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18:30 - Friday, Sept. 09, 2005
the kind of human kindness
The kind of human kindness you never expect to happen to you happened to me today.

My cat, Moon Unit, got bit in the the left haunch by another cat for the second time in her life yesterday. Last time that happened, it was four or five days before we noticed because she had been so reclusive and quiet, and then suddenly she had a raging fever and was wild-eyed and yowling and batting at invisible fever hallucinations. It was 9:00pm, a Tuesday, and I had called in sick at work (because I was sick, not because I had the sudden gift of foresight). I tried to pet the Unit and she lunged at me and screamed. Then we noticed there was fluid pouring from a hidden place under her fur and the whole room was filled suddenly with the smell of rot.

She panicked, wouldn't let us clean her off. We panicked, called our vet, who was (of course) closed. We called the Emergency Pet Rescue and they told us firmly that medical attention could not be delayed until morning, that if we knew what was good for our cat we would bring her in right then. We had no car. Nobody we knew that had a car was home. I ended up asking the complete strangers on the first floor if they had a car I could use, finding it was manual (which I can drive, but barely) and then being in tears lurching around the parking lot trying to re-learn the skill of stick with a Unit screaming from a cardboard box and the old woman next door trying to calm me down enough to ask me what was wrong.

Unit had to stay overnight, was given anesthetics, and had fluid drained from her from a tube. The cost was over 200 dollars, which neither Nick nor I really had at the time. She wore a cone on her head for weeks and had to be fed antibiotics through an eyedropper and have her ass swabbed with a hot washcloth four times a day. It was (as described) totally bitchin'. not.

So yesterday Unit was extremely intent on licking her butt, and as I reached down to pick her up for her 'Unit-inspection' (she has those quite often since the last fiasco) she screamed and growled at me. With both Nick and I holding her down, we discovered white stuff running down her fur from TWO PUNCTURE WOUNDS IN HER ASS.

We put her cone back on and began swabbing her with a hot washcloth, but we were worried that the infection had already spread to her blood. The problem was, absolutely no one would let us have a car, the vet wouldn't prescribe antibiotics without a full examination, and we had even less money than last year for the whole tube-draining and anesthetic thing to be done.

I was describing all this on the phone to my dad today in the parking lot behind the rec center, in hopes that he would have some advice, when this girl I'd never seen before came up and stood in front of me, patiently, but close. I put the phone down.
'Hey, I thought I just overheard you say that your cat is sick and you can't afford treatment for her," she said.
"Yeah?" I said, sort of suspiciously.
She started telling me about the time her cat had to have its eye removed and she was going to have it put to sleep because she couldn't afford the surgery, but then found out about this fund a couple of rich people set up to help poor people pay for their animal care and ended up paying $200 of the $3000 vet bill. "It's through this vet on Moorhead called 'Pet Menders'," she told me.
"Wow, well, thanks," I said. "I'll check it out as soon as I figure out a way to get her there."
"Oh, do you need a ride? I can take you in my Subaru. It's perfect for taking animals to the vet because it's got the whole flat part in back."
I stared at her. "Are you serious?"
"Oh yeah, I just have class until 4, but after that, I can definitely take you," she said.
"I think that's the nicest thing anyone - any stranger, anyway - has ever offered to do for me," I said, and it was, and she got embarrassed, but it didn't matter, because it still was.

She picked me up at my house, drove me to the vet, argued persuasively for my financial aid, talked to Unit in sweet tones on the examining table, and drove me back. When I asked her if there was anything I could do for her - buy her dinner, help her fix her car, anything - she shook her head. She wouldn't take anything.

And Moon Unit got a free exam: her diagnosis:
Take her home and swab her with hot washcloths.


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