Tag Archives: rabies

Our Old Yeller Cat

I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with living out on the farm.  When job hunting as I am now, I always take the address off my resume because it could be perceived as a disadvantage, and employers will think I won’t be reliable because I live in the snow belt.  They don’t know that I will drive through anything, and that I’ve come to terms with spending at least 5 years of my life in my car.  Which explains things like my “travel chips” tucked under my seat, and my door pockets that resemble a medicine cabinet.
 

But I have had to deal with issues that none of my urban based co-workers have.  There was for example, the great Rabies scare of 2006.   We had a cow that was sick and bawling, and hubby had the vet come.   He checked it out and eliminated a bunch of stuff, and then said that one remaining possibility was Rabies.  By the next day he was fairly sure that was the case, so we had to put the cow down, and when the test results came back the diagnosis was confirmed. 

I am a bit of a hypochondriac at the best of times, and learned a long time ago that ignorance is bliss in the area of ailments, as I immediately begin to observe the symptoms in myself or the kids the minute I read about any disease.  We’ve had everything from Malaria to  West Nile to Lyme disease to Meningitis, and that’s just from news stories that I couldn’t turn off fast enough.

The vet said as long as our cats were up to date on their shots there was nothing to worry about with them.  Except that I had let that slide a tiny bit … and they weren’t exactly up to date.  I’ll never forget the feeling in the pit of my stomach as hubby was reassuring me that it was probably very unlikely that we would need to worry about the cats, and that we should schedule them immediately for their shots.  As we chatted, our cat Furbert appeared, purring and rubbing as per usual.  Furbert innocently looked up at me, and he had one single long strand of spit dangling from his lip.

Well, that did it.  I was full blown hysterical, in Old Yeller mode.  Hubby was reassuring me once again, saying that he saw that the cat had pine pitch (sap from a pine tree) on his fur earlier and that he probably just licked it.  That wasn’t good enough for me though.  I called the emergency number of Rabies Control and shrieked into the phone calmly informed the guy  that our cat was foaming at the mouth and demanded to know when I should expect that we were all going to succumb.  Since they had been vaccinated in prior years, he thought we were okay, but suggested we isolate them for a couple of weeks, just to be sure. 

We gathered up the bewildered felines and unceremoniously locked them in the basement, where they all huddled on the top step, protesting loudly. (I understood their outrage though – our house is over 100 years old, and the basement is pretty creepy.  I refuse to go down there, even under threat of impending tornado — I’d rather take my chances going with the house, Dorothy style.)

I didn’t sleep a wink that night, and I had a work meeting in the big city the next day.  I remember groggily sitting around the  table in the glass office tower with my co-workers and agency partners, thinking about how they would feel if they knew that they were sharing a working lunch with a Rabies sufferer.  I avoided looking at the pitcher of water on the table just in case I was already in full blown hydrophobia. I wondered if and when I would be overcome with the urge to bite my colleagues.  I thought about how bad that was going to look on my Performance Review.

As it turned out, hubby was right this one time and we didn’t have to worry.  The cats endured their basement banishment, and got their updated shots and were fine.  We didn’t have to shoot anyone, and none of my co-workers had to get a bunch of needles in their belly because of their proximity to me.

But it sure confirmed one thing for me.  Cats are demented and have very warped senses of humour.  I’m almost sure this is how it went down: Our three cats were all lounging it up in an adjoining room, trading stories about tormenting rodents and licking butter.  Suddenly, Furbert’s pointed ears perk up as he overhears the conversation where hubby is informing me that the cow Rabies test is positive.  Then Furbert probably stretched and said, “Watch this” … and proceeded to work up that single spit strand, then casually sidles in to where we were and was all  like,  

“Purr, Purr, What’s up guys?”  

Of course, he couldn’t have known that it was going to backfire and he was going to go into lockdown for three weeks, or he would never have done it.  He’s not a genius – just a smart aleck with a wicked sense of humour and occasional mean streak .  If he were a person he would be Ricky Gervais. 

Furbert, always the comic, ready to go play Squash

I’m almost sure that’s exactly what happened. Or, I guess there is always hubby’s far fetched theory for the infamous strand of spit – the  “he licked pine pitch” scenario. (Sometimes I think he has an overactive imagination.)

 As always, life on the farm has provided lots of valuable life lessons. Now the kids haul out the old “Time we had Rabies” story as an example whenever they are trying to make the point that I may be just a tad overprotective and perhaps even mentally unstable. And they may be right – I saw a public service announcement about that recently. I  have many symptoms.

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Filed under Animal Stories, Farm Life, Memories