“Yet he was, in his youth
quite the smartest of cats –
But no longer a terror
To mice and to rats.”

-T.S. Eliot

Good Monday all.

Friday, August 26 was the big day. The day I trotted on down to the Humane Society of Toronto at 11 River Street to pick up my new cat, Captain Assmunch III. I never intended to actually call him such, but it made me smile thinking about calling him as an older cat, “Captain ASSMUNCH!” And to have his fat ass come waddling out from behind the couch to sneer at me disapprovingly.
Straight after work on Friday, I headed out to IKEA to pick up some fashionably cheap cat accessories. I had two things in mind: this cat water/food bowl, this cat blanket, this toy and this collar. Unfortunately, IKEA’s pet section is a single stand with very little of what they advertise on their site. The bowl was not there so I settled for two $2.50 bowls. I did get everything else, however. Then I returned home, buying litter and food on the way to my apartment. I set off to go pick up the Captain once everything was set up.
I got to the Humane Society and was immediately struck by the sadness of the place. My heart sank. I began perusing the selection of cats but the Captain appeared to have already been adopted. No matter. There were three cats of interest to me: a white female with some brown spots, a black male and then the black male’s cell mate, who appeared to be a grey male. All were between 2-5 months old.
I came back out, filled in my application and waited for my interview. It was a long wait. I had picked #60 and they were now serving #4 (!). Apparently their sign was broken. Go figure.
A man came out and called my number shortly after. We went into the adoption area to show the cat I wanted to adopt. The white female wasn’t gone, but her papers were, which meant that someone was adopting her already. Then I went to the other cage and the black male had gone. Damn. Looks like the grey one for me. He grabbed the papers and we went to the interview chamber (see: closet). The interview was short and sweet and I was told to go up to the front desk to wait. They brought out the kitten and when they did – I opened up the box and realized the cat was quite a beautiful black and grey tabby, 2 months old. Sweet as could be. Meowing up a storm.
I took a cab home and the cat was quite excited and vocal. I chit chatted with the driver about his life that I didn’t care about. I arrived home.
I brought the new kitten to my apartment and opened his carrying box so he could get out on his own. It took him about 10 minutes to scope out the scene and he finally bounced out. When he did, I noticed that he was a bit skinny, but didn’t really think anything of it. Some kittens are skinny.
He gave the apartment the once over and then found a place to chill on the couch. He got down on his haunches and pulled his front paws under him, wrapping his tail around one side. And he slept. He didn’t eat, he didn’t drink, he just slept. I figured this was fairly normal behavior for an animal that just escaped from what is literally jail. I’d probably be a little tuckered out myself.
The first night I set up food and water and a litter box in my room, along with a nice plush bed for him. He walked into my room behind me, rather slowly, and then gave my room the once over. When he had finished his inspection, he seemed lost, so I picked him up and placed him on his bed. The little guy fell asleep immediately after a little chit chat with me. Then I got into bed myself and fell asleep. He didn’t utter a peep the entire night and then at 5am on Saturday morning, he decided he was getting up. He went directly to his litter box, did the business (still no solids) and then started mewing for me to open my door. I got out of bed, dressed and then let him out. He slowly walked out of my room and to his water in the kitchen. He drank for a long while, but never ate.
I grew concerned because a kitten should be eating 5-6 times a day. They’re growing animals. They should also be VERY active. He wasn’t, however. He finished drinking and went to the second litter box. He scratched around a bit and then exited. When he got near his food bowl, he started coughing. He then vomited and nothing but water came up. I thought this was very odd, but everything I read stated this was most likely stress related, coming to a new environment, etc., etc., etc. He also wasn’t eating any of his food. I figured he just hated what I’d bought, so I got a different brand. I had hard, soft, wet, dry, shredded, chunks, blended…everything. Nothing was to his liking.
As the day wore on, he still hadn’t eaten and the only movement he made was to drink, to go to the litter box or to find a new place to sleep. I grew very worried. I phoned the Humane Society and the very helpful woman on the other end dismissed it as stress, nothing more and that the cat wouldn’t starve – it would eat in its own good time. The reason, according to her, that he was sleeping was because he hadn’t eaten. So, in other words, once he had become acclimated to my apartment and to me, he would eat, his energy would return and he’d be as right as rain. Fine. My stress was relieved and I decided to let the little tyke sleep and go out for drinks so he could be alone in the apartment.
