By Debra L. Stitt QEagle@aol.com
October 2, 2006, was a day not unlike any other. I had worked late and was looking forward to a relaxing evening at home. Whenever I arrive at home, my four beautiful cats meet me at the door. There’s nothing quite like that greeting! Little did I know, however, where God would be taking me that night. He had me going on a very special journey and I didn’t even know it. My four at home would have to wait. (To enlarge the photo of Chance, click on the photo or link)
Right around 8:15 PM, I turned on some jazz in my car and started on my usual route -- the same four-lane road I so comfortably travel every day. Just about 100 yards or so before reaching the entrance ramp to the freeway, I saw a kitty on my side of the road and I remember thinking, “Please God, no.” But, before I knew it, it was too late. My fear became reality as I witnessed the kitty dart out into traffic and escape one car in front of me . . . but not the next which was heading in the opposite direction. My heart sank. A minivan struck the kitty head on, pulling him under the van. I watched in horror as the cat bounced between the pavement and the bottom of the vehicle until the van completely passed over him without stopping. He finally came to rest in the center lane heading in the opposite direction – and he wasn’t moving, except for a single tail twitch. There was a lot more traffic coming in both directions and all I could do was pray that everyone would go around him. Amazingly, the other cars somehow missed him (two lanes in each direction).
I stopped as quickly as I could, turned on my flashers and anxiously waited for traffic to go around me. Time seemed to stand still. Once clear, I darted out into the street, scooped up the seemingly lifeless body of the kitty and kept on running to the other side of the road. I gently laid him in the grass on the tree lawn. Initially unconscious, I found, gratefully, that he was alive! I ran back to my car to get a towel in which to wrap him. By the time I got back to him, he was very frightened and was pulling himself around in circles on the grass trying to get up -- but couldn't. He was bleeding from his nose and eyes. He was also hissing, which was music to my ears. He was a fighter! I needed to calm him as quickly as possible and the towel was the perfect tool. I had no idea the extent of his injuries so I needed to proceed with caution. I quickly covered him, including his face, and wrapped him up so that he couldn’t further injure himself, or me. The whole time, I was trying to figure out how in the world I was going to keep him still while driving so that I could get him to the hospital, any hospital that was open.
I got the injured and scared kitty back to my car. Once I laid him on the
passenger seat, he seemed to settle down (still completely wrapped up in my
towel). I then started driving and called 411 (on my “hands-free, voice
activated” cell phone) asking for the number for the Emergency Animal Clinic,
only to find that they wouldn't accept strays without someone taking full
financial responsibility -- the other alternative offered was one I don't even
want to talk about. Since I refused their second offer, I was instructed to take
him to another animal hospital that was open until 1:00 AM. Unfortunately, the
Emergency Clinic gave me the wrong directions to the other hospital and I passed
it up. At this point, I thought I was going to lose the kitty as he was
hyperventilating and seemed to be struggling to breathe. I knew time was running
out. I was now desperate to calm him. It seemed the more I talked to him (or on
the phone), the more reassured he was. He responded positively to "kissing
sounds" so I just kept it up the whole time. I rested my hand on him and tried
to keep him calm while driving with the other. I called 411 again, got myself
turned around and found the hospital. I pulled in, left my purse, ran around to
the other side of the car, scooped him up without moving him too much and rushed
in with him. Once inside, I did a quick, but gentle, handoff to the technician
who then scurried off into the back.
Several minutes went by and my heart was pounding. All kinds of thoughts and
questions were racing through my mind. Had I handled him properly? Did I get him
proper care in time? Did I cause him further injury? Finally, I see a young,
caring doctor emerge to give me some news. The vet was great, and very kind! He
said he was going to keep the kitty in the hospital and treat him but wasn’t
authorized to do "full-blown diagnostics" (x-rays, blood work, etc.) unless
someone took complete financial responsibility. He said his initial exam had
revealed no broken bones. However (I hated that “however”), the diagnosis was
questionable as the kitty's pupils were blown and uneven, which wasn't a good
sign, and he was still bleeding from his nose and eyes. In fact, he had sneezed
while being examined and blood blew out of his nose. The vet said the first
course of treatment was to give the kitty medication that would stop the
swelling in his brain, administer pain meds and put him in his own space in
intensive care where he would be closely monitored. I gave them all of my contact
information and asked if I could see him before I left. While they continued
their treatment and got him settled, I gathered as many names of no-kill
shelters and rescue organizations as I could that might help with his
post-hospital care. I was allowed to see him before I left and he responded to
me (I think my scent more than anything). He obviously had a HUGE headache but
he was "talking" to me. Not happy, but talking.
