The 7000 Dollar Cat

As told to Marnie McCammon

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My name is Pepe’.  I was born in a litter of beautiful babies in Eugene circa 1995.  When we were 8 weeks old and ready for forever homes we were advertised in the paper to help find our peeps.  Soon Mr. Walt came to see us.  I just knew I was the prettiest one, and when I saw Mr. Walt take a look at me, I knew we were a match.  Come to find out, Mr. Walt is a professional photographer and he chose me for my beautiful face.  He reached down and scooped me up and we were off to my new home to meet my big brother, two-year-old Bepe’.  Mr. