Saturday, December 4, 2010

Twenty-One and Counting (The Amazing Aquacat)

Aquacat II
 Two years ago some VOKRA volunteers trapped a pregnant cat whom they named Maddy. She had six kittens on December 10, 2009, but Maddy had a horrible case of coccidia, and four of them died very soon after they were born.

The two survivors were a little girl, who was named Sapphire, and a boy with pale, yellow fur who was called Lemon.

Now, Sapphire seemed just fine as the kittens were growing up, but little Lemon wasn't learning how to walk properly. He used his front legs like crutches, and he dragged his back legs along behind himself. He kept falling over, but he kept right on trying. Finally, he learned to put his back feet down on their heels, and he turned his toes out so that he had training wheels (of a sort). Lemon still fell, but now he could go further and faster than he could before.

We think that Maddy had distemper when she was pregnant, and that Lemon's cerebellar hypoplasia was the result. That meant that the part of his brain that controls his motor skills was underdeveloped - or if you like, he had problems with his drive train. There is nothing wrong with his higher brain - Lemon might not pass his university entrance exams on the first try, but I bet a few of us didn't. 

When the Tall Lady and I met him, his name had been changed to Lennon. Some of the people at VOKRA felt that the name Lemon implied that the kitten was a lemon, and that it would compromise his chances for adoption. But he was Lemon when we first heard about him, and that's what we kept right on calling him, much to Karen Duncan's frustration.

Lemon the Conqueror
Because Lemon was a kitten, Xena and Brie hated him. Because he moved differently, and was as likely as not to trip and fall on them, they hated him even more. He stumbled and fumbled, he rolled and he tumbled, but eventually he got where he'd planned to go - though sometimes not in a timely fashion. We learned pretty quickly that it was a good idea to pick him up and put him in his litterbox if he was headed that way. Sometimes he appreciated the assistance, other times he resented the interference. He missed the mark occasionally, but he always gave it his best effort.

Every day he was with us, he worked and played hard, and he got stronger and steadier. He also just kept on getting nicer. In time, Karen negotiated a course of physiotherapy for him. A young woman named Jacqueline Gibson had volunteered her time, talent and facilities to VOKRA. She has had wonderful success with a good number of injured and otherwise disabled dogs, but Lemon would be her first feline client. Jacqueline's company was called Aquapaws Hydrotherapy Inc, and thus was born the Amazing Aquacat.

The Amazing Aquacat
Lemon and Jacqueline had four sessions together. He loved her, but he hated the big swimming pool in her basement. Every Tuesday afternoon, she would put on her wetsuit, and she and our pleasant, even-tempered hero would have a half hour swim. Every Tuesday, Lemon would paddle and kick for a few minutes longer with Jacqueline's supporting hand under his chest, until he was eventually swimming like an otter as well as howling like a banshee. But every Tuesday after we left her, poor Jacqueline would rub her swollen eyes and scratch at the welts on her arms where her skin had been exposed to his fur.

You see, Jacqueline was allergic to cats, so four sessions were all that she could handle. That was quite all right with our boy - he'd already decided that he was allergic to hydrotherapy.

Lemon had a couple of people who were interested in adopting him, but when they saw him, they decided quite fairly that he'd be more than they could handle. When Mary and Percy met him, though, it was love at first sight.

Lemon is now spoiled, pampered, cosseted and adored - everything that he deserves. My friend Margo asked me the other day if Lemon was my favourite. A good foster parent doesn't have favourite children, I told her. All of them are equally loved and treated fairly and impartially.

I think Margo can tell when I'm lying.

Happy Birthday, Lemon,
Have a wonderful day!


  1. Lemon's fan club grows every day. Thank you so much for caring about him.

  2. Yes indeedy! Thanks for caring for Lemon in the early days! I am in love with him too, now... even though it kills me to see him falter.. and fall... MY remedy for that was to playto be able to focus and hit the mark. He can leap, pounce and move quickly on target when its a toy he's after.. Yup. he's adorable and I'm smitten ...
    Sue (former neighbour and sometimes visitor of Lemon when ma and pa were out)

  3. Lemon is my hero!