I thought Pearl would die three months ago. My boss first found her outside of a local bar when she was about 3 inches long, with her eyes still sealed shut and walking into rocks. She brought her home and then to work. I saw the furry little, tuft eared, kitty and agreed to foster her until we could find a good home for her. I took her to the vet, Dr. Peterson then, nearly twenty years ago. He said he thought she might be part bobcat, both by her looks and by the way she behaved. She was wild and bit at any hands put on her. Even that young, she knew what she wanted. He said he wouldn’t charge me since I was fostering her. We continued like that for a while, until finally I said he might as well start charging me because I was keeping this little, maybe part bobcat, kitten.
No one else saw her for most of the first 17 years of her life. They knew about her because I told them, and I had photos. But if anyone ever came to the house, she would run and hide. My father watched her for two weeks and never saw her. He only knew she was around because the food kept disappearing. If anyone saw her, the whole neighborhood rejoiced at the claim, “I saw Pearl!”
When she was five, she got very sick and was about to die. I took her to the vet, still Dr. Peterson. He gave her some magic elixir for kitty pneumonia, and she came through it. He was thrilled. He wrote a sweet note to us, about how not everyone could handle this cat. Once my brother saw her. She was hiding under the bedspread, and he was making the bed. When he removed the bedspread, revealing her, they both jumped, never knowing who was most scared: my brother or Pearl.
Her fear of people changed when we started camping in the tent trailer, and later in the little motorhome. There were people around, and she didn’t have a lot of hiding places. Eventually, she sat on the couch and looked when people arrived. Once, while RV living in Bandon, Oregon, she went outside and didn’t return. She had never done that before. We put up signs and the whole RV park was looking for her. It was a safe RV park and summertime. Each night I left the door open a little, inviting her home. She was gone for ten days. Finally, on the tenth night I woke up an saw this little head poke through the door. I had to keep touching her to make sure she was real and not a mirage. The entire RV park celebrated. I was met with great smiles and, “I heard Pearl came back!”
Now, she is nearly nineteen, although I keep thinking of her as nearly twenty. She had a bout where she cried and cried. A vet in Missoula, Montana thought she might have a little kitty dementia and renal failure. She put her on gabapentin and started her on IV fluids. She seemed to do well with that combo. But when we left Missoula and I had to give the IV treatments to her, she was not happy.
She started to fail. She was weak and could barely walk, stopping to rest every few steps. I took her to a vet in Polson, Montana, the same veterinary hospital where we started. By then Dr. Peterson had passed on and we saw a vet I didn’t know, Dr. Deb.
Dr. Deb had a sweet way about her. I said I thought Pearl was at the end of her life. I fully did not expect to bring her home with me that day. I thought she was dying. She couldn’t walk, wouldn’t eat, could barely stay awake, and I could see her fading away. But Dr. Deb had a different idea. She said, “I like these little ones to tell me what they need.” She said, “She’s fighting me. I don’t think she is ready to go.” She took her off the IV fluids and put her on Hydracare, which is something like a kitty ensure. She also gave her a Vitamin B12 shot and sent me home with 3 injections to give to her and three packets of Hydracare. She said, “Let’s take it day by day.”
I was so happy to bring her home with me that day. She loved the Hydracare, and evidently the B12 shots. She started walking, eating, drinking, and staying awake. She even went outside a few times. I had to go back and get more Hydracare and B12 shots for her. And now, nearly three months later, she seems like a regular cat again, living her best ninth life yet!
I first published this over on Medium. You can read it here: