Slinky Malinki is a character in a well-loved children’s book by author Lynley Dodd. Slinky is “a cat as black as midnight with a kink in his tail.”
Our beloved Slinky is a shiny black cat, too, with a kink in her tail. The resemblance, however, ends there. Dodd’s character is a “thief in the night;” bold and adventurous. Our Slinky spent the last two years hiding in the garden, afraid of her own shadow, and everything else. The paradigm shift happened today.
In recent months, Slinky in the garden finally became a house cat, venturing outside for five or ten minutes a day, but otherwise spending her day asleep at my feet under the desk. She’s come a long way from the cat we first knew. She used to swat and bite, refusing all attempts at affection. Gradually I’ve figured out ways to stroke her chin, avoiding the business end of her claws. As she spent more and more time indoors, I started to wonder if her hearing might be impaired. I would call her with her back turned without a response. Was she hard of hearing or simply aloof? I wondered if poor eyesight might by the reason she swung at me with my hand extended. Perhaps she was once mistreated, learning to distrust human hands.
The Paradigm Shift
We saw the vet today and here’s what we learned: The kitty we thought was three to five years old is probably in her teens. They ordered a geriatric blood panel, the last thing I expected on today’s visit. Slinky is hard of hearing, picking up some sounds but definitely hearing-impaired. She doesn’t see well either and things will likely get worse.
Our wonderful vet was decidedly upbeat. I’m grateful there are people in the world like her. Results from the lab work will be back tomorrow.
I’ve thought about the time we shared in the garden, Slinky and me. She tentatively rounded the corner each day, then kept a watchful eye on the proceedings. Any sudden move and she was out of their lickety split. She ran from my outstretched hand. One day Slinky gave me a gentle headbutt, a clear sign of cat affection. I knew at last we had turned a corner together.
If cats could talk, she would have her own tales to tell. A Haiku:
lived more winters than I knew.
Safe and warm at last.