A Black Cat With Good Luck

Halloween is a time when ghastly creatures roam the streets, strange occurrences take flight and superstitions seek rebirth from those who believe.

It is only fitting, then, that the topic of black cats and bad luck comes up.

Are they really associated with bad luck?

We see a lot of black cat patients and, in our hospital, the superstition does not hold true. In fact, I remember one ebony feline who himself was quite lucky.

Mr. Sanchez rushed into our clinic with a bundle in his arms. A mournful sound came from the oversized towel placed on the exam table.

“Doc, I don’t know what happened to Simon. I came home and heard him wailing over and over again. I found him pulling himself across the dining room floor, dragging his rear legs. I think they must be broken.”

Frazzled, Mr. Sanchez’s hands shook as he opened the towel.

Our technician Stacy rushed out to get pain medication as I did a quick assessment.

“Mr. Sanchez, I don’t think Simon has any broken bones. His legs are rigid and cold. As you mentioned, he’s not able to move them. This usually means that a blood clot is blocking circulation to both hind legs.”

Reaching down, I took a nail trimmer and cut one of Simon’s nails really short. Doing so would normally result in blood weeping from the nail bed, but instead there was none.

When Stacy returned, I immediately gave Simon an injection to help relieve his pain. Mr. Sanchez gently cradled his buddy while humming a soft familiar tune. I started to discuss options, including euthanasia.

“It’s not his time, Doc, it’s not his time.” Tears welled. “Simon came with me to Hawaii. It’s just the two of us now, you see. I would do anything for him.”

Mr. Sanchez was holding it together, but barely.

I explained that cases like Simon’s are not uncommon. During the exam, I noticed a profound heart murmur. This usually means that he has a heart condition, as many older cats do. The abnormal blood flow in the heart causes a blood clot to form that eventually travels out of the heart and lodges in the arteries that enter the rear legs. His prognosis was poor.

“We have meds to help Simon,” I explained, “but the best medication is only found at human hospitals because of the expense.”

Looking up, Mr. Sanchez said, “I want to give Simon the best chance possible. If you can find the medication, I’ll pay for it.”

After several phone calls, the medication needed for Simon was found, but it came with a $2,000 price tag. Mr. Sanchez rushed out and within an hour returned with the bottle. All we could do now was wait and hope for the best.

The next morning Simon walked about his cage as if the night before was just a bad dream. Mr. Sanchez had saved his buddy.

A year later, Simon died from his heart condition, but Mr. Sanchez was more prepared when it happened.

“No regrets …” he said. It was quite a sum to pay for Simon’s life, but Mr. Sanchez didn’t even hesitate to pay the $2,000.

Simon was truly a lucky cat. Although, if you asked Mr. Sanchez, he would insist that he was the lucky one.

Dr. John Kaya is the director of the Windward Community College veterinary technician program and associate veterinarian for VCA University Animal Hospital.