Thurston’s better and all is well.

At least we hope.

Our large, 4-year-old orange-and-white feline gave us another scare this week.

The normally active, energetic and happy cat wasn’t himself.

Instead of meowing to go out, he’d glance at the door and walk away.

Thurston, a lover of cat food, became disinterested.


Thurston, at left, and Bitsy wait patiently for breakfast Friday. Thurston’s owners, columnist Amy Calder and her husband, grew concerned when the feline recently fell ill. Thurston recovered but didn’t show much appreciation for all the extra care and attention. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

We keep a plastic cup on the bathroom counter labeled “Thurston,” which we replenish frequently with cold, fresh water at his insistence. A few days ago he stopped asking.

All he did was look at us blankly, lie on the floor and sleep.

After the second day, I called our vet, Dr. Smith. My husband Phil drove Thurston to the clinic and returned home.

We waited for a call.

Like anxious parents, we watched the clock, worried, imagining all sorts of scenarios and second-guessing ourselves. Did we not call soon enough? Would Thurston be OK or, God forbid, check out?

For someone who doesn’t own and love a cat, this all might sound silly. But those who do will understand.


Like a child who must be watched more closely than the others, Thurston seems to follow trouble, though he doesn’t mean to. Last spring he fell out of a tree after scrambling up it when a German shepherd two houses down escaped from his fenced-in area and came bounding into our yard. Thurston injured his right rear leg and eventually recovered, but only after several vet visits and months of recuperation.

Thurston isn’t like Bitsy, our smaller, 15-year-old gray-and-brown cat who is laid back, very social and loves visitors.

Thurston is scared of everything. When the doorbell rings, he hightails it to a closet and parks himself in a corner until the intruder leaves. Any unusual noise sends him scurrying under a bed. Thunderstorms and fireworks are traumatic events.

But Thurston is otherwise a happy cat. He purrs when talked to, purrs when patted and likes his belly rubbed — unless one does it too long and then his claws and teeth come out.

But we forgive him because he is a good cat. He doesn’t care what we look like, never talks back and loves us no matter what.

So when he was sick, we fretted. When Dr. Smith called to tell us he would be OK, we were, to say the least, relieved.


Thurston, he said, was suffering from an aggressive urinary tract infection, his temperature was abnormally high and his white blood count elevated. He gave him a shot of potent antibiotics, got him hydrated and would send him home with a few days worth of inflammatory meds. Thurston should be back to his old self in a couple of days, according to our vet.

I thanked him profusely and told him he is a godsend, and I meant it. Do we ever recognize our veterinarians — of which there is a shortage in Maine — who keep our precious pets healthy and save lives, put our minds at ease and are always there, despite being overworked and probably exhausted much of the time? We ought to do it more.

When Phil brought Thurston home, he exited his cage, lay on the floor and promptly took a bath. I patted him, told him he was a good cat and said I was glad he was home.

Thurston didn’t know he had dodged a bullet. He just purred and continued lapping his fur, like nothing was amiss.

That’s the other thing. Don’t expect a cat to show instant gratitude.

But when he does, you’ll know it, and all will be right with the world.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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