Today I gave blood for the first time in my life. Since I was finally pushed to make the appointment because Tristan gave blood to one of my patients a couple of weeks ago, I thought today would be a good day to tell his story!
I worked at a vet clinic in Ottawa while I was home during the summer between second and third year of my Bachelor’s degree. We had this one ridiculous week where one day was FUBAR’d by an orthopaedic surgery we tried to do for the Humane Society on a beagle. Then the next day we had a feral cat the Humane Society brought in to be spayed that went bat shit crazy and latched on, all four canines sunk deep in, to the surgical assistant’s elbow. The next day she could barely move her arm, and the Humane Society called with a kitten that needed a leg amputation. The vet said “no way, we can’t do another thing for them this week…” Then they lay on the guilt: “You guys take him and amputate, or we put him down.” So we gave in…
In comes this iddy biddy TINY ball of pale orange fuzz… with a gigantic balloon of swellage replacing one front leg. He was 9 weeks old, had been bit by a dog, and the leg was literally the size of the rest of his body, and cold. Had to come off. This is a surgery best done with an assistant… but the usual girl was out due to previously mentioned injury. I had been working there on and off since high school and was basically next in seniority… so I got to scrub in for the first time ever!
Limb amputation will be a topic for another post for another time… but the point here is I held the injured leg until it was detached from the body, and then deposited it in the garbage. And I knew in that moment: I have to keep the rest of this cat!
He was painfully cute after surgery. You can’t even understand. He lived at the clinic for a while, because I didn’t think my mum wanted me to bring another cat into her apartment… but she visited him at the clinic a couple of times and fell in love, so he came home to her place for a while. I was supposed to go back into residence at Guelph, but I just adopted this kitten – I wasn’t about to leave him in Ottawa! So I found a place to live off campus.
I named him Tristan, because it’s like tri-stand.. or tri-star… basically, it’s an attempt at a subtle call out to his three-legged status. He’s a SPONGE for affection, but he’s a bit of a spaz cadet so he doesn’t sit well for cuddles 9 times out of 10. If he does sit still, he drools like there’s no tomorrow. He sometimes lays his considerable weight over my wrists while I’m trying to type, and he’s been known to head butt with vigour, and shove his muzzle into my eye socket. He’s probably the most obnoxious cat I’ve ever had, but I love him.
People don’t tend to notice he’s missing a leg – he gets around pretty well and isn’t really slowed down by it. I’ve had a friend play with a string and Tristan for half an hour before proclaiming “Holy shit, he only has one arm!” – Somehow he never noticed Tristan only slapped the string with one paw?? He can also do some seriously impressive acrobatics when chasing a toy dangled by a stick…
He’s 7 years old now, and in great health. A few weeks ago I had a patient with bone marrow cancer who was severely anaemic and the owner wanted to try a blood transfusion. Tristan had perfect blood work, so we used him as the donor. My patient sadly did not do well and passed away within a week of the transfusion… but Tristan was a prostar as a donor, and was best kind afterwards. Of course, he didn’t really volunteer himself… what kind of owner would I be if I would volunteer my cat for something I wouldn’t do myself? No longer the case, I’m now a blood donor as well!