Thurston, Amy Calder’s 4-year-old orange and white feline, gave her quite a scare last month. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Oh, what we wouldn’t do for our cats.

Thurston, our 4-year-old orange and white feline, gave us quite a scare May 10.

Though I’ve been hesitant to tell the story lest he not recover well, I’m confident now that all is well.

Thurston is a big, happy cat who loves to go outside and explore the small jungle that abuts our property. It is not a large space, just the neighbor’s backyard, but in it are all sorts of things that fascinate Thurston — birds, chipmunks, lush green plants and squirrels that taunt.

But on May 10 as Phil and our friend, Dave, sat on the deck outside and I worked at my computer inside, I heard a commotion. Phil called me outside.

A German shepherd that lives two houses away, which we often see playing with its owner in a fenced-in area, got loose and bounded into our yard. A frightened Thurston clawed his way up a tree — way up. Some 40 feet.

There he sat, peering down at us, looking petrified. I went back inside to return to work as Phil tried for the next two hours to coax him down. Having no success, he came into the house and I went out.

I looked up. No Thurston in the tree. I scoured the yard, looked under the deck, under the car and behind the fence.

Then I spied his tail emerging from under the settee on the deck. I bent down and there he lay, breathing hard and not moving.

I gently pulled him out and carried him into the house. He didn’t resist. He lay on the floor for a time and then tried to walk, but his right rear leg kept collapsing under him. He cried out.

Fearing he had a broken bone — we had no idea how far he fell out of the tree — I called our veterinarian. It was 3 p.m. and he was swamped, as he has been throughout the pandemic. Normally he makes space to see us in an emergency but there was just no time. He recommended we take Thurston to an emergency veterinary clinic in Lewiston, which we did, after calling to notify them we were coming.

Because of the pandemic, we had to sit in the car outside the clinic and call to let them know we were there. Meanwhile, other people with animal emergencies kept pulling into the parking lot and we wondered if we’d ever get in, but fortunately we were one of the first to arrive so Thurston was seen quickly after a technician came out to the car and ferried Thurston in.

We waited in the car and the vet called to say Thurston had a right tarsal injury — a soft tissue injury around what we would call in humans the ankle. He gave us anti-inflammatory and pain medicine and instructed us to see our vet in two weeks.

Poor Thurston, normally an active cat, slept most of the time for the first few weeks. When he tried to walk, he would hobble and fall. We protected, nurtured, patted and talked to him more than usual and he knew we were trying to help. Even Bitsy, our smaller, 14-year-old gray and black cat who looks like a Maine coon, seemed to understand and stayed right by his side.

After two weeks, we brought him to our own veterinarian who X-rayed and examined him and said such injuries take about eight weeks to heal and in the meantime, he should stay inactive.

We thought Thurston would never get back to normal, but over the last week or so, he has shown great improvement and is walking with barely a limp. We aren’t going to let him out for a few weeks at least to make sure he is 100%, but we are awfully glad he seems his old self again.

It’s amazing how, when our beloved pets become ill or injured, we feel as bad as if they are human. Maybe because they’re so dependent on us, give us unconditional love and do not criticize or judge? I don’t know.

What I do know is that we are grateful for our excellent veterinarian, Paul Smith, and emergency veterinarians who treat injured and sick animals around the clock when we are frantic with worry.

As Phil says, as far as our cats are concerned, we are their whole world.

And they are our family, no two ways about it.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.