Sparky's Saga...

This year has been a big year for the kitties and vet appointments.  They had their annual appointment on December 5, where they get their vaccines.  Then Smokey needed an ultrasound and Sparky needed dental cleaning on January 16.  This day would have been expensive enough with those two procedures but I had to make it worse by having Smokey in her carrier on the front seat of the MINI.  I should have known that she would pee in the carrier, like she always does.  This time it got all over the seat.  You just can’t get that smell out of fabric.  After Jerome put in a ton of time and effort to clean the seat, new seats were required.

This random vet day ended up costing us over $2000!  And Smokey is not even “cured” yet.  At this point, we’re focusing on Sparky…

Every year right around springtime, Sparky starts molting.  There are tumbleweeds and patches of fur all over the house.  I am usually waiting in anticipation for the time of year that he can be outside for most of the day, so that I don’t have to pick up all this fur.

This year was the same, only more.  Tons more.  With all the other stuff that was going on at the house, I hardly paid attention other than to remark to myself that it was a lot of fur.

In March, we left for a little over 2 weeks for a trip to Maui to visit and work on our condo.  During that time, our neighbor Al agreed to watch and feed the kitties.  He is our go-to guy, especially now that my cousin-niece has left the US and is living in Belgium with her boyfriend.

When we got home from vacation, Sparky looked horrible!  He had lost weight and pulled out so much hair you could see his pink skin.  His tail looked like a lion tail; thin from the base up to the puff on the end.  And he had a hot spot.  A spot on his skin that he wouldn’t stop licking.  It was an open wound and his whole bottom was hot.

We made an appointment for the vet for a week after we got home.  First we tried to see if we could handle it on our own with an e-collar that we had and some triple antibiotic.  Plus, LOTS of food.

April 8 - They weighed him at the vet.  He had just been there on February 27 for a check-up and they weighed him at that time.  He had lost over 2 lbs. since then.  They gave him a shot, did some blood tests, gave us some prednisone (elixir) and some ointment.  We were told to keep the cone (of shame) on him until things get better.  They wanted him to come in again on April 14 for a blood draw because he was going to get some teeth extracted on April 17.  Poor kid.

The hot spot had not gone away and every night when we took the cone off so that he could clean himself, we would have him under strict supervision because he would eventually work his way to the hot spot to start the licking again.

In fact, there were times that he would show up and the cone would be off and his hot spot was bloody again.  This happened too many times to count and it was always frustrating because we were back at square one.

I don’t know if you know what it’s like to watch your kitty (or puppy) wear an e-collar – it’s just pitiful – you feel so bad for them.  It’s probably mentally harder on the humans than the animals.

One night around 9-9:30pm, Sparky was begging to go outside, so Jerome let him out.   This normally isn’t a problem, even during the time that he had the e-collar, but on this night, something out there must have scared him or chased him or he was just being curious - but he became a missing kitty.  The search began around 10:15pm.  I went out to look for him, calling out but there was just no sign of him.  We were up that night until after midnight, calling him and looking for him.  We didn’t talk about it but we were both worried that this episode must have something to do with the cone.  Is he stuck somewhere?  We could only hope that he would do his Houdini act and somehow get out of the cone and get himself home.

Jerome thought that the next morning he would be home…nope.

As we drove into work, I asked Jerome if he would be OK if I put something up on the Nextdoor app to see if any of our neighbors may have seen him.  He gave me permission, so I added him to a few groups on Facebook as well.

After work, he still wasn’t home – it was cold and raining all day.  We got into our rain gear and started combing the area…no luck.  No signs of a large animal attacking him, no signs of a cone, no animal hits…I printed out some info to pass out to neighbors.  We knocked on doors.  No one had seen anything.

Still no Sparky the next morning.  By now, we could only think the absolute worst.  He must have been killed, hit by a car.  We both cried on our way in to work.

Determined and hoping for the best, we made better signs with larger pictures.  Read something on a lost pet site that says to make signs using florescent poster board.

We made flyers and posters when we got home from work when Sparky still did not greet us at the car as we drove up.  This was so distressing because that is the daily routine.  That evening we placed posters all around the neighborhood and passed out flyers and it wasn’t long before we started getting calls.

Saturday, we started getting calls of Sparky sightings, all over the area.  The first ones were at 32 Mile Road and Campground.  That’s over 2 miles away.  How could he have gotten that far?  The next was at Benjamin and Sisson, which was around 2 miles from where he was last sighted.  Then another from behind the VFW hall off East Gates.  He was certainly making the rounds.  Everyone we asked couldn’t tell us if he was still wearing the e-collar.

