You should sit down.
No, really, you should.
Last night, at 11:37, Lala burst into our room. I was sound asleep. She yelled, "Rachael! GET UP NOW! You need to come out here!"
My reaction was "WE DON'T HAVE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER!" but I was still sleep-unverbal, so I think I said something more like, "Wha? The hell?"
She said, still dragging me, that nothing was wrong but that I had to come RIGHT NOW. I decided if she was going to show me something on the internet I would f*&king kill her.
But no. She led me into the kitchen and showed me what was on the floor.
My boy. My beloved man-cat, who disappeared FOUR MONTHS ago. End of February, beginning of March. Fifteen WEEKS ago. Eulogized here. Love of my life, huge piece of my heart, part of ME, one of the best parts of me, my crotchety cranky baby-cat who was BACK.
Sitting, no, swaying on the kitchen floor.
Lala said she'd heard him crying at the back door, as he always did, just as she was getting ready to turn in. She'd had to check his feet for the extra toes before she believed it was really him.
I dropped to my knees, and he started to purr, even though he could barely raise his head. I was crying the second I saw him, and shaking seconds after that. I've had six or seven dreams since he "died" in which he showed up, was just there, and I looked up at Lala and told her to tell me I wasn't dreaming. She said I wasn't.
She ran around and did all the things I couldn't do, got water, got two kinds of food, got towels.... I couldn't let him go, couldn't stop crying, couldn't stop touching him everywhere, trying to figure out what the hell had happened to him.
See, that cat and me, well, we're a pair. I'm his heart, and he's mine. He always comes back, always makes his way back. I knew he hadn't run away, because he's a one-man cat, and I'm that one man. We sleep paw-in-hand. I might be the only thing he loves besides his freedom.
I felt him everywhere -- no immediate signs of trauma or a car accident -- he could support weight on all four legs, although he had no strength. One eye was gummed shut, but I could see the eye was still there, and when pried open, looked like it had vision. His back end, always a problem for a tranny-cat with crystal issues, was a horrible stinking horror that I won't describe for the sake of your fair sensibilities.
It was midnight, and I had two choices -- I could take him to the emergency vet, an automatic four hundred bucks just to enter the doors, and they'd transfer him to our vet when they opened at 7:30am. Or I could let him sleep, at home, where he'd finally made it. I chose the latter, and made him a bed on the couch, where he seemed to be content to rest. But when I got up to check on him half-an-hour later, he was in the hall, as close as he could get to me without coming in the bedroom. I spent hours out there in the night, just holding his paw and trying to figure out what had happened.
We were at the vet at 7:30 this morning, and the best we can figure is one of two things: He got caught in someone's basement, someplace with water and an occasional mouse, but that wouldn't explain the pads on his feet being so worn. What I think is more likely is that someone "humanely" trapped him as a seeming stray (O Digit who broke out of a collar in two days or less, every time) and took him far, far away and released him (a kindness, sometimes, when the only shelters around are kill-zones). And he's been wandering, trying to get home for almost four months.
He's lost half his weight, from sixteen pounds to eight. He weighs less that Miss Idaho. His rear end is a nightmare and needs surgery (partly because he hasn't been eating his expensive prescription cat food for months, and partly because flies are a bad, bad thing). His bladder is hard, as if it's full of stones, and the doctor can't hear his heart, which he and I both found strange. (It is possibly that I love him so much that I got his zombie back instead). He is severely dehydrated, and can't have surgery until he's stabilized, and I feel like such an asshole for taking him right to the vet, where he'll have to stay for days, when all he wanted was to come home. Makes me feel like I made the right decision to keep him at home last night.
But the doc thinks we might get him to a place where he can fight back, and if anyone can, my Digit can. Of course, he's gonna be PISSED when he finds out about the kittens I saved in his name. And even though this might be overkill, when he gets better (I hope I hope I hope I wish I wish I pray he gets better), he will be kept inside. And if he turns into the cat from hell, which he will, demanding to get out, he will be chipped (already in the works), and he will wear two collars at all times. I'm not kidding. The other cats will make fun, but he will wear two collars. And maybe an orange CalTrans vest.
I'm beside myself with joy. And worry. I can't lose him again, not just yet. I had JUST gotten to the point where I could say his name without breaking down. But mostly joy.
Also, I went to Long's after the vet, and bought not one, but two fire extinguishers.
O, joy. My heart lives.