, I had no idea that this one probably got her license to practice out of a cereal box.

Later that first day, I tried to catch Patch. The bandage had to be changed. The cat was not planning on cooperating. To my horror, I realized that the bandage was sticky. It was stuck to Patch’s hair—all the way around her body. There was no way it was going to come off.

I called in a couple of friends. Would they be willing to hold Patch down while I tried to get the bandage off? They agreed. I’m sure they repented of that madness soon after we began what was to be not only traumatic for all concerned, but downright dangerous.

Patch fought tooth and claw. She wiggled like an eel, refusing to allow us to cover her eyes (they say it works for a frightened horse) and there was no way to explain to her how necessary the process was.

The bandage would not come off. It was stuck for life.

Scratched, bitten, and bleeding, we finally concluded that the only thing we could do was to cut it off. That meant cutting Patch’s hair off all the way around her body. She wasn’t going to lay still for that either. How do you tell a cat that lying still is a smart move when a stupid human is using a sharp object to cut Elastoplast® off her body?

Eons seem to pass before the bandage was removed. Patch looked like she had been the loser in a run-in with a lawnmower with a dull blade. If looks really could kill, I’d have been dead ten times over. She wouldn’t come near me for days.

Antibiotics? Another bandage? Not a chance. I tried making a cloth diaper to cover the incision, a dumb idea, which quickly went out the window with the roll of Elastoplast®.

The body healed exactly as the Divine Creator of cats had planned it to do since before the beginning of time—without my “help.” Patch eventually learned to purr and in her last weeks of life, she sought out my lap.

And I never went back to the cereal box vet.

Note: Mala Praxis means malpractice.

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