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Cocaine Kitty

Drugs, painkillers, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco are much more harmful to pets than they are to humans.  One extra strength Tylenol can kill a cat within a few hours.  I do not understand the motive behind giving pets drugs; they do not want to get drunk or high.  Apparently, some people do not understand this.

I was doing my morning small animal rounds when a young couple came into the office, claiming that someone had poisoned their cat.  These people were really just kids, maybe 19 or so.  They claimed that their names were Jane and John Doe.  I had to wonder a little about that.          

They were somewhat of an odd looking pair.  Both were wearing multiple earrings.  The girl’s hair was dyed an odd color of red.  It really was closer to purple. She also had an earring through her eyebrow. The couple had matching snake tattoos on their arms.  The young man’s hair was dyed an odd color of yellow.  Not blond like a human hair color, but actually more of a psychedelic or even fluorescent yellow.  I know that all this stuff is the style with kids these days, but I guess that I am a little out of date in my fashion tastes.

            The young man was carrying a box.  The box had a horrible, screaming creature in it.  I thought that maybe it was a wild animal that had bitten one of them.

The man explained, “Our cat is real sick.  We think that our neighbor gave it cocaine.  We know that they use drugs.  Of course we would never do anything that was illegal, being as we are law-abiding citizens.  I’m afraid that our cat will die.  He was OK yesterday, and then we found him like this.  I’m afraid that if we open the box, he will hurt someone or at least himself.”

            Considering the sounds coming from the box, I decided that on this one point this guy was right.  I took the box and put it in a cage.  I then opened the box slightly to allow the cat to get out, and I shut the cage quickly.  

“His name is Satan.” the woman chimed in.  “He’s such a sweet kitty.  I hope that you can help him!”

She was close to tears as she talked.  Her thick black mascara was dripping down on her too white make-up. 

            For a moment, nothing happened.  Then Satan emerged from his box.  At the moment, his name seemed appropriate.  His eyes were opened wide and his pupils were dilated.  He let out an unearthly howl and began to pace in the cage.  He finally seemed to notice that there were humans in the room, and he started to jump at the front of the cage in an effort to kill someone.  His head was tilted abnormally to the side, and he staggered after slashing at the cage with his claws.  He then jumped up and hit the top of the cage, bounced down and hit the back and then all four sides, one after the other.  He was salivating profusely.

            With an acute onset of such a profound neurological illness, only one disease came to mind. Rabies. This really looked like a classic case.

“Has he had his shots?” I asked.

“No,” the man answered. “He always stays indoors.  I’m sure he wouldn’t catch anything indoors.  I think that our neighbor gave him cocaine. He broke into our house just to give our sweet kitty drugs.”

 I made a mental note that it would be difficult for a neighbor to poison an indoor cat, but I said nothing about it.  “Do you ever have any bats?” I asked.

 The woman remembered taking a dead bat away from the cat a week ago.

            I then asked the big question.  “Has he bitten anyone?” 

The woman showed me her arm.  The cat had torn her to pieces.  If this cat tested positive for rabies, she needed shots as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, there is no good way to absolutely be sure that a live cat is free of rabies.  I recommended that we put the cat down and send it to Atlanta immediately.

 The woman started crying.  “I know that it is not rabies.  Somebody mean gave him cocaine. Can’t you just keep him in a cage until tomorrow and then if he is not better, we can do the test?”

            Since this was their cat, there was no way that I could go against their wishes. If there had been a minor child involved, family and children’s services could have been called in.   I called the health department and notified them that I had a suspected rabies case.        

All through the afternoon, Satan continued to scream his insults at us.   He groaned and cried.  If I approached his cage, he would attack the bars as if to kill anyone in his path.  Between fits of rage, he cried as if he were in intense pain. I felt so sad that he was suffering.  I truly believed that there was no hope for this cat.  I left that evening with a heavy heart.  I hate leaving a suffering animal in a cage.  I hoped that this was one time when the old saying, “Where there’s life, there is hope,” would be true, but I really felt like this would be the exception.

            I came into work the next morning dreading to look in the cage room.  When I opened the office door, I could not help notice the silence of the place.  I had little doubt that the poor cat had died during the night.  After a moment’s hesitation, I could not wait any longer.  I had to go look and see what had happened.  

I could not believe my eyes!  In the place of the demon possessed “Satan” cat, there was a nice docile kitty.   He softly cried to me in a friendly tone. I opened a can of cat food and cautiously opened the cage to feed him.  He casually walked over to the bowl and began to eat.    All of the ferocity was gone.  The only sign that the cat had been ill was the condition of the cage.  The newspapers in the cage were shredded.  There was some blood on the walls where he had bloodied his nose as he beat his head against the wall.   I decided to wait for a while before picking up the cat and putting him into a clean cage.  I have heard of rabid animals turning nice for a while and then again becoming vicious.   This little cat, however, did not have a relapse.   He continued to act like a normal cat.

            When I was fairly sure that the cat was OK, I called the clients.   The girl with the purple hair answered the phone.  The relief in her voice was obvious.  “I’m so glad that he did not die.   I never thought that it was a disease.   I always knew that our mean neighbors gave him drugs.  It’s bad living so close to weird neighbors.”

            I suspect that Jane and John Doe may have known a little more than they were telling.  I was really glad that it was not rabies and that "Satan" could get on with his happy if somewhat odd life.