For the record, I did not witness any part of the actual event. I only became aware of Zoey’s miraculous escape from doom when Michael busted into my office/writing room around 7:30 yesterday evening with the cat tucked under one arm.
“You need to check Zoey for snakebite. I think she might have gotten bitten in the face.”
Mike was too rattled (heh, unintended pun there) to provide a calm account of the incident that had led us to this panic session. I heard him say the word “copperhead” which instantly caused my own blood pressure to shoot out my ears and perceive all other words out of his mouth as a garbled mess that sounded like, “copperhead, copperhead, copperhead, Zoey’s face!”
My world tilted wildly. Copperheads and my Zoey Kitteh do not operate in the same universe. Zoey Kitteh is my BABY. She is my spoiled, beloved, ridiculously-affectionate and chronically-overweight HOUSE CAT. She is not Rikki Tikki Tavi!
Shaking and beyond panic, I checked over every inch of her fuzzy body at least ten times, nose to tail, then back again. Zoey being Zoey – always full of calm, sweet-natured Zoeyness – purred loudly and generally let me do as I wished with only a minimum show of squirmy protest. No signs of snake bite. No injuries or sore places whatsoever. No sticky venom spray on her fur.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, oh great heavenly protector of overly curious cats!!!
Hours later, I was able to get the full story from Mike (who is still quite traumatized by the incident as he loves wild creatures of all types, but rather especially loves reptiles, and yet was forced to choose the safety of the domestic household pets over a remarkably non-aggressive venomous snake).
Here is what happened….
Although Zoey is supposed to be an indoor-only house cat, sometimes she outsmarts us and escapes. She doesn’t go far. We don’t live near a road. And we can always get her back by calling &/or shaking her food bag. So we’ve gotten very careless about letting her take the occasional nature walk. That is going to have to change.
Last night, Mike was cleaning and preparing our camping supplies for a much-anticipated trip to Cooper’s Creek. While he was going in and out of the house, Zoey slipped out for a late afternoon stroll around the property. I don’t think he even noticed she had gotten out. By chance, Mike decided to search the small barn behind our house for some piece of something he thought might be useful…as he passed near the huge woodpile that is out by the barn he heard a sudden, sharp rattle-rustle of leaves that he recognized instantly.
It was a snake’s warning to back off. But where was the snake and who was it warning?
When Mike looked over at the woodpile, there was Zoey face-to-face with a freaking Southern Copperhead snake. For her part, Zoey appeared absolutely calm and mildly curious. The snake was reared up and ready for combat, clearly warning her to BACK OFF, but it didn’t ever strike. Bless its cold snakey heart!
Now you KNOW I am no lover of venomous snakes, especially if you remember reading about this incident, but I will admit this copperhead was being remarkably controlled and non-aggressive. I can’t believe he didn’t bite my little feline nit-wit. For her part, Zoey was either hypnotized by the thing’s snakey charms or thought it was a fun new toy…or else she is incredibly stupid about snakes. (Mike votes for option #3).
Previously, I’ve only discussed Zoey as a turkey-obsessed glutton and a hater of Boo Radley so perhaps I need to give you a better impression. Here is the Zoey glamor shot I use as the wallpaper for my iPhone:
Zoey is a rescue cat from Nine Lives Cat Rescue. This incident probably constitutes the loss of one of her nine lives. Therefore, we believe she is now on life #3, as she was brought to Nine Lives near death from starvation. Despite her own sad state, she faithfully nursed her own litter of kittens until they were fully-weaned, healthy little fluff balls. Her kittens were quickly adopted by the kitten-loving public while Zoey sat in a cage and waited. When a single sickly, unweaned, orphaned kitten was brought to the rescue, Zoey turned foster mommy and nursed it back to health. The kitten, newly fat and happy thanks to Zoey’s milk of kindness, was quickly adopted.
Zoey continued to sit in a cage, now located at the PetSmart in Kennesaw, eating too much of the unlimited food and waiting, waiting, waiting…for months. I didn’t even see her on my first visit. She was probably curled up in a sleep ball at the back of her cage. That’s what months of adoption cage living does to even the best, most loving cats.
When I first decided to adopt a pet, what I truly wanted was a dog. But my lifestyle back then simply did not lend itself to dog ownership. So I visited the cat adoption cages at various local shelters and pet stores. On my first visit to Kennesaw’s PetSmart, I only had eyes for a matched paid of ADORABLE seal point Siamese sisters. But, their information indicated that they loved each other ONLY. No other pets would be tolerated in their household. Even though I lived alone and had no immediate plans for another pet, I didn’t want to make a 15-20 year commitment to two cats who would not tolerate other pets. Still…they were so beautiful! And maybe I was going to live alone forever at the rate I was going.
So I returned to PetSmart a week later during an adoption event. Zoey (who was inappropriately labeled as a “Lizzy”) was still curled in her sleep ball at the back of her cage, but her guardian angel was wide awake. When I explained my desire to find a feline companion who would tolerate other dogs and cats to the Nine Lives rescue lady, she immediately launched into Zoey’s (aka Lizzy’s) sad story. Then she pulled a muted calico fur ball out of a lower cage and dropped it into my arms. Then she promptly turned her back to answer someone’s question. Smart adoption lady!
Zoey gazed up at me with calm, sleepy yellow-green eyes while I held her in my arms like a baby. She let me rub her pudgy belly. She touched my face with her paw. Game over.
Zoey has been my best girlfriend through many lonely nights. She never complained when my tears dampened her fur. She was always thrilled to see me open the door. She was happy to snuggle with me for hours. Then we found ourselves in a strange new world…I had fallen in love and Zoey was no longer the center of my home universe. I’d say she handled it pretty well.
When she met Tessa (Mike’s dog), she submitted to the indignity of another pet with grace, as this couch snuggle shot clearly demonstrates:
When she met Mike (a self-identified dog lover who claims to have no special affinity for cats), she was a bit shy. But after a few weeks, Zoey snuggled up on his unsuspecting chest one night as we watched television, patted his face and looked deeply into his eyes.
Voice full of wonder, he said, “This is a very special cat. I feel like she knows who I am and she genuinely LIKES me.”
And that is the magic of Zoey Stardust Kitteh…who has an incredibly adept guardian angel in her corner.