On a hot summer day in August, Schuylkill Veterinary Hospital got a call from Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA about a cat laying in a parking lot all day on Route 61 in Pottsville. Good Samaritans brought this pitiful creature to the hospital. A red tabby with a neglected cauliflower ear, he was emaciated, dehydrated, loaded with fleas and ticks, and had maggots on a tail wound. He was miserable.  Plan of action included rehydration, treatment for fleas, ticks, ear mites  and intestinal parasites. He had no identification, no collar with tag or microchip. This poor soul was dying. Every time I checked on him, he would stumble to the front of his kennel with a look of gratitude that I cannot describe. He purred, despite not having the energy to walk.

The next day, he was still alive, but his prognosis was guarded. His soulful eyes captivated my heart. I made my decision at that time. If he died, he was going to die as a loved pet. He was my cat. He started eating and got stronger. I took him home. Still very weak, he adjusted well. The other animals accepted him peacefully. On his introduction to one Labrador, he rubbed his head on the dog’s muzzle and she in turn flipped over, belly up, in deference to her new friend, the pathetic red cat. As a few days passed, his appetite did not improve, but he did enjoy sleeping in the crook of my arm every night. I returned him to the hospital for more blood work, a dental procedure and the placement of a feeding tube.

On returning home he was definitely getting more nutrition via the tube, but developed pneumonia. One night, I was awake checking him regularly to see if he was alive. I just really wanted him to know he was loved if he took that trip to kitty heaven.  He rallied and with continued medication and feeding tube adjustments, slowly improved. During this convalescence, I frequently consulted other veterinarians, as I wanted to be sure I was doing what was best for him. My friend and colleague, Dr Paul Kerns, patiently listened to me as I described the latest issues and treatment for Crinkle in regular phone calls.

Why did this cat get under my skin?? The truth is, I don’t know. I see cats every day. I have the opportunity to adopt needy cats regularly. I don’t NEED another cat. I don’t remember when I last had a single digit cat population. My kind of cat has long hair, and is either tricolor or an unusual color. Crinkle is a short haired red tabby, as regular looking as they come, except for the beat up appearance.  Something about his manner and the way he looked at me made me feel like Spiderman had just reeled me in with a well placed strand of webbing. At this writing, Crinkle is stable, but not yet thriving. He is not a young cat. My hopes are that he will live out his days in comfort, not knowing hunger, or pain, or loneliness, here at Canterbury Tails.