Ian came over and gave me a nice cat book with information on their care and upkeep. Was very sweet. He also fell in love with the little guy, who I had by this point named “Orko.” You remember Orko, don’t you? Ian had come up with the same theory, based on the Humane Society’s thoughts, that it was probably just stress. So I left out food and Ian and I went for drinks. We had a rip roaring time. Then I came home a few hours later to find the cat had not eaten anything. Not the soft, the hard, the wet, the dry, etc. Nothing was touched. And he was in a different position, but I think only because my roommate was petting him. Orko seemed alright – he seemed to enjoy any position you put him in, on his back, on his stomach, scratching his ear. He purred away and just sat there enjoying the love. I figured I should call the Humane Society on Sunday if he hadn’t eaten anything overnight.
I got up in the morning and lo and behold – still no eating. More than 24 hours without food is not normal for a kitten – stressed or not, and it can be potentially damaging to its health. I phoned up the Humane Society immediately and they informed me that I should bring Orko back to be examined by the veterinarian ASAP.
When you adopt a cat/kitten/dog at the Humane Society, if there are health problems in the first 48 hours, everything is covered by them. Unfortunately, though, you can only bring in your animal to be examined by the vet between 12 and 1pm. Odd, I know.
In any event, I started to get ready to bring Orko back to the THS and I get a text message from the boyfriend who is supposedly in Butt-Fuck-Nowhere, Ontario at some kind of wedding for the weekend. He asked if I was going to be home in a bit because he was going to call me. I said, “No, I’ve got to take Orko back to the THS to be examined.” Then he turned around and said he was at Union Station, come to surprise me and that he was on his way so we could go together. Yay!
So he arrived, pets Orko and I shower. We leave and head to the THS. On the subway, Orko was fine, not making a sound, but then when we got off to make our way upstairs to the streetcar, he went BALLISTIC. Then when we got to street level, he was practically asleep from exhaustion. Three women passing by took an interest and began talking to us. They were sweet. We got on the streetcar and arrived at the THS fairly quickly. We sat down in the waiting room for the vet. After an hour wait, we were finally seen and the vet got this very somber look on her face as soon as I gently pulled Orko out of his carrying box.
“That is one sad looking kitten,” she said as she hissed through her teeth.
She examined him and took his rectal temperature which was heartbreaking – Orko didn’t enjoy it very much.
Then in a blurred 5-10 minutes, she explained to me that she was fairly certain he had contracted Feline Distemper. You can go to the link to read up on it, but in a nutshell, it’s a virus that is very common and all kittens at 8-10 weeks are vaccinated for it. It depletes white bloods cells, as well as eating away the lining of the stomach. The animal will no longer eat, become listless and lethargic. They become extremely dehydrated and their body temperature lowers to dangerous levels at which infections cannot be fought. It can occur at any age for a cat, but in kittens, unfortunately…there is a 90% mortality rate.
She said all this and I didn’t really register it while I was listening, I just kept nodding and saying, “Yes, uh-huh…” while Orko sat and looked more and more saddened in his box.
The vet told me that he would most likely not survive the night but she would do her best to see that he survived, despite the odds. She was going to put him on an IV with antibiotics immediately. They told me they would call during the week with any updates, but that we should all err on the pessimistic side based on the numbers.
She asked me if I had a carrying case, and I said, “Just the box he came in.” And she got me to put him in the box and took him away.

And that was it.

I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

I didn’t really react until we got outside and I got very upset. I was okay on the streetcar, and in the grocery store, but got teary again when I had to go home and clean out his litter box and food bowls.

As of now I have not heard anything – Orko could still be alive, but I don’t know. I hope so.

Above is the only still image I have of him before he returned to the THS, although I do have some webcam videos I took of him the first night, that I may post later.

I’m pulling for ya, Orko.



~ by seangstm on August 29, 2005.

3 Responses to “Orko”

  1. So now I am sitting at work weeping over your story! That poor kitty, poor you, and that stupid THS. I hope everything works out and Orko is okay.

  2. Thanks. I hope so, too.
    I would like to clarify something, though – although the circumstances at the THS made this illness possible, I can’t really blame them.
    The Toronto Humane Society is underfunded and understaffed by volunteers. Not every kitten gets the care it deserves because there is too many to go around to too few volunteers.
    Orko was one that slipped through the cracks, unfortunately.

    As of now, 12:49pm – I’ve not heard anything.

  3. that poor kitty. i hope ‘lil orko makes it through. by the power of grayskull!!

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