The story of Sparky

A friend of my roommate’s shares a house with her husband out in the middle of a corn field — literally the middle of a cornfield–somewhere on the Illinios side of the Mississippi. They live happily in the small home with two dogs and three cats, and I imagine various other assorted and sundry wild animals.

Three weeks ago, T heard her one of her dogs barking outside and went to investigate. High up at the top of a power pole was a cat that her dog had ‘treed’. They shut the dog up in the house, but didn’t know what to do about the cat.

T got the idea to bring out some food and see if she could lure the cat down. She brought out some cat food and set it down on the ground. Well, evidentally, the cat was very hungry, as it started down immediately, and, to T’s horror, ended up falling from near the top of the pole.

T could only watch helplessly as the cat hit first one power line, with a shower of sparks; then hit the next power line, again with accompanying sparks. It landed, hard, on the ground and lay there, unmoving.

T screamed for her husband, ran into the house and called an emergency vet service. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t come out unless T could guarantee immediate payment–and she and her husband didn’t have the cash to pay for it. She then thought she would take the cat in to her vet herself, and ran back outside, stopping in amazement at the door when she saw her husband walking toward the house, the cat by his side.

They have a shed and T made a bed for the cat in it, putting out some food and water. Next morning, the cat was curious and interested, but T still wouldn’t bring it in the house–concerned about exposing her pets to unknown disease. During the day T then called all the cat folk she knew, asking if any would like a new pet. I and my roommate talked about it, but Zoë’s never been happy with other cats, and our home is too small to give each cat its own space.

That night when T got home, she noticed the cat didn’t seem to be doing well and concerned, took it into the vet. She found out that yes, she was a female, and no, she didn’t seem to be injured as much as she has a respitory infection. Oh, and she’s pregnant.

Armed with antibiotics, T brought the cat home, made her a home in a spare room (one of the dogs does not tolerate strange cats), fed her, gave her attention and a name: Sparky.

Sparky is very good with people but has had a rough time in the corn fields of Illinois. T noticed that she wouldn’t respond to her voice, and found out she had such severe ear mites that she was almost deaf, though they hope with the treatment, she will recover some of her hearing. But the dogs, who have come to accept her as a member of the household, can come right up behind her and the cat doesn’t hear them.

Sparky stays in the house during the day, but T takes her out in the yard for exercise in the evening. The cat has approached the corn field a couple of times, and T was worried it would take off. But Sparky would just look in the shadows among the stalks, rub T’s leg, and follow her quietly, and happily back into the house.

Last week, the tip of Sparky’s tail started losing fur and her tail became infected. Back to the vet where T found out Sparky’s tail had served as the exit point for the electrical current, and was severely damaged. To save her, the vet needed to amputate the tail. Unfortunately, with all the medications, the surgery, and the trauma, the doctor also needed to abort the kittens, or Sparky would not survive.

Today Sparky had surgery, and the vet amputated Sparky’s tail, aborted five kittens, and also found the current entry point — on Sparky’s hip. Fortunately, this should be treatable with antibiotics. Oh, and they spayed her, because no one needs more unwanted kittens.

In spite of being abandoned in a corn field, coming close to starvation, having a respiratory infection, being semi-deafened by ear mites, not to mention shocked by a power line and falling 20 feet to the ground, Sparky, will survive. By now, T has stopped asking if anyone wants her. She’s also decided that Sparky is not a good name. “She doesn’t look like a Sparky,” she told my roommate, when she called tonight, fretting over Sparky’s hospital stay.

I suggested calling her Lucky. T thought I was joking. Knowing T, I know I’m not.

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