After I got home, I called the animal hospital to tell them to go ahead with
additional diagnostic tests and I'd find a way to pay for it. Much to my
surprise, the vet gave me great news and suggested we hold off on additional
testing. He said it appeared I had gotten the kitty there in time -- the sooner
you get the anti-inflammatory into them, the better their chances are because
you stop the swelling before it becomes irreversible. The bleeding had stopped
and his pupils were stabilizing. He was sitting up and wasn't leaning in one
direction or the other, which is a good sign that he wasn’t suffering any
permanent neurological damage. The next test was to see if he'd nibble at any
food or drink any water, which wasn’t expected that night. And, the best news of
all, the vet said that he would treat him as if he were brought in by any
After a restless night, and many phone calls, I was eager to check on the kitty. I got great news again! He had made it through the night, which was a miracle in and of itself. At that moment, I told them to put the name "Chance" on his chart and cage. We definitely weren’t out of the woods, but it was beginning to look like the kitty was going to get another chance at life! I then went to see him that day!
|(Photo - 01) Here's a picture of Chance taken the morning after his accident. As you can see, his eyes are almost swollen shut and his mouth is a little bit open helping him breath. You can see the dark spot between his eyes and on his forehead -- this is bruising that you can see through his fur!|
In addition to the obvious head trauma, it was determined that Chance had some other issues. He had a very bad case of Coccidia (an intestinal parasite) which needed to be treated, as well as needing to be neutered if we had any hope of finding him a home. With his delicate condition, we had to tackle one thing at a time.
After one week, Chance had gained over one pound. Nine days after the accident, there were no longer any outward signs of the head trauma he suffered so his surgery took place. He still wasn’t allowed to romp around much, but he was getting time to stretch his legs in the "cat play room." Within 1-1/2 weeks, he graduated to the "kennel" area of the hospital where he had his own multi-level enclosure. He was also allowed out to play. At this point, he hadn't "sprayed" either which was music to my ears since I would be fostering him! The medication for his Coccidia was starting to work.
(Photo - 02)
Here's a picture of Chance nine days after the accident. He's still in the
hospital but as you can see, his little face is getting back to normal.
His eyes are wide open and he's "curious."
|(Photo - 03) Here's another picture of Chance from October 11, nine days after the accident. He had gained about 1.2 lbs. since the accident -- a good sign that his Coccidia medication was working.|
|(Photo - 04) This photo is a tiny bit blurry but is so cute. This is another photo from nine days after the accident (and two days after his surgery). He is still in the hospital. This is the point where his personality was starting to emerge -- a good sign that he was getting better.|
His last day of medication would be Wednesday morning, October 18, when he would be officially allowed to leave the hospital. I had started the "integration" process with our other kitties several days earlier by scenting towels and letting everyone get to know each other by smell. By the time he would come into our home, their individual scents would be familiar.
After about two weeks, and a much more alert Chance, I looked into his beautiful little face and saw a new "sparkle" that had been missing. When the technicians came to take him back to his space that day, he reached out for me like a child letting us know that he was mentally ready! There was a big, "Awwww" from the staff. Chance was in the hospital for about 2-1/2 weeks.
|(Photo - 05) It's hard to keep a good kitty down. LOL This is Chance within a day of getting him home. He was so curious that it was hard to get a good photograph of him. In this one, he wants so badly to follow me that he's ready to bolt.|
Today, chance is doing GREAT. He came home with us on Wednesday evening, October 18, 2006. After a few days in his own room (which he quickly learned to love), he graduated to supervised visits with our other four furry children. In our absence, he would go back in his room. They are all getting along surprisingly well. A few soft hisses and under-the-breath growls are really about all we encountered.
