I almost started the New Year badly. Almost. Thankfully, 2005 ended well and 2006 started even better. Here's what happened.
It's New Year's eve and I decide to usher in 2006 with a sparkling clean house. So I'm up at 10am, rubber gloves on both my hands, scrub brush in my right and anti-bacterial floor detergent in my left.
Every time I clean the house, I pack the kittens safely away so I don't trample on them or have them ingest anything poisonous. Since I still have Jolanda's giant cage with me, I secure the kitties inside with their toys and a bowl of water. And then I begin my dusty duties.
As I clean, scrub, mop and wipe, beads of sweat glisten on my forehead. I look at the time and it is twelvish. I double-up my speed so that I can feed the kittens lunch and then feed myself too. Every now and then I hear a little banging around in the cage and a mew here and there. I chuckle to myself. Kittens can play anywhere given half the chance.
It's past 1pm and I'm finally done with the cleaning. I throw down the scrub brush and detergent bottle, and yank off the rubber gloves. I'm tired, sweaty and feeling totally unglamourous.
I make my way to the utility room where the kittens are and I open the cage. Callas zooms out. But Bombay doesn't. I look in and I receive a HUGE shock.
Bombay's paw is stuck at the side of the cage. He looks at me and mews pitifully. He is in a very awkward position. His entire right arm is twisted such that he has to prop himself against the bars of the cage with his left paw to keep his balance.
I take a deep breath and tell myself, "It's okay. Just go in and pry him loose. It's simple."
So in I go into the cage (it's a good thing I'm a tiny person, useful for situations like this). I squeeze myself into the corner Bombay is in. To help take some of the pressure off, I lift Bombay onto my knee so that there isn't so much strain on his twisted arm. I feel down the bone of his arm slowly to check if anything is broken. No, his arm seems fine. I carefully feel his paw to check if it is alright too, but that is harder to determine since the last three pads are trapped so tightly in a gap unbelievably tiny. I then push at the cage with all my might to widen the gap that is pinching on Bombay's paw.
As I push and push and push, I grow increasingly panicky because I realise that I'm not strong enough to widen the gap myself. Bombay mews painfully. I push and push again and get irritated by the ribbon that I had hung at the top of the cage earlier for the kittens to play with. It keeps getting into my eye. I finally sweep the ribbon from my face and in my greatest horror, I realise that it is soaked in blood.
I look around the cage for the first time since getting inside, trying to take in all the details as quickly as possible. I had to work fast. The ribbon is bloody. The towel that I had put in the cage for them to lie on is also stained with blood. I look at the bottom of the cage and see that the area directly underneath Bombay is covered in urine. Bombay must have been in such agony, he peed.
I am terribly shaken at this point. I push at the cage with greater urgency. Bombay licks my fingers and my arm. It is almost as if he is reassuring me... that I am doing alright... that he is so relieved I finally found him. I am almost in tears.
Another minute of desperate struggling and I know I can't get Bombay loose myself. I didn't want to let him go, but I had to. I put him down gently, bunch up the towel into a ball and place him onto it. The extra height should help at least a little bit. I squeeze myself out of the cage, dash for my handphone and call 995 and spill everything out in a torrent of words.
"Hello, is this the fire department?"
"Please help. My cat's paw is stuck in the cage. I'm not..."
"Sorry, we don't do animal rescue."
"Please. It's not too difficult. I'm just not strong enough to..."
"No, we don't do animals. Call SPCA. Here's the number... blah-blah-blah."
I hang up and immediately dial SPCA's number. At this point, I think I've stopped breathing.
"This is SPCA. Kxxx speaking."
"My cat's paw is stuck in the cage. It's pretty bad. His arm is twisted. There's blood everywhere. I'm not strong enough to pry him loose myself."
"Where do you live?"
"I'm sorry. Our team is in Tuas now doing an emergency rescue."
"When is the earliest they can come?"
"We have 10 calls, you know?"
