Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Alex and the Cold

After spending most of Monday at the hospital with my mother (who continues to improve), yesterday was a "catch-up" day. I wrote, searched for employment, submitted resumes, worked on my pastoral profile (resume), etc.

Alex was a bit put out with me because of my relatively long absence from home on Monday and (2) his inability to go outside and play on Monday and Tuesday. It wasn't so much that Alex couldn't go outside and play, as that he wouldn't. Perhaps even more intense than his aversion to water is my cat's aversion to cold. Yesterday I would open the door for him and, when he felt the chilly gusts coming in from outside, he would walk away. Even his furry coat of hair didn't protect him from the Artic air mass that has engulfed the U.S. from the plains states to New England.

Perhaps now would be an appropriate time to share the story of the most traumatic (for both Alex and me) event of his kittenhood. I purchased Alex from a pet store on Preston Highway in Louisville, not too far from my mother's home. He was one of four kittens that the store had for sale and, as people who have seen him or photographs of him have noted, Alex has very unique markings. The black coloring on his white coat above his left eye, his black right nostril, and his "ring tailed" tail are not all of them. He also had black ovals on his hind legs, which I have never been able to photograph because Alex is such a ham that he always wants to face my camera. Without a doubt, Alex was the cutest of the four siblings in the store.

The clerk at the pet store sold me all that he said was needed for a happy and well-cared-for kitten: a cat carrier (then much too big for the little fellow, but which he has since out grown), a litter box, cat litter, food and drink bowls, and, most importantly, a large bag of dry kitten food that the clerk said was what Alex had been normally eating.

It was on a Wednesday in January when I purchased the kitten who would become the cat who owns me. After we arrived home, I telephoned the vet who had so well tended my dog, Muffin (another story I've yet to share), and made an appointment to have her look at Alex the following Monday. During the next few days, Alex seemed to adjust well to life in my house. He explored and climbed (just a bit) and was held and cuttled (quite a bit). He developed his since refined habit of climbing up (he now leaps up from the floor) the comforter of my bed and then crawls beneath it to snuggle with me at night.

Each day when I came home from the church I was pastoring, I'd find Alex sitting in the living room awaiting my arrival. It felt great to be welcomed home by the little fellow. It felt great to share my house with another warm blooded creature.

That Sunday I left for the church at 7:00 a.m. to prepare for the morning worship service. When I returned home, Alex wasn't snuggled on the living room couch as he had been the previous days. I wasn't concerned; I thought that he might be in the kitchen, dining. But Alex wasn't in the kitchen. I found him sprawled on the hardwood floor of my library. He couldn't move, he couldn't stand. He looked up at me with frightened eyes as I lifted him into my arms.

I didn't hesitate. Since I knew that my vet was closed on Sundays, I wrapped Alex in a blanket and drove him to a vet I knew had a practice a few blocks from my house. There I found that the only person in the clinic was a woman who came in on Sundays to feed the animals. She told me that the only vet she knew who was open was at a 24-hour-emergency animal clinic in Middletown, Kentucky, about fifteen miles away. I drove there and carried Alex wrapped in his blanket into the clinic.

An assistant took my kitten from me and disappeared through a door. I waited. I waited for what seemed to be a very long time before I was it invited to speak with one of the vetinarians on duty. He told me that Alex was very ill and he did not know if my kitten would live. The vet estimated Alex to be only about four weeks old and much too young to be separated from his mommy. He also told me that Alex should not have been sold, especially by a pet shop, who should have know better. Alex was much too young to eat and digest the dry kitten food that the store clerk had said was his normal diet. He should have still been drinking his mommy's milk.

The vet's diagnosis was that Alex was suffering from hypothermia, caused by the cold January floor and his inability to generate body heat because he couldn't digest the kitten food, anemia, and hypoglycemia. His prognosis was poor. He allowed me to visit my little fellow and what I saw was heart-rending: Alex had two IVs going into him and was just lying there.

Alex remained hospitalized for four days (and $800.00). I visited him each day. On the third day the vet told me that my kitten would "make it" and I was over overjoyed. It was on that day that I was able to hold and cuddle the little fellow again. The next afternoon, when Alex was released from the animal hospital, the vet gave me a whole list of actions to take, including (1) if I was to continue feeding him dry kitten food, I was to moisten it in warm water for a few minutes until the food was soft before giving it to him; (2) when I left the house, I was to place Alex in his cat carrier and place the carrier well above the cold floor; and (3) the vet suggested that I report the pet store to the humane society for selling a kitten too young to be weaned. I did all three and more.

That was three years ago and Alex has matured into the cat who owns me. He still doesn't like the cold and doesn't sleep on the floor unless it is in a nest he has created from a towel, blanket, or my clothing.

As I have previously written, Alex has his own dinning table, well off the floor (and my dining table), but an easy leap for my friend:

I keep a chair for him in the kitchen (the warmest room in this old house) that is situated near the furnace floor vent and where I have also placed a small electric heater to supplement the heat from the furnace:

Of course, when it is as cold as it is at the moment, Alex finds other places above the floor to reside:


  1. How terrifying! I can't imagine seeing my cats on IVs, especially as kittens! (OF course, only Tippy was a kitten, I got Guy fully grown).

    And, y'know, he owns your house and all your posessions, too. He's a sweetheart.

  2. What a great story, I'm so glad that Alex made it, he's such a nice cat now. Pet stores aren't really the best places to buy animals in general...our dogs have always been adopted or bought strait from a respectiable breeder as we just don't trust the health of an animal from a pet shop.

  3. I love the pics, as usual. Alex has his needs. I know Axl gets all pissy and his color even changes (He is a siamese and gets darker when upset... I kid you not).

    I am glad your mum is feeling better.

    Looking for a job is a job in itself. One should get paid for it.


  4. Poor Alex! To be so sick when he was so little! No wonder he loves you so much and you love him.

  5. So glad to hear your mum is on the mend....... my thoughts are with you all.....

    Im a cat lover also...... goodness the tales I have lol


  6. I am so happy that Alex recovered OK. He is a wonderful kitty.

  7. What a heart-wrenching story Nick. I am so glad Alex survived. No wonder he hates the cold so much.

  8. He's such a pretty cat... he should have been a girl!
    Shhhh, don't tell him I said that!

  9. Alex is blessed to have you. I think it is sad that a pet store would do that. I don't blame him for not liking cold weather.

    I hope your mom gets out of the hospital tomorrow. My dad got out today. Your mother remains in my prayers.

  10. hey nick glad to hear your mother is doing better alex looks cute as allways

  11. It must've freaked you out and broken your heart when you saw him on the floor like that. That's so great that you could find a vet on a Sunday. Not sure that exists around here.

    I hope that guy with the pet store got in big trouble for selling the little guys so young. And for feeding them dry kitten food. No wonder he likes heat and moist food now. Males tend to have health problems with the dry food, too.

    I'm also happy to hear that your mom is doing so much better!

  12. A very interesting animal and very unusual markings, especially the ring-tail part. ec

  13. I can't let my cat read this post. He will demand his own dinner table.

  14. I had not realized that Alex (and you) had had such trauma.

    Good news about you mom!

  15. Oh wow, you are indeed very lucky to still have Alex with you!! He's such a beautiful cat and to look at him, you'd never think he'd gone through all that as a certainly have taken good care of him since:-) Love all the pictures!!

  16. I know what it's like to have a cat at the vet with IVs in his arm and not knowing whether they would survive. It happened to Oscar last August.

    I'm glad you reported that pet shop. My daughter did the same thing. She "rescued" a kitten who was too young to be away from it's mother and reported the store. The kitten grew into a beautiful loving cat.

    And Alex looks just beautiful and healthy, now. Lucky cat to have found you to look after him.

  17. Alex's story was really scary..thank god he made it ok...he really looks adorable :)...good luck on the job front and hope ur mother keeps making progress..

  18. I'm not much of a cat person, but Alex is absolutely beautiful! I'm glad things are going well with the kitty.

    I'm also happy that your mom is doing okay.

    God bless!

  19. He looks so happy. I especially like the photo with him next to the stereo.

    Maybe he needs some toys to alleviate the boredom?

    What happened to the pet shop? I hope they had their ass closed down!!!

  20. Poor little Alex! He is so lucky to have a human like you to take care of him.

  21. So scary! I am so glad little Alex survived.