Libby

D. E. Larsen, DVM

Our fascination with Silver Persians started in Enumclaw. The clinic had a client who raised Silver Persians and shipped kittens all over the country. She even had some international clients.

She lived in a large house. The people lived in the upper stories, and the cats, I don’t know how many, lived in the basement. When a litter of kittens was ready to ship to their new owners, the lady would bring them into the clinic to be bathed, fluffed, vaccinated, and whatever was needed.

These kittens were essentially feral. They had almost no human contact in their large basement living space. We always had to give them a small dose of ketamine so they could be handled.

“How many cats does Audrey have?” I asked Ann as she was bathing the last kitten.

“I’m afraid to ask,” Ann said. “We send out nearly a dozen litters a year. I have no idea what her basement must look like.”

“I’m not sure I would put up with this kind of work,” I said.

“It pays the bills,” Ann said. “You wait. When you have your clinic, you will have your share of cat ladies. They are everywhere.”

“How much does Audrey get for these kittens?” I asked. 

“She sells them for seven hundred dollars plus expenses,” Ann said.

“That is unbelievable,” I said. “That’s a month’s wages or a lot of people.”

“I think most of the people she sells these kittens to don’t have to worry about the money,” Ann said.

“I wonder what they think about paying that kind of money for a feral kitten?” I asked

“They probably can’t find kittens of this quality anywhere else,” Ann said. “And kittens this age tame down quickly.”

When Audrey came in to pick up her kittens, she had another cat in a carrier.

“I got this cat back,” Audrey said. “I sold it to a lady in London, and after its six months of quarantine, she could not get it tamed down. If you want to neuter it, you can have it. It is too old to sell, and I don’t have a situation to tame him down.”

I was quick to take her up on the offer. That evening, I neutered the young cat and declawed him at the same time. I taped his hind feet and took him home.

At the house, he was okay when he was in a box, but put him in an open room or try to handle him, and he would go wild. After a couple of days, we returned him to the clinic. Ann kept him in a cage for several months, and he tamed down and became an excellent clinic cat.

After moving to Sweet Home, we were excited when our babysitter, Jean Light, offered us a Silver Persian cat. Her mother had been given this cat by a friend who could not keep it. We were happy to accept Libby.

As a young cat, she fit into our household perfectly. It wasn’t long before the thought of having Persian kittens became a topic of discussion. Another friend, another Ann, offered us the use of a Persian tomcat that was being cared for by the local humane society.

We borrowed the tomcat when Libby came into heat, and our learning experience began. Libby was all claws when the tomcat showed her any interest.

“What are we going to do?” Sandy asked.

“Give her a few days, and nature will take its course,” I said.

The rest of the day and that evening, we were treated to any number of catfights in the living room. The other cats in the house were upset, also. This tomcat was not the most sociable individual.

That night, sometime after midnight, I woke with what I first thought was a headache. This tomcat had peed between the headboard of the bed and the wall. The odor was overwhelming. Sandy woke up shortly after I was awake.

In many cases, this would be no problem. One would just have to move the bed and clean up the urine. In our case, the process was a little complicated. We slept on a waterbed. It was a major operation to move the bed, even a couple of feet.

“What are we going to do now?” Sandy asked. 

“I think we are going to sleep on the hide-a-bed for tonight,” I said. “I can get up early and drain the waterbed mattress. Then we can clean up the mess and refill the mattress. I think we will position the bed a little further from the wall this time.”

The next day we cleaned up the mess and returned the tomcat to the humane society.

We learned that Libby found the wondering tomcats much more to her liking. A couple of months later, Libby gave us a litter of long-haired kittens who would grow into beautiful cats. Libby’s kittens became popular, and we allowed her to have several litters.

In her last litter, we kept a couple of her kittens. They were large fluffy cats named Chester and Howard.

After that last litter, I spayed Libby. 

After her spay, she became much less lovable. She hated to be groomed, to the point of being nothing but claws and teeth when someone would try to brush her.

Her hair would mat, and once or twice a year, she would make a trip to the clinic. I would sedate her and clip her hair coat, and she would go home mostly bald. Her hair coat would come off in one piece, like a sheep’s fleece.

As time went on, Libby became more and more antisocial. She began to live away from the house, only coming by for her meals a couple of times a day. She would spend the rest of the time in the neighbor’s small barn.

She started to have urinary tract infections, and medicating her was a monumental struggle. We would have to keep her in the clinic for weeks at a time. She would almost run to her barn when we would bring her home, and it was not long before her urinary tract infections progressed to kidney failure.

Libby did not survive long once she had kidney failure. I felt she was happy as a mother, and she lost her social self when that was taken away. Her legacy was in the beautiful kittens that survived many years beyond her.

Photo by Bianca Vogt on Pexels.

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

8 thoughts on “Libby

  1. I did not know you actually bred and raised cats for a while.

    You were lucky you did not get peed on directly. An old acquaintance from my IT days said his cat did not like his new wife and left a stool right on her head one morning. They woke up wondering where the odor was coming from, and then he looked at her head. A perfect deposit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Libby had three litters. I think we were out of the kitten raising by 1980. We did have a cousin stay overnight with us once. She was on a business trip to Salem. One of our cats, Charlie, peed in her shoe. I’m not sure she was able to get the odor out of the shoe before her meeting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Do not declaw a cat … really, just don’t. Why would you amputate a perfectly healthy toe-part? A few scratches come with a cat. It is forbidden in the EU since 2006 – which was long after you had that cat, I know. The world has moved on, the look at pets has changed, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was in 1975. Declawing was a common practice at that time. I soon learned that declawed cats became biters, and a cat bite is far worse than a scratch. In later years, I declawed only a very select group of cats. Those where the owner’s health status required it, usually because of blood thinners. And after 2000, it became a rare event indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I understand the need for owners on blood thinners. But then they would need a cat without teeth, too … like Merlin is. And as you said, it was another time.

        Like

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