Friday, October 12, 2012

Keiki, the Tripod Kitty - The Gift

Ok, so I am bogged down with work to do and of course, domestic chores (which need to be done, yet never get done), so as usual what do I do?
I have been meaning to post a new entry for some time now, and why I haven’t, I cannot say, but today, the rain is going to start for the winter, and probably will not cease until March, and I have only 5 more pair of earrings that still need listings written for them, followed by the 7 necklaces that also need listings (I am no slacker, I have just completed 17 earring listings, each with a “story” of its own). 

This is the “issue” that jewelry makers like me face daily. We love to apply our creativity to our craft. Making a beautiful piece of jewelry from a sheet of precious metal, spool of wire, some gems or beads is very, very rewarding….  And then comes the photography, which is also rewarding until it is time to edit and list which takes forever. So now, I feel a need to write about something else (writing is my usual activity) while our daughter, “The Queen” spends her time watching 3 Harry Potter videos in a row. 

But I digress, my purpose this morning, is to write about our newest family member, Keiki.

Keiki (we pronounce her name “Key-key”) is the Hawaiian word for “baby” or “child,” literally meaning “the little one.”

In ‘orchidae’ a keiki is a little jewel, a baby plant that sometimes grow at the top of a flower spike without ever being pollinated.  A true “gift” from the gods.

I just happened to be in Petsmart that day to pick up cat food for Banjo, our “Great White LandShark” that I have blogged about in a previous post Road Trip to Bend, Oregon.  As I was walking by the kitty room, I stopped to check all the kittens.  No, we were not in the market for a new cat, but I always look anyway, because who can walk by a room of fluffy little playful kittens and ‘not’ look?

There was an assortment of kittens and cats of many colors and sizes, and even though I have never been attracted to black cats per se (I love all cats of any color), but I find myself looking first at torties, calicos, tabbies and rare shades like blue creams and more,  including other breeds like Abyssinians, just in case one might be there needing a home.  On this day there was a standard assortment, nothing to pine about…and then I saw it, a little black blur that ‘cantered’ across the floor in a rocking motion from right to left, disappearing into a cabinet and hiding under some angled books at the bottom.  Of course, right behind this little black blur came the half grown orange tabby right on its heels, but just not fast enough to catch this little black blur.

What? What was that? My mind said something different than what my eyes saw.  And a mixed message usually perks me right up in any situation.  Then I saw two little yellow eyes peek out from under the books in the cabinet.  I had to enter the cat room just to see what was confusing me.  By this point the little black blur had morphed into a kitten as it had emerged out of the cabinet and started to resume its play with the older tabby cat.  I saw it from the backside, and still my mind sent me mixed messages.  I know the makeup of a cat, having had the pleasure of feline accompaniment almost all my life so far, but this did not fit the typical feline paradigm. I saw a rocking motion in the kitten as it launched into play….

By then I was inside the cat room and I sat down in the chair.  Most of the cats and kittens at this point became curious of me, the stranger.  There was a cat-tender in the room too, and I asked about this little kitten once I realized that it was holding its front leg up close to its body as it played. She mentioned to me that the kitten had a birth defect, but that it did not hinder her in any way.

This was Keiki’s advertisement (edited to omit all the specs and the name someone attached to her while in the kitty safe-house ):

“This little kitten is a happy, outgoing little solid black female kitten about 10 weeks old. She is short-haired, has no tail, and was born with a deformed front paw (which doesn't slow her down one bit)!! She had the whole world against her, but she has met and surmounted the challenge! She’s the only girl in the litter, and even though she does not have full use of her front right paw, she can scrap just as well as the boys...”
 I scooped the kitten up in my arms when she cantered by, and our relationship started that very moment.  The attendant and I talked for quite a while and I mentioned our cat Banjo and how we had driven all the way to Bend Oregon to pick her up from the pound all because her “pound pictures” showed her to have “eyebrows” which is something cats typically do not have.