We were getting so many calls, we thought we should make more signs and more flyers.  We had something like 10 signs and 300 flyers.  We were driving all over, searching, calling, combing the area…what was strange is that we didn’t find him and stranger yet, we hadn’t seen any other cat during all of our searches.

We had a wedding that evening for the daughter of a very old friend of mine.  The wedding was in Detroit and my friend had told me a few weeks earlier to get a room down there so that after the wedding, we could all go to Greektown and walk around.  So, we did…we rented a room a few weeks earlier using our Airbnb credits.  Now we were regretting it because first, we were distraught about Sparky and second, we would have preferred to stick close to home if we needed to go somewhere if he were spotted.  By the end of the night, my friend told us that they weren’t planning to walk around Greektown – they were just going to go back to the hotel to sleep.

So, after the wedding, we headed to our Airbnb in Corktown.  Cute place – the couple that owned the house made a guest suite in their basement.  I spent some time that night scouring over the Arlo movies of the outside to see if Sparky came home.  Nothing.

The next morning, it was like we weren’t in much of a hurry…we woke up around 8:30, took showers, got dressed and walked to a local breakfast spot to have a bite.  We ate, walked back to the car and headed home.  We decided to start off by looking in the area behind the VFW hall because someone had left a text that morning saying they saw a black and white cat.

We walked around and passed out flyers – I think we were there for over an hour.  Nothing.  Jerome said we should get back home to check on Smokey.  Yep.

As we drove up the driveway, who jumped out of the boulder garden to meet us at the car?  SPARKY!!!  We couldn’t believe it!  And he still had his cone on!  Oh my gosh!  He looked skinny again but not dirty.  The cone was in good shape too, which led me to believe that on Wednesday night, he wandered into someone’s garage/shed who may have been doing yard work – they closed him in there and they didn’t open it again until Sunday morning when they needed to cut the lawn again.  I checked the Arlo movies and it seems he first showed up at the house at 9AM that morning.  He had been gone for 3.5 days!

We were so happy, ecstatic really.  We took off his cone because we felt horribly that he was stuck with it on for so many days.  He immediately went after his spot and removed the scab!  Clearly, this was not going to be over.

I tried to think of other solutions.  I went to the pet shop to get some medical tape and the cashier suggested a child’s undershirt.  So, I went to Babies R Us and picked up some onesies.  I had to do this a couple of times because the ones I thought would fit were too small.  I cut the onesies so that his front legs could comfortably come through and then the tail area so that he could go to the bathroom.  I wrote his name and phone number on the back of the onesie and “For Medical Purposes” so that if a neighbor saw him, they wouldn’t think anything bad.

He handled the onesie okay…for one or two times we needed to change him out of it.  But after several days, he made it clear that he really hated it and would rather wear the e-collar.

In a couple of days, he managed to lose the e-collar again, so I had to run to the pet shop before they closed for the day and I purchased an alternative e-collar called the zen-collar.  This one was like a little inner tube around his neck, or like a travel pillow.  He really liked it – he could get comfortable with it.

June 9, he had a check-up at the vet – he was still itchy, he was still wearing the zen-collar and they decided to try a different approach – gave him a shot and some prednisone in pill form that I would need to chop up and put in his food and new flea medication.  The vet thought that maybe he is reacting to a flea bite...who knows?  But within a few days, he was no longer going crazy over his hot spot and we could finally, after 2.5 months, remove the collar and he could be FREE!

Today is July 10 – he is once again starting to lick at his hot spot and it is scabbing up again.  I went to the vet over the weekend and got some more prednisone pills and gave him another flea treatment.  We can only hope that this will end shortly.

Jerome started researching GPS collars and we had ordered one right after Sparky got home, it has still yet to arrive – it’s coming from Germany.  There have already been a couple of times that we felt we really could have used it.  One was last weekend when fireworks were being lit around the neighborhood and Sparky was missing again.  We really would like to know where he goes and hides.  He was home by 12:30AM…the previous night we were quick enough to have both kitties in the house before the next door neighbors started lighting off fireworks.  The kitties were pretty scared and Sparky was catatonic and under the bed!

Let’s end with a cute story.  One of the last times Sparky was at the vet, he had on the zen-collar.  A lady customer looked in the cage and asked me “what does kitty have around his neck?”  I say “a yoke, he’s a worker kitty.”  She said without missing a beat “what equipment does he pull?”  I say “a wagon, he pulls his sister around.”


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