I had been a teacher, so I knew that breaking up fights between students was not sane, especially "cat fights" between girls who emulated our feline friends by scratching and biting instead of merely punching and kicking. In my animal communication/holistic wellness/behavior practice, I would always advise distraction (small squirt gun, empty can with noisy coins inside, visual barrier) in cases of cat-to-cat aggression. But cat fights, when they involve WWF quality attacks and the feline version of trash talk - yowling, spitting, and wailing that shreds the nerves of the most stalwart human companion - provoke insane reactions in the humans who love and want to protect them. Like the plumber who fails to fix her own leaky toilet, I did the absolute worst thing. I stepped in, picked up one of the little darlings, and tried to calm him down by cuddling him. Mommy would make everything okay.
Animals, like people, act badly when they are fearful, confused, or threatened. Tony, the newest of our adopted/rescued sextet, was struggling to be accepted, and no one would play with him. He often overstepped. So, already stressed, he panicked and clamped down on my left arm, and I sprang back, yowling and semi-hysterical, escalating his anxiety even further by yelling, "Whyyyyy did you hurrrttt Mommeeee?!?!?!" Then, the biologist in me retreated and I nursed the arm instead of racing to the local medical professionals for treatment. I'm a fast healer, so the two puncture wounds and several small scratches closed quickly, trapping the tiny organisms who proceeded to multiply exponentially and spread throughout the tissues. After 36 hours, three Alleve capsules, numerous compresses, several essential oils massaged into the skin, and a whiskey followed by a white wine, it was time to face facts - nothing had dented the pain, and it felt like I'd broken my arm.
At my father-in-law's birthday dinner, I stoically held my whiskey glass full of ice against the swollen arm, until my sister-in-law, an experienced nurse, took one look at it and commanded me to get to the emergency room, fast! Instead, I finished dinner, had my husband take me to the local Walgreen's, and asked the pharmacist for a recommendation. She also took one look at my arm and commanded me to get to the ER, immediately! Sinces the evening clinics were closing in five minutes, that was my only option. Dropping my husband at home, I donned martyr's robes and huffily insisted that I would drive myself to the ER, where it was apparently the busiest night of the year.
I lost track of the number of medical professionals who passed through my little room, until Dr. Somebody provided the diagnosis - full-blown cellulitis. I would be sent to a "room upstairs" for overnight observation and however many courses of antibiotics it would take to ensure that the bugs were beaten. I protested, as I was scheduled to drive to Louisville the following morning to attend a professional women's conference, including my first meeting as a member of the advisory board, and my first book signing. The doctor calmly stared me down and flatly stated that, left untreated, cellulitis could kill me. Priorities changed.
The television in my room wasn't working, and the engineer was called at 1:30 a.m. to ensure that I had entertainment. HIPAA laws were ignored by caregivers trundling portable tech stations who loudly interviewed me while my elderly roommate and her clan of boisterous visitors partied behind the curtain dividing our room. I was provided with menus and gluten free meals. Two nights passed, with my roommate making unintelligible noises, because the staff would not give her the sleeping pill she requested, and she didn't speak much English. I had an unplanned rest and practiced wheeling my intravenous bags to the bathroom - my only exercise.
I didn't tell anyone in my family about the incident, certain that they would reiterate that I had too many cats and had acted stupidly. This, I already knew. Upon release, I returned home, grateful for a shower, and nursed the arm while taking probiotics with the antibiotics, so that the beneficial bacteria would be replaced and my digestive system wouldn't be compromised. My cat was heartily sorry, and I forgave him. I'm thinking about buying a pair of the leather gloves animal control officers and shelter staff use when they handle animals with potential "issues" in uncertain situations. Or, I could just walk away and let the cats sort things out for themselves, instead of trying to break up any future cat fights. And I think I'll set up the diffuser again and pump a little "Peace and Calming" essential oil blend into the house. It might keep the environment serene, until Tony can convince one of the other cats to "play" with him. And I'm glad I don't have daughters; breaking up cat fights is clearly not my forte.
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