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“Nova’s Tribulations: The Eye Wound”

It had been a cold winter.  We were lounging in the upper deck of the ‘upper greenhouse’, as we call it.  We were having a spot of sunshine and it’s always warmest at the top of the greenhouse. My cats Nochi, Nova, and Mario were lounging with me.

Without warrant, as he was prone to doing, Mario looked sideways at his sister Nova and began terrorizing her in classic cat fashion. They had a momentary brawl and both cats bolted away.

I didn’t think anything of the spat. Mario has always been mean to poor little Nova. The next afternoon I was opening a drawer in the greenhouse and jumped back in surprise- there was a big grey animal in the drawer! I quickly realized it was Nova. I teased her and greeted her but she didn’t respond. She was curled up tightly in a ball. Very unusual. So I pried her up and out of the drawer, only to find myself in a mild panic at the sight of her left eye; it was a giant mat of blood!

I rushed Nova inside, nestled her into the covers on the bed, and took stock of what needed to happen. Foremost in a situation like this, the blood needs to be cleaned up. So with many changes of warm, wet towels I washed the caked blood from her face and eye. I had no idea what I would find under her eyelid- was her eye destroyed? How bad was this? In the moment I wasn’t sure what could have possibly happened!

Once the excess blood was out of the way, I made a hot tea of holy basil (antiseptic pain relief) and usnea lichen (antibiotic). I laid with Nova and loved on her while holding the hot, juicy tea compress over her eye, making sure the tea could seep in and around the eye, which was caked shut with blood. I didn’t want to pry it open because I didn’t know the extent of the damage I was dealing with.

Nova was miserable. She slept day after day, only getting up a few times- which signaled me to whisk her outside so she could relieve herself. Twice I let her out to do her thing and she didn’t come back. It was frigid outside and I still didn’t know how bad her condition was. I set about calling her and searching high and low for her. Eventually she reappeared, waiting by the back door for me to let her in. Phew!

About a week passed before the constant daily tea soaks had un-crusted her bloody eye. She was squinting out of the eye ever so gently. Her eye was solid blood red. I was overcome with sadness for her- surely she had lost vision in the eye if it was so full of blood!

My treatment for her remained unchanged. Usnea and basil flushing and compresses to the eye. Around day 10 she was improving greatly.  It had become apparent that when Mario jumped her, he had raked his claws across her eye and actually sliced her eyelid open from the back corner of the eye up towards her ear. It was pretty gross and I was highly displeased with Mario for it. I was still unsure if Nova’s eyesight would recover.

Once the majority of the healing was complete and her pain levels dropped, Nova became restless and I evicted her once again from the house. She stayed close to home and I kept an eye on her. She seemed to be doing quite well.  After a few weeks her eye was open again fully, her eyelid had healed without the slightest hint of infection, swelling, or complication.  Her eye, however, was a deep dark brown color from all the blood, and her pupil was pronouncedly dilated at all times.

It took a few months for the dark coloration in her iris to fully disperse. I tested her eyesight thoroughly (laser pointers do have their practical applications!) and she appeared to have no loss of vision in her left eye. Phew! To this day though, her left pupil is always slightly more dilated than her right. A legacy from Mario that reminds me of him every time I look into Nova’s eyes.

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“Xena the Warrior Princess”

This is the tale of how we met  Xena, the Warrior Princess.

One day I visited a friend’s farm.  As evening approached, it began pouring rain, so I helped her wrap up farm chores by going out to the back of the property to look for chicken and duck eggs.  Mili the Dog was with me, as usual.  I’m rushing through a literal forest of yellow dock taller than I am, pulling back massive basal leaves, looking for secret nests, when I hear the strangest sound.  It was almost a growl.  But then, almost a hiss.  Yet it was also a whining yowl of some kind.  My first thought was “oh no, SKUNK.”

I follow the sound and hear thrashing and rustling ahead in the sopping wet dock forest.  It was now getting dark and visibility was poor.  By the sound of it, Mili was obviously engaged with the enraged mystery creature.  I braced for the smell of skunk but it never hit me.  

After a brief search I find the action scene.  

Mili is sitting in a somewhat strange manner with a giant smile from ear to ear.  She looks at me, laughing, and says “Haha, hey, Jen.  I’m sitting on it.  It can’t do anything cause I’m sitting on it.”

But what?  What are you sitting on?!  
The screaming, yowling, spitting ball of fur starts to pry itself out from under her butt now and again, and Mili giggles, shifts her weight, and keeps it pinned beneath her bum.  I tell Mili to get up, and to my comedic surprise, what I thought to be a baby skunk was an absolutely tiny little kitten.  It couldn’t have been more than weaning age, just a sopping wet little hairball (with teeth and claws).  Mili didn’t want to hurt it, but this feral spitfire was determined to fight her, so she disabled it in the safest way possible and just sat on it.  She was quite proud of herself.

It’s fairly common for folks to drop off unwanted cats and kittens on this farm, for whatever reason.  My friend takes them all in, vets them, and gives them a home.  This cold, wet kitten was either going to succumb to the elements or get snatched by a hawk the next day if I didn’t do something.

Without proper regard for what I was trying to handle, I palm-tackled the very soggy, very angry kitten and scruffed it tightly.  Regardless, the feral little monster managed to swing its head around and fill my thumb full of tooth holes.  So I scruffed it’s butt-end, too, and held it out-stretched and at arm’s length, away from my face. 

What a little fighter!

 I took the warrior-kitten up to the farm house (having forgotten about eggs at this point) and called out for my friend to come open the door for me.  I greeted her, holding the thoroughly scruffed, dripping wet calico kitten as far away from my body as I could keep it, like I had ahold of a rattlesnake or something.  The kitten moaned and yowled and continued to threaten me and Mili.

“This attacked Mili, so she sat on it.  I need a bandage, it chewed my thumb up.” (my presentation was intentional  to add to the humour)
My friend found the situation hysterical (so did I!).  We got the kitten safely contained and patched my hand up.  I suggested the appropriate name ‘Xena’.  My friend tried out a few other names at first, but eventually Xena the Warrior Princess stuck.

She tamed up to be a fabulous, affectionate farm cat!  Xena’s still alive as I write this, happily hunting mice on my friend’s farm.