Tommy has always been a warrior. OK, perhaps not when she was a young kitten, but as soon as she reached adulthood, she had to fight for her life and for the lives of her sister and their respective young kittens. Tragically, Tommy’s sister did not survive, and Tommy was left to raise both litters while recovering from her own injuries. Read more about Tommy’s early history and that fateful night here.
After the kittens were weaned, circumstances necessitated that I rehome Tommy with a friend, where she spent the next 14 years trying to eat all of the other cats out of house and home, and where she assumed a commanding position as Alpha Cat. I saw Tommy occasionally over those 14 years, and she was always at the top of her game as a dominant force in my friend’s home.
Then things changed for Tommy in 2009. I visited my friend just before Easter and was shocked to find Tommy in a state of very poor health. She was, of course, an old cat by that time, so chronic illness was not entirely unexpected. Still, I had not seen the Warrior in quite a while, and the very skinny appearance of a cat who had spent almost her entire adult life morbidly obese was startling and upsetting. When I rehomed Tommy with my friend all those years earlier, I promised to take her back at any time if the need arose. Here was the need. After speaking with my friend, we agreed that Tommy should return to Shadowood with me, where I would have time to provide the ongoing nursing that she would require.
And so, Tommy came home to Shadowood on Easter morning, 2009. I suspected that she was hyperthyroid, a diagnosis that was confirmed three days later. She was also a pound underweight. It took a little over two months to gradually and successfully achieve euthyroid (normal thyroid levels) with medication. Stabilizing her at her optimal weight of nine pounds was a much more elusive goal. As her thyroid levels normalized, her weight shot up. Then I had to take the extra weight off of her, at which point she decided she really wasn’t all that hungry any more and dropped too much weight. She never has managed to maintain that sweet spot of nine pounds for long.
Dealing with Tommy’s health issues was my primary focus when I brought her home, but I was equally fascinated to see how she and The Babies would react to each other when reunited after 14 years. Would she remember her daughters and surviving nephew? Would they remember her? Would there be a happy family reunion, or would they try to kill each other? I had no clue what to expect.
True to her cantankerous and intolerant nature, Tommy wanted absolutely nothing to do with her daughters or nephew. They, in turn, avoided her like the plague and consistently hissed or growled in passing. It was not the reunion for which I had hoped. Still, they coexisted without bloodshed.
Interestingly, 2009 was also the year in which I rescued the GoBoys as approximately five-week-old kittens. To my surprise, Tommy demonstrated a tolerance and acceptance of the GoBoys that she would not afford her own offspring.
Over the last several years, Tommy’s identity as the Cranky Queen Loner has started to soften. She now allows other cats to snuggle against her as long as she can pretend that she’s sleeping while they do so. Footsie and Bobble, however, pushed their luck a bit too far when they recently decided to sleep on her. To my great surprise, she only growled at them and left, rather than ripping off their presumptuous little faces.
A happy extension of Tommy’s social development is her gradual re-establishment of relationships with her daughters. Now that Tommy no longer actively rebuffs their advances, all three of her daughters occasionally move in for a long past due snuggle with Mom.
Tommy is currently facing another challenge with her characteristic toughness and indomitable spirit. She suffered a broken leg two weeks ago. It is an oblique, spiral fracture of her left hind tibia just above the hock joint. Broken limbs are never easy to overcome, but it could easily have spelled the end of life for an average 19 year old cat with chronic illness. Tommy, however, is anything but average. In consultation with both her local vet and a veterinary orthopedic surgeon, and after reviewing her x-rays and bloodwork with each, we decided to splint the leg and give her every opportunity to heal. And healing she is. Tommy is now getting around on her splint rather well … a bit too well, in fact. She thinks she should be getting on and off of the couch on her own, but I disagree. She has four to five more weeks of healing to go before her next x-ray, hopefully followed by removal of the splint.
True to the title of this entry, Tommy has never been one to give up in the face of injury or adversity. She has always been and will always be a fighter, and she will always have me doing battle by her side.
Footnote: I would be most appreciative for any and all healing wishes that my readers would like to send Tommy’s way.