|(Photo - 06) Chance settles in!|
One last challenge emerged -- some possible nasal damage from the run-in with the minivan. Chance sounds like he’s got a stuffy nose all of the time. It could be that his nasal passages simply have some residual swelling, or he has some dried blood that hasn’t yet cleared. Obviously, this will be monitored and attended to. Other than that, he's full of energy (tons!), curiosity, smarts and love. He's a joy! And, if you haven’t guessed by now, he’s become our 5th furry child and a permanent part of the family!
|(Photo - 08) Chance isn't in this picture, but here are two of his sisters, Roxy & Sophie, and his brother, Cooper, to the right.|
|(Photo - 09) This is Cooper and Chance taking a breather from their heavy play time on 10/31/06. Cooper was also a rescued cat and his story appears on the All-Creatures site: Cooper is Adopted into a Loving Family.|
|(Photo - 10) Here's a picture of Chance's other sister, Becca. Again, he's not in the picture with her, but this gives you an idea of the new family he became a part of.|
Chance's favorite activity (besides cuddles and tummy rubs) -- playing! He
has found the "toy basket" and toys are a flyin’. He literally pulls all of the
toys out of the basket and rolls around in them. He grabs them and throws them
around until he finds a favorite. He then carries the toys into the kitchen
where he can slide around with them on the floor. I don't think he ever had
When I scooped Chance out of that four-lane street that night, I had no idea
what we were facing. I just knew he deserved a "chance." I didn't even know
where to go with him; I just knew I had to go "somewhere." He looked like he was
dead but I needed to be sure. And even if he was dead, I just couldn't leave him
in the middle of the road -- he deserved better than that. God definitely had me
right where I needed to be at the exact time I needed to be there.
Many might say that Chance was blessed that night but in reality, I am the
one that was blessed. Every story like this shows people that there's hope. We
should never assume that there isn't a "chance." My journey with Chance has
humbled me with the knowledge that God truly entrusts us with His own. Chance
would never have survived without human intervention. God provides us with
opportunities to make a difference and to witness to those that would otherwise
be closed to His message. Chance is truly a miracle!
For all of you that have experienced a life-changing rescue, I'm sure you feel the same excitement as I. Many I speak with think Chance is the one that received the gift. I know differently -- it was I that received.
Chance's final follow up visit - 1 Nov 2006
Chance had his follow-up visit with the doctor today (11/1/06). They couldn't
believe he was the same cat that left the hospital two weeks ago. He's doing so
well that his body has started taking care of his fur and skin, which doesn't
happen until all other things in the body become healthy. His coat is extremely
soft, resilient and shiny. The vet said, frankly speaking, that fur and skin are
considered luxury items to ailing animals as all energy is spent on maintaining
life first. So, the fact that his fur and skin are so healthy is a real tribute
to his strength and will. Chance has also gained a little over three pounds
since he was rescued 30 days ago -- and he's still a trim kitty.
They checked his nose and lungs for the breathing problem I detected and said
they don't feel there's anything wrong that will not correct itself at this
point. The good news is that his lungs are PERFECT and it's probably just some
residual swelling that will eventually go down!
All in all, Chance was given a clean bill of health and was VERY happy to get back home!
|(Photo - 11) My boys, Chance and Cooper, taking a break from two full hours of INTENSE play time. After less than 2-1/2 weeks, they've become inseparable!|
(Photo - 12) Debra and Cooper, when he was younger.
|(Photo - 13) Cooper and Chance: Not only were Chance on Cooper both on the same shelf of the "Tower of Power," but they turned and posed for me just perfectly. Cooper has his arm around Chance and if you look closely, he even looks like he's smiling. I think this is one of those, "He's My Brother" shots.|
|(Photo - 14) Cooper and Chance|
|(Photo - 15) Becca and Chance|
|(Photo - 16) Sophie (on the move), Becca, Chance & Cooper|
26 December 2006 update
Many of you on the list have been following Chance's story (A ‘Chance’ in a
Lifetime – A True Miracle - ). I haven't updated the list lately and wanted to
take this opportunity to let you know how much of a witnessing opportunity he
has been for me. But first, an update on Chance.
