Against All Odds
Tigger was an animal shelter kitten. He has always been very special and we call him Tigger with an attitude. Tigger lives with us and four other cats, three dogs, three horses, a pony and a donkey. Our home seemed to be a very safe haven for all our pets. But we found out differently.
Tigger disappeared on a Saturday a couple of springs ago; we called and called but no sign of Tigger. It was Tuesday morning that Tigger made his way home. Luckily my husband was working at home and saw him go under his truck. He took one look at him and grabbed a cat carrier to get him to the vet. He called me at work to let me know Tigger was alive but in bad shape. He said his head was all swollen and messed up. I called ahead to Dr. Vickie Surber at the Live Oak Veterinary Park in Waco, Texas to let them know we had an emergency. When my husband arrived at Dr. Surber's they were waiting and ready. Tigger was in shock so he was put in a cage with oxygen. Dr. Surber said he would need to stay in the oxygen awhile before she could examine him, but she was sure his jaw was broke.
Tigger's jaw was broken and one of his eyes was swollen. Dr. Surber said he would need surgery but needed to wait until he was able to take it. We were not sure if he would make it through the night.
The question was what happened to Tigger. Was he hit by a car, kicked by a horse or hit in the head with something? We really didn't think he was hit by a car because he knew cars and only his head was hurt, not the rest of his body. Also, Tigger knew horses and stayed away from them so we really felt he was hit in the head with something. We put out the word to our neighbors to keep their ears open that we thought someone had hurt our cat. Well, to our horror it was true; our neighbor came over about a week later and apologized. He overheard his kids talking and one of their friends had hit Tigger in the head with a baseball bat on purpose. The child did not live in the state. He was here visiting. We never did get his name or speak with him or his parents; our neighbor did that for us. We pray that his parents will spend the money to get him the help he needs.
Tigger did make it through the night and was resting a little easier. Dr. Surber said she would do the surgery the next day if he continued to do ok. Dr. Surber did the surgery the next day. To her surprise when she went in to his mouth to repair the broken jaw she found that the upper part of his mouth was split wide open all the way back. Tigger's 30-minute surgery turned into 4 hours. His whole head had been shifted. How he survived the blow to his head we will never know. I guess he still had his 9 lives. Dr. Surber said he now has used them all up. Tigger was a fighter; he had the will to live. He worked so hard at living that we also had to work at keeping him alive.
Tigger lived with Dr. Surber for the next six weeks. I tried to visit him everyday. He was not able to eat on his own. His mouth would not close all the way, some kind of nerve damage. Dr. Surber researched the problem and found that the problem should clear up in about 3 weeks and his mouth would close. It was a long 3 weeks watching his mouth to see if it would move. Dr. Surber tube fed Tigger to keep him alive. She said a lot of cats would not have taken it like Tigger did. He really had the will to live. All we could do is hope and pray that Tigger would be able to eat on his own when the wires came out. The top wire came out first and we took Tigger home for a tryout. Well it did not go well. We were in the process of building a new home and were living in one small room. We had no place to really keep Tigger safely. He also would not eat for us. We had to take him back to Dr. Surber. Just in the few days with us he lost weight and had to be tube fed again. He stayed with Dr. Surber until his bottom wire came out. He did start eating can food that had been blended to mush. He sure did miss eating dry food. It had been his favorite. I really wondered at times if we had done the right thing to keep him alive. He scratched sores on both sides of his head because of the nerve damage. He also lost the sight in one eye and his eyes no longer produce tears. But then I reminded myself how determined he was to live.
Well, it's been two years now since Tigger was hit in the head. We are so glad that Dr. Surber saved his life and that he had such a will to live. Tigger now can eat dry food by licking and swallowing it whole. I put eye drops in his eyes and gel in his eyes three times a day. We give him Predisone every other day to cut back on the scratching of his head, and we put Soft Paws nail caps over his back claws so his head is no longer raw sores. He still climbs trees and chases the other cats. He acts as though nothing ever happened to him. Why he survived the violent act of a person we do not know. We are so thankful that he had the will to live and we are repaid every day with the love Tigger gives us no matter what. We pray that the person that did this to Tigger never hurts another animal and that he learns to love and care for others the way Tigger loves no matter what has happened to him.
I would like to dedicate this story to Dr. Vickie Surber for all the time, care and love she gave Tigger.