We had taken the risk and it paid off very well, no cat box misses, no spraying, and we got a beautifully well managed full grown cat, albeit disabled as we have learned over the year or so, she has a bit of feline Aspergers, but that’s OK with us, we are already very familiar with Autism in our little family so what’s another one added?  We are already used to the idiosyncrasies of Autism, and Banjo has just fit right in.  I think I won the heart of the Kitty attendant that very afternoon and she gave me all the paperwork I would need for adoption and I took them home to fill them out.
Later that day, when my hubby called home from work I mentioned the little black blur of a kitten to him as we had just previously been discussing how we both felt that Banjo might be a bit lonely now that our old Tortie “Ginger” had passed away leaving Banjo as the sole surviving feline in our house.  Banjo’s autism plays out by spending hours in the backyard staring at knot holes in the fence, and by hours I mean just that. All day long.  At night Banjo sometimes walks through the house repeating the same winding pattern (as though she were a shark on its predator watch searching for smaller fishes to eat), hence because of her blue gray coat and white belly our son applied the name “Great White Shark” to her.
During the day, at the fence she watches for any movement, and when she sees it (there ARE cats next door), she runs up and sticks her paw through the knot hole.

Usually it is just sunlight shifting the view that catches her attention, rarely the neighbor’s cat, which sometimes can be seen sitting on top of the fence looking down at Banjo as she attempts to stick her paw through yet another knothole.
So the decision was made to apply for the little black blur of a kitten.  I filled out the paperwork, and if you have ever adopted a cat from a store or safe house, there are many conditions that apply when adopting. They want to know about family members, other animals, indoor or outdoor (and they usually require indoor unless it is a somewhat feral or older cat that has spent its lifetime outdoors or has terrible toileting habits). They ask about an adopter’s financial abilities to be able to care for a cat, the veterinarian expenses expected et al, and it is a big deal. When we got Banjo I had to fax a copy of our property taxes to them so they would have proof that we owned our home. So I was expecting the rundown of questions etc. and our ability to house a new adoptee kitten.

The attendant at Petsmart must have called the person in charge of adoptions before I did, because after I finished my paperwork I called her and found that she already knew about me and my desire to adopt the black blur of kitten into our home.  After talking for a while (it was a Wed. evening and I expected that the adoption process would take several days), we made an agreement to meet the following noon to go over paperwork.  I mentioned that if we were approved I would go ahead and purchase a second kitty litter box and kitten food that day so that I would be ready to go when the adoption took place. Imagine my surprise when she told me to go ahead and bring my cat carrier with me to our appointment! She had already tentatively decided, without even seeing our paperwork!
The next day I arrived early at Petsmart equipped with our kitty caboose, and wandered through the store picking up a new litter box and some toys for the new kitten.  They gave me a whole bag of kitten food with the adoption and I returned to the cat room to meet the person in charge of adoptions. We got along very well, she scanned my paperwork making sure certain things were there (my promise not to de-claw etc.), and the next thing I knew, we had a new kitten at home!


A note: it appears that this little black blur of a kitten had not only caught my eye, but the very next time I was in Petsmart  (I still walk by the cat room every single time) the attendant was there and she saw me, motioning me into the room. It seems that they had had more than several requests to adopt our new kitten!  I am so lucky that things worked out the way they did, because of what happened next, it is hard to say whether other folks might invest the time and finances to help this little kitten along in her life, and by that I should add to “save” her life.

As I mentioned, I picked her up on a Thursday, and by Friday her name had evolved.  I first called her Dufus, because she was a little dufus, comical and fun to watch, hobbling all around the house exploring her new surroundings. But then, her name came to me, first as Tiki which morphed into the name Keiki.  Phonetically, it wouldn’t confuse Banjo and her name would be easy for the daughter, “Our Queen” to pronounce.   It was the perfect name!  When my husband called home from work I mentioned it and he was 100% for it.  So the name Keiki became her official name!