Chance was acting a little odd for a couple of days at the end of November
and I had planned on taking him back to the doc to get him checked out. Turns
out, he shouted very loudly at me that something was wrong. I woke up one
morning to find that he had spent at least an hour during the night orally
expelling worms around the house. They were EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately, the
roundworms didn't show up in the test they did before releasing him from the
hospital on October 18th -- they were still incubating in his lungs. So, off to
the doc we went with our little brown bag of evidence. Thankfully, roundworm is
the easiest to treat (just one dose of medication). So we treated Chance on the
spot and got four extra syringes for the kitties at home who were treated right
after I walked through the door. I took another brown bag back to the doc about
12 days later to be retested and he was negative. Our other four just had their
yearly check up and all is clear.
Chance and Cooper are closer than ever. They are true buddies. The other
three (my ladies) have joined in the fun when they can. Chance is now a healthy
14 pounds (he was a scant 8 pounds when I rescued him on October 2nd). He is a
happy, healthy, cuddly boy who spends most of his waking hours playing. When he
tuckers everyone else out, he's off playing by himself. When he tuckers out, he
literally "plops" himself down on me and next to me and snores away (yes, he
Chance's story has touched so many hearts and opened so many eyes. Being able to talk with people about the fact that these babies can survive the worst and deserve a second chance at life has been a joy. There are always a lot of questions which leads the conversation in many directions. Most people aren't aware of all of the help that is available and how a little soul can change their lives. He is a true mascot of hope!
It's been a while since I sent any new shots of our precious rescue, Chance.
I wish I could get this to go through to the list. Here's a candid shot I caught
of Chance on 2/17/07 when I found him sleeping in a tall narrow box containing
three shoe boxes (a tight fit for him). I don't know how he got in it without
tipping it over but here he is, balanced and expressing his sleepiness.
I still say that he is an absolute blessing. I was meant to be there the
night he was hit by that mini-van. What a doll baby he is.
He is one very healthy, happy, jolly and gentle boy. And a comedian as well. LOL There's not one aggressive or mean bone in his body! The box he's in has a length greater than that of a shoe box, as he's sitting atop three of them inside the shipping box. If you really put everything in perspective and look at his paws and upper body, he's one very naturally big boy! He's not at all fat and is weighing in at about 17 lbs. (9 lbs. more than when I scooped him out of the street on October 2, 2006.
2 October 2007 Update
Today is Chance's birthday -- or his "designated" birthday, anyway. Can you believe it? It's been one full year since I scooped his little behind out of the street. When I took him to the hospital they estimated him to be about two years old so I say that he's three today.
I have two pictures for you that are attached. As you'll see, he's not so little -- and he's always VERY busy! I woke him up to get these shots and it only took him a minute to get into "I want to play" mode. Isn't he just a doll baby. And a happy one to boot!
I wanted you to see the difference from one year ago to today.
I couldn't help but share this oh-so-cute picture of Chance. He's come such a
long way. This picture is kind of appropriate. He had an uphill battle and here
you see him on the top step of the stool. He's so big he's using his left leg to
balance himself on top. (Photo - 20)
This was taken with my camera phone so the color is just a bit off.
24 August 2008 - Update
(Photo - 22) Chance in his box BEFORE it gave out. Please note, however, the back, left corner and the bowed right side.
(Photo - 21) Well, he finally went and did it . . . busted out of his favorite shoe box. He just didn't understand that a small shoe box cannot forever contain a 16+ pound kitty.
Here is a recent picture (7/11/10) (Photo - 23). He's laying with Becca, one of our other four, who he routinely flirts and wrestles with. Look at the love in those eyes! And, for the record, he's HUGE! Becca is an average size cat and Chance is almost double her size. He's not fat, he's just big ... and, of course, happy!
Ohhh, what they bring to our lives!!!!
1 May 2012 Update
I haven't written in a while about my miracle boy, Chance. He's doing so well. Can you believe it will be six years in October? How time flies.
Here's a picture from today at 12:50 PM (Eastern) at our home in FL. This is one of Chance's favorite napping spots in FL. It's under the TV in the living room. The pet pad he's on is about 30" long so, yes, he's my BIG baby! He's thriving.
As many of you know, we split our time between Ohio and Florida. All five of the cats have adjusted well to both the travel, and the home in FL. They know exactly where they are in each place and tend to sleep most of the way on the drive back and forth. The anxiety that they used to experience is much more under control at this point. They don't necessarily like the trip, but they understand it.
Thanks for allowing me to share!