I'm screaming in head, "So?! How does this help me?!"
And she adds, "I'll have to call you back."
I'm almost out of my mind now and call The Flyer.
"Heeeeeelp! It's an emergency! Can you please come now? Bombay's paw is stuck in the cage. There's blood everywhere. Are you at home?"
"Yes, I'm at home. Ok, I'll come now."
Then a minute later, SPCA calls back.
"Hi, Kxxx here. Our team can't come. Why don't you call Francis? He does animal rescue. I'm not sure how much he charges, but he is very good."
"Which organisation is he with?"
"He isn't with any organisation. Do you want his number?"
"Yes, give it to me. Thanks."
And I call Francis who agrees to come. He tells me right away that he charges $100 for each rescue, but because mine is a kitten, he will charge only $60. I'm in no mood to bargain so I'm saying yes to everything.
Another seven minutes later, The Flyer is at my house. We're struggling to get Bombay out together. We dismantle as much of the cage as we can. Then I'm back inside holding Bombay up in such a way there is less twist to his arm. The Flyer has stuffed two thick screwdrivers into the gaps to help hold the space open. We push at the cage together. It doesn't budge and Bombay is becoming grouchy.
We decide to try something else. Right now, I can't remember what anymore. Everything is such a blur. The Flyer says, "If I do this, I can feel the gap widening a bit." But Bombay is protesting loudly and The Flyer isn't sure about continuing with it. I urge her on, "Just do it. We have to get him out. Let him mew."
With that, The Flyer makes one last push and Bombay's paw pops out!
Oh my... what a relief! I'm still inside the cage holding onto Bombay. Without putting him down, I check his paw for any broken bones. Nothing seems broken. It's nothing short of a miracle. Still refusing to put Bombay down, I squeeze us both out of the cage and make a quick call to Francis.
"Francis, it's alright! We got the cat out!"
"Erm... I'm standing outside your door. You just pay me $30 lah."
So I let Francis in. He checks Bombay's arm and paw. The bleeding was from two broken nails on his other paw, probably from trying to support his weight in a very awkward position. His right paw is obviously sore and Bombay limps, but otherwise Francis feels that seeing a vet isn't necessary. I'm doubtful.
Francis goes to his van to retrieve a small bottle of ointment which he applies on both of Bombay's paws. He says it will help with the swelling and prevent the onset of any infection. I still have my doubts.
But, within minutes of hobbling around, I see Bombay putting some weight on his right paw and everyone heaves a sigh a relief. If he puts weight on it, that means that there really isn't any broken bones.
Francis takes a look at the cage and tells me that this particular cage is meant for small dogs. That's why the gaps are larger and probably why Bombay's paw got stuck in it. He says that he has done many animal rescues involving such cages -- a lot of them cats whose heads have gotten stuck between the bars. The Flyer agrees. She says that's why hamsters and lizards often break their arms and legs in metal cages as well. These cages just aren't good for animals and reptiles.
I then thank Francis for coming. He is a nice guy who seems to know his stuff. I also thank The Flyer for running to my aid. If not for her, I would have drowned myself and both kitties in my tears.
I observe Bombay closely for the rest of the afternoon. He really seems okay. He's playing with Callas and even tries to run at one point.
It has been three days now. The swelling of Bombay's right paw has gone down. It was swollen to double its size initially. But other than that, Bombay is pouncing and running and jumping and stalking like before. He is even using the scratching post very comfortably.
Observe the right paw
The right paw is almost double the size of the left
If you brush through the fur, you'll see that the skin is visibly bruised
Each pad on the right paw is so swollen, the claws even when extended can't be seenI'm glad Bombay came out of this alright. I only have until Saturday with Callas and Bombay before they go live in their new home. No more cages for them. Just a lot of treats and sayangs.
Those who you using such cages, please be aware of the dangers and be very careful. Try closing up any unwanted gaps with a plier to prevent such accidents from happening to your pet.