A week after we got Keiki, she had her first vet appointment. Our vet was concerned because of Keiki’s lack of tail, being a Manx, certain inbred difficulties can arise with the deformity of the spine and tailbone, especially considering that she already had a deformed front leg, it was an indicator that she might have future issues arise and pet insurance was highly recommended for us to look into. I did look into it, deciding to put if off for a short amount of time to discuss it with my husband.

The very night before Keiki’s first appointment she was running around and jumping up and down from our high bed and I noticed a little white spot on her shoulder. Looking closer I realized it was an opening in her skin and in certain angles, her bone was sticking out!!!!   Omg! What was that? It was pointed! 

Checking feline anatomy online, I found no such bone in that area, the closest being the shoulder blade, but still it was a distance away from what I was seeing. There was no blood, no tear, no nothing but a hole that the bone would occasionally poke out through!  What the heck? While she did not seem to be in any pain, it was obvious to me that once some bacteria got into that hole her whole life would be threatened since it was on her shoulder and in close proximity to her heart. And she only weighed about 3 pounds. 

I do believe that the bone tore through the skin after she came to live with us, because she was suddenly in open space with many rooms to roam and many, many toys and things a kitten would love to explore, considering how active she was jumping up and down from places on high. We also have a kitty-tree that we had moved into the kitchen next to the window so that she could sit and look out (she is a housecat 100% of the time), so I have had to assume that her high activity level is what caused that bone to pop through, now that she no longer lived in a cage in a 6x9 foot cat room.

I was very concerned and when we got to the appointment, the vet-tech that checked her in was also just as concerned. X-rays were taken and we found the root of her issue immediately. The tech immediately called the Veterinarian from the surgery he was doing for a quick visual, and he agreed that her leg was in peril, and when the tech showed him where the bone had suddenly started to show it became apparent that it was an emergency thing, and not to be allowed to continue, not even until the following Monday for a surgery.  It had to be now.

Here is what was going on with our little Keiki:  what was originally thought to be a birth defect, the Xrays showed that it was not a birth defect after all, rather a massive trauma that must have happened shortly after her birth, since she was only 11 weeks old, and the paw had not grown to match the other front paw that she used for walking. It was atrophied into a little mini paw that we referred to as being her "Tyrannosaurus" leg, her teeny little front leg and paw that was pretty useless other than batting at things close at hand.  The bone that was sticking out was a compounded fracture of her humerus bone. Her little radius and ulnar bones were not even visible in the x-ray, as though they had been pulverized, and her paw which faced the wrong direction was… well... facing the wrong direction, and would never be usable.  Reconstruction was out of the question unless bones could be grown. Yea right….

So Keiki remained at the office, the Veterinarian probably gave up his lunch hour and commenced to amputating little Keiki’s front right leg!  I went home and waited.  I knew surgery was worth every penny spent, now knowing that this was not a birth defect after all.  What she must have been going through; what she must have experienced as a baby with a pulverized shoulder and leg.  How she was ever able to play with the other cats in the safe house is a testimony to her ability to survive considering how disabled she was.

After surgery the Veterinarian told me that Keiki had had blood flow still going to her paw, albeit very little, but still some blood fed it and that is why it stayed looking like a paw and didn’t die (which would probably been lethal to her); and that her nerves were completely intact which means she could still feel pain!  Oh my, a human would have crumbled had they experienced that! 

The surgeon told me that he spent extra time carefully rolling her nerves under and tucking them in so that Keiki would not have to deal with phantom limb pains all her life (thank you, thank you, thank you).
I picked Keiki up that later that afternoon, and brought her home, and cradled her in my arms every time her pain meds wore off for those first couple of days.  She would cry and look up at me. It broke my heart but I knew that as soon as her dose of meds kicked in, she would fall back asleep and she would be free from the pain and would awaken ready to go again until the meds wore off once more. Don’t get me wrong she wasn’t sedentary. She was up that very first night playing and scooting around the house (I videoed her play that very evening).
Keiki healed very quickly and even the very first evening she seemed to be happy to have that leg gone for good.  It must have been cumbersome and dragging her down all of her life, holding her back, but luckily she never knew that since she was so young when the actual trauma had occurred.  Now she had freedom!

