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2008-10-22 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Cyrus: An Alternative Black Cat Tale for Halloween
by Joanne Anderson

There's power a-plenty in a purr. As little "Cyrus", a dime-a-dozen black kitten, lay in the road with two broken legs, he purred loudly, despite his pain. He hadn't a clue that his mile-a-minute motor would attract a parade of kind people, including the veterinary specialists who would perform his surgery without charge. He had no idea his purring would ultimately save his life.

Little Cyrus with his "achy, breaky" legs is quite the kitty. It is true that cats sometimes purr when distressed, even as they are dying, but the vibrations emanating from Cyrus are something more- a welcome, a thank you, a request to keep loving him as much as he loves you.

Last month Patricia Houlihan and her daughter came upon an odd sight- three kittens in the middle of a busy Babylon Village street. Actually the siblings, also solid black, were hovering around their injured brother. When Babylon Town Shelter Animal Control Officer Kristin arrived, she told them that the kitten's pelvis was most likely crushed by a car, and chances were little could be done to save him. However, Kristin couldn't get over how friendly he was, purring throughout his terrifying ordeal.

Cyrus Cyrus It was doubtful an owner would come to the shelter to claim a lost litter. I've never known that to happen with puppies or kittens. Cyrus couldn't walk. Both hind legs seemed shattered. Usually severe cases like this are "put down" right away for humane reasons. The odds were stacked against this run-of-the- mill black kitten. Yet, that persistent purr convinced the shelter to send him to the vet to investigate the extent of his injuries.

[A paw note before mentioning the compassionate doctors by name: At times animal hospitals perform pro bono work on strays but these good deeds are usually kept under wraps. If the word gets out, the floodgates open; no clinic could survive financially if they honored every request for free help. Even when considering paid-in-full vet care, dogs, owned as well as stray, are more apt to be the recipients of extensive surgery. All this makes the Cyrus saga even more fortuitous.]

Just so happens Cyrus's purr touched the staff at New York Veterinary Specialist Center in Farmingdale too. His pelvis wasn't broken but both rear legs were. As luck would have it, right now the Center has several surgical interns so the kitten's complex fractures presented a unique teaching opportunity. Dr. Allan Carb and Dr. Arnold Lesser, both highly skilled orthopedic surgeons, gave permission for the surgeons in training to proceed.

One of the interns, Dr. Patrick Maguire here from Australia, told me that Cyrus was an excellent candidate to recoup full mobility because at only about 17 weeks old, his bones were still growing. While Dr. Carb supervised, he and Dr. Ashok Padmanabhan repaired right tibial fractures with crossed wires plus a cast for extra support and fixed a left femur fracture with wires and an IM pin through the marrow hollow of the bone. They also neutered him. This total procedure normally costs several thousand dollars.

Two days later, still purring, Cyrus returned to Babylon with pain meds and antibiotics. Shelter vet tech Dina supported him when he attempted to use his litter box. She took him home for that crucial first weekend. He was starting to manage but needed a recuperative foster home so Last Hope Animal Rescue intervened.

The sweet but ordinary looking kitten continued to impress all who heard his story. A vet in Connecticut offered to take him until he recovered. Several more caring folks answered the plea. Presently Cyrus is in the best of hands. To my ecstatic surprise- Bonnie Gaines, Last Hope

web manager and cat coordinator, the friend who posted the request said she would foster him. At her home Cyrus has cat buddies and oodles of TLC including private playtime and comfy confinement so he doesn't start jumping. He has made miraculous progress. After a month his vets removed the wires in his right leg. The left is not as strong yet. He goes back for more x-rays this week. The pin and wire may have to stay permanently in his femur. Even though the vets warned he might be stiff or limp, Mr. Purrfect is

reaching on his hind legs and walking with no problem. Raring to go and waiting for the medical clearance: "Gentle cat, start your engine", vibrating Cyrus continues to rev it up non-stop. As soon as allowed, Cyrus will zoom; he'll be ready for adoption too. Contact Last Hope at cyrus@lasthopeanimalrescue. org or 631-661-6164.

Meanwhile his foster Mom Bonnie calls Cyrus "a total doll and a purr machine. To know him is to love him." Ironically, this fortunate feline would never have been noticed if it weren't for his perpetual purr. Oops- almost forgot. Speaking of lucky black cats-his brother and sister, now spayed, neutered and vet checked, live in Levittown with Patricia Houlihan's niece.

For Adoption: Many more cats and kittens are waiting for homes too at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon including "Patches" a tuxedo in C-5 and "Puff" in C-5, a semi-longhaired tabby kitten. Our poster dogs are just as needy. "Jeffrey" is a big, good- natured Shepherd mix in Cage 35 whose fly-bitten ears and calloused elbows give hints of a hard life, while

"Vesti la giubba", posing as a clown, "Ms. Pagliacci" is a wonderful middle-aged Min Pin in P-3. She'd be singing a happier aria with a family of her own. Male: a shy Pomeranian Cage 33; "Spike" small Dobie mix Cage 24; "Panda" Cage7- looks like his name. Female: "Hallie" blue-eyed Pit Cage 38; "Sheena"-Shepherd/ Collie Cage 44; Shepherd mix pup Cage 42. Halloween Pet Photo

Fundraiser: Bring your pet (costume optional) to Viewpoint Photography Studio 88 Green St. Huntington Village on Oct. 31 from 11 am to 5 pm for a photo shoot. $20; proceeds benefit Last Hope. More info: www.viewpointphotography.com or 631-421-1238. No appt. necessary.

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