Eliot the cat looked normal when I came home from work Thursday night, but once I got him inside (he plays outside all day while I'm at work) I saw that his back left foot was bloodied. On closer examination, it appeared that he lost one claw altogether - there was a bloody hole in his paw where his claw should have been. I have no idea what had happened and so far he hasn't told me.
He didn't seem to be in pain, but I still took him to the vet Friday morning, as the wound looked like the kind of thing that could get infected and I didn't want to leave it unattended over the weekend. The vet cleaned the wound and gave him some antibiotics and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, and told me to keep him inside over the weekend so that the wound won't get dirty and infected. She briefly suggested having him wear a cone around his neck to keep from picking at the wound, but I talked her out of that. For what it's worth, her guess was that he got his claw caught in some sort of mesh or something, and then tore it out in a panic as he fled.
Eliot hates being cooped up inside all day and doesn't understand why I won't let him out. He's been driving me crazy all weekend walking around the house meowing, and running for the door every time I come in or go out. This will continue throughout the balance of the weekend and until Tuesday when we have a follow-up appointment to see how he's recovering. But he has no idea of how much worse it could have been if he had to have worn the cone as well.
The worst part, though, is he has no idea of how he's going to re-pay me for the $150 the vet charged. He apparently has no health insurance at all and instead merely relies on my generosity to cover his medical expenses. Well, today I had to send the dentist a check for $450 to cover the portion of my recent tooth extraction that my insurance didn't cover, so I'm a little stretched to cover his feline ass. And all of his complaining over not being allowed outside isn't winning him any sympathy dollars, either. I may have to send him outside with a box of pencils to sell, or have him go door-to-door and hustle magazine subscriptions. Or maybe I can sit him on a cart with his wounded foot stretched out in front of him and a sign around his neck ("Please Help"), and set him out by an exit ramp off of I-75 with an empty cup to get handouts from compassionate commuters.
But I'll probably just let his debt slide as I may have been at least partially responsible for bringing this karma down on us. Last week, I finally got around to setting a trap behind the refrigerator for the gremlin that's been rattling around back there at night. After having set the trap, I awoke in the middle of the night to the usual sound of the rattling, and then I heard a loud snap as the trap apparently was triggered, followed by two painful-sounding spasms. I wanted to pull the fridge out there and then to see what I had caught, but it was 4 am, so I just went back to sleep.
The next morning, I did pull the refrigerator out from the cabinet after putting the cat outside just in case the trap hadn't been sprung, and saw what manner of gremlin I had killed. The plumbers were right - it was a rat, a big, fat rat, dead in the trap. I put it in a garbage bag and took it out with the trash.
There might have been more humane solutions, but rats are known vectors of disease and I wanted to do more than merely "discourage" it from coming into my house. But even though it had already destroyed the water line for my ice-maker, I'm not sure it deserved such a brutal death.
What any of this had to do with Eliot's injury I will never know, or if the loss of a cat's claw is fair compensation for the loss of a rat's life. But as I listen to Eliot's insistent cries and meows wanting to be let outside, I have to wonder if I'm not at least partially responsible in some way.