Keiki's personal handmade tank Top

I must say that everyone in our Veterinary Clinic is personally related to Keiki in one way or another. She is their hero now, and when I take her in for visits everyone has to stop in to say Hi to Keiki. She is now their poster kitty and welcomed any time for a visit (not that she wants to visit), but they absolutely love her!  As do we.

Keiki is now 6 months old, still a small cat, just under 6 pounds and one of the most amazing things we have learn is that she is not a Manx at all!  She is a Japanese Bobtail mix, a completely different breed, whose bobbed tail is a natural occurrence in the breed and should not have the genetic malformations that Manx cats have after all! She has grown into a beautiful adolescent that is solid black (sometimes striping shows in the bright sunlight), and she has this beautiful Siamese shaping to her body, long, thin, and artistic in appearance with a triangle head and beautifully shaped almond eyes of a rich golden shade.  She even wags her tail!
She talks a lot with a light musical voice and she is quite interactive. I love this pretty little cat, as much as I love our Banjo, The Great White Land Shark, who really could care less if Keiki was here or not. Oh well. Now Banjo has evolved into a spitter and a growler, always telling Keiki (in cat language) to “Back Off!”
Funny thing, even though Banjo sounds like a squalling jaguar at times, she actually enjoys parallel play with Keiki and can be seen playing tag with Keiki when she thinks we are not watching. I think her aspergers was pushed into her own face when Keiki joined our household, because Keiki is so interactive and outwardly driven, and Banjo is so “self” driven that she finds it virtually undesirable to be touched by any small cat who just loves to jump on her as soon as she comes inside the house. 
As Keiki has grown her feline RNA characteristics from life on the Savannah have shown up and since she is so young and overly-gregarious, we decided to help Banjo thwart off Keiki’s attempts to bite her on the neck in a death grip, as a lion would do to its prey, by getting a spiked collar for Banjo.

Banjo will not fight back, other than some really creative spitting and growling (the news station may get calls of a wild cougar in the neighborhood if the neighbors hear her growling), and the occasional unconnected swipe of Banjo’s paw. 
Poor Banjo, she thought she would have a relaxing life of leisure.  But karma is, as karma does; because when Banjo first came to live with us, she occasionally attempted to instigate play with Ginger, who was aged and at the end of her life, having just lost her natural feline sister just 6 months prior. Ginger was lonely, and missed “Bones", who had passed from cancer at 17 years of age.  They were litter mates having spent their lives together in our family, Ginger remaining almost to her 18th birthday, so naturally Ginger missed the interaction, and Banjo wanted much more interaction than Ginger could give in her last days. So Banjo had a habit of pestering Ginger, and at times Banjo needed to be ‘called off' in her badgering of Ginger to play at inappropriate times.
Now Banjo has a young one of her own pestering her, but when Banjo thinks no one is looking, she plays with the kitty Kong toys filled with catnip, she interacts side by side with Keiki.
Banjo's high
Life is funny.
For my family and me, Keiki has been a gift that just keeps on giving. For me, personally she has helped me in my rehab in more ways I could imagine.  I may have had to endure lung surgery but she lost one of her legs!
A couple of days ago, I was sweeping and Keiki decided that she wanted to ride the broom, need I say more?
Keiki is certainly “our little one, our gift!”
And Banjo?  She still sits and watches the knotholes in the fence.  Oh well, some things never change.
Banjo, The Great White Landshark

Thank you for visiting Claybritt Images.
To see Keiki's chronicles, her videos can be seen here, or you can search YouTube for Keiki, the Tripod Kitty
To see Banjo's viral video, click here or search YouTube for Cat Watches Alien
To meet Graby, the newest member of our wacky feline family, click here.


Everything works the same way, just minus one leg!

If only.......

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