I said that this column would be all about cats, but I should have said it would be about one special cat, a cat who, in spite of a horrible injury, recovered to be a demo cat for animal first aid.
The young stray trusted the stranger, but she shouldn't have. He stabbed her with a hunting knife and then skinned 6 inches of flesh off her back. Somehow, the cat escaped and hid crying under a deck. The homeowners had to destroy half of their deck to reach her and take her to a veterinarian. An elderly neighbor named Edwina donated $500 toward the cat's care, saying, "My house is paid for, and I don't need to eat so much."
Dusty Rainbolt, who fosters many needy cats, named the injured feline Edwina after the neighbor who had donated $500. Dusty has fostered many cats, and continues to do so, but this little cat really captured her heart. In spite of her horrendous injuries, the cat was happy to cuddle and had a non-stop purr.
Zeki models a soft cone in first aid class.
Author, editor and animal behavior consultant Arden Moore heard the story and adopted the cat, sight unseen. She then renamed the cat, choosing a Turkish name because the cat has markings similar to those of a Turkish Van. The name Arden chose was Zeki, which means courageous and curious.
Zeki recovered fully and has a lovely, thick, soft coat of fur where her injuries were. And, if she remembers the horrors of the knifing, she doesn't let it bother her. She accepts everyone with calm and poise, and has become Arden's "Ambassa-cat," helping her with her work.
Arden is an instructor with Pet Tech (pettech.net), a pet first aid program. With Zeki, and her dog Chipper, Arden teaches classes in pet first aid. While some other instructors also use their dogs in class, Arden is the only one with a cat who is willing to be a "guinea pig." Zeki lets students wrap her in a towel, check her pulse, and put on a safety muzzle, asking only for the occasional nibble of low-sodium deli turkey. She is unfazed by strange locations and unknown people.
At the Cat Writers' conference, she was happy to relax on the carpet while most of us crowed around to stroke her and get our "fur fix." She willingly sat up for some of her favorite turkey. With all the attention, and with everyone wanting to hold her or take her picture, she remained calm and happy. She never looked stressed or like she wanted to escape. She did much better than either of my corgis would have.
Zeki is indeed a courageous cat, and much of that is her own personality, but I think Dusty's untiring nursing, and Arden's remarkable rapport with animals and her ability to bring out the best in that animal helped her immensely. Dusty and Arden are equally as courageous as Zeki, and the animal world is lucky to have them both.
It wouldn't be a cat writers' conference without a huge bag of goodies. I couldn't bring them all home, but I did manage most of the edible treats. I brightened up mealtime for the corgis with a dried tuna flake treat from City Kitty. This treat reminded me of onion skin. That's how dry and flaky it was. I sprinkled it on the dog food, but I think it would make an excellent treat to use in training your cat. It's got a strong tuna smell that should appeal to the most finicky of cats, but it's not greasy or hard to handle. I also made room in my suitcase for the Pledge pet hair sweeper. These gadgets are terrific, and now, they are reusable. Just snap the lid off, empty the fur, and you're ready to go again.
I brought home a cat toy as well. It's a Turbo Scratcher, and has a cardboard scratching pad in the center, and a ball that whizzes around in a track. It's definitely for cats, not dogs, but I wanted to see what the dogs would do.
Gail didn't like the noise and ignored it. Rhiannon concentrated and watched the ball zip around, and finally pounced and pulled the ball from the track. We played with her awhile, but the ball is too small; she could easily choke on it, so the toy will go to a home with cats. They should love it.