I think Arianwen lost one of her lives recently. It was about three weeks ago, when I took her to a local groomer.
It is only now I'm able to recount this story without crying my eyes out. Read on, and you'll understand why.
Arianwen had a couple of mats in her coat, and I felt a little flea dirt when petting her soft fur. So, with every good intention, I brought the love of my life to Pet Depot, only a couple miles/minutes away. She was an angel, getting into her carrier without protesting, and riding calmly in the passenger seat, facing me inside her belted-in carrier. She watched the world, cuddled up on the nice, soft towel lining I had arranged for her.
When we arrived at Pet Depot, I looked around and suspiciously noted the lack of feline clientele. But, when Rebecca, the groomer, began oohing over how beautiful Arianwen is and how soft her coat is, I dismissed my suspicions as just a statistical anomaly. It happened to be a day no one took a cat to the groomer, nothing more.
Rebecca started by clipping Arianwen's claws, which I didn't really like but let her continue because she was doing a good job. She was being gentle and very careful not to cut the quick in Arianwen's little 'fingers'.
She clipped the two mats, doing a patchy job, but getting those mats off my baby so she could be comfortable was more important.
Rebecca gave Arianwen a flea dip shampoo that smelled kind of strong. I commented on the smell, but Rebecca said this the "standard" flea dip all groomers use. Upon my further protest, she said she had used this product on cats before with no problem. There would just be "a little oily residue," and that would be "gone in a couple of days".
Later that day, Arianwen "told" me she did not like the oily residue left in her coat. She "said" it was dirty and smelled bad. Several hours later I understood why my laid-back little sweetheart was complaining.
She called me after I had gone to bed, about 2-am, and I could see was not doing well. She wasn't walking normally, and was starting to tremble all over. Having no money for an emergency vet, I gently tried to wash the residue off her coat as best I could. After, I let her lay in one of her favorite chairs. Sitting on the floor in front of the chair I fed her some treats from my hand, crying as I softly petted her with the other hand.
Then, I laid my head on the cushion next to her and sobbed away, thinking I was baby-sitting this precious, sweet kitty for the last time. The future seemed all dark and hopeless, as I tried in vain to imagine life without this darling, innocent, genius-kitty.
As the tortured hours crawled by she seemed to get a little worse, as did my emotional state. Her breathing became labored, and at one point, she reached out her trembling little hand to pet my cheek, and tried to get up to lick the tears from my face, but she couldn't. I wrapped my arms around her, and she purred as we warmed each other, waiting for the first light of dawn so I could try to get some help for my baby.
Dawn came at last, and I headed to the groomer first, to get the insecticide off her as quickly as possible. Her vet is about a forty-five minute drive away, in Huntsville, and I was desperate. I rapidly got Arianwen into her carrier, and we were at Pet Depot within minutes, ahead of Rebecca.
Rebecca seemed shocked upon seeing Arianwen, and offered to wash her before I even had a chance to speak. The warm water and washing seemed to help Arianwen a lot, as her breath came more freely and she trembled less. By the time the bath was over, her trembling had mostly subsided, and she was looking much better.
We rode to Huntsville, with Arianwen seeming to improve the whole way. When we arrived and got in an examining room, I freed her from her carrier. She hid under a bench seat, sort of predictable for a kitty who had just had a pretty horrible time.
But, when I said, "Arianwen, honey, why are you hiding? You are safe here.", she answered, in plain, very distinct English,"Man hurt!". Obviously referring to the painful vaccinations she got on her last vet visit. I reassured her that the man would not hurt her, and he was a good man who just wanted to make sure she was alright. She softly said, "Okay!", and climbed up onto counter to lay down. When the vet came in, she actually rolled over on her back and showed her tummy for the examination. Little sweet genius-kitty!
The veterinarian told me I probably saved her life, but that she was a healthy cat.
Arianwen talked to me almost the whole way home, but not as clearly as when she said, "Man hurt!".
The moral of the story is:
If you take your kitty to the groomer, and there are numerous dogs, but you don't see any cats, turn immediately around and find another groomer.