I started off that morning by trying to trim Babette’s claws. She needed them trimmed anyway, but since she was going to the vet’s, I wanted to make an especial effort. I managed four before she became too impatient to stand for it, and since I don’t want her to view claws-clipping as the start of the Apocalypse, I trimmed one more claw and then let her run off.
An assistant ushered us into an examination room, and I let Babette onto the examination table so that she could stretch her legs. She was trembling, but curious, and stretched her neck out to examine the countertops, the floor, and the window—probably planning a daring escape. I cuddled her for a moment, then tucked her back inside her carrier in case she could feel safer there just as the assistant returned to take Babette in for her x-ray. The assistant picked up Babette’s crate and carted her off. “She’s kind of feisty,” I called after the assistant.
“Yeah, I’ve been trying to encourage her to be noisy.” The assistant looked a bit startled at this, so I explained, “Now, she’s noisy first and only after sometimes tries to swat or snap. She used not to give a warning first,” I explained, as the assistant left with the tiniest muzzle. This has been one of the challenges of socializing Babette: because her lack of mobility from rickets left her proactive about self-defense (swat first, ask questions later), I’ve been encouraging her to vocalize when she’s overstimulated or unhappy about something, and tried treading a line between respecting and not letting her think she could bully humans by getting noisy.
A few minutes later, Dr. S. came in and popped up an x-ray onto the screen. “She’s looking good. Her bone density’s good. There’s some permanent curve to her bones, but nothing problematic.”
“It’s a possibility, but not likely.”
Here are a couple interesting pictures: one is Babette’s x-ray, and, for comparison, one is x-ray of a cat without rickets. Both show the pelvis and hind legs. If you look at Babette’s femurs—the long bones between her pelvis and knee—you can see that they’re both a bit curved compared to the straight femurs of the other cat. On the lower right of Babette’s x-ray, you can also see that one tarsus (the heavy bone between knee and foot) is bowed.
It’s such a relief to know that the scary state she was in when Operation Paw rescued her isn’t standing in the way of her living a healthy, active life. And I can send her off to that next stage in her life with a light heart.
If you’re looking to adopt a sprightly, enthusiastic cat, one to keep yourself or another cat company, let me recommend Babette! She would be perfect for a person or family who would like to be greeted daily by a tiny, solemn face with perky whiskers, silky black fur, and eyes the color of antique gold. She would make a great companion to anyone who’d like a cat to play tossing and chasing games, and she can also keep herself amused with loose feathers and paper bags. While I wouldn’t recommend her to a family with young kids because her early life experiences haven’t left her tolerant of inexperienced handling, Nico can testify that she would make a young boy cat the best fur friend ever, and I can add that she has stellar midnight-bed-snuggling skills.
If you're interested in adopting Babette, contact Operation PAW: firstname.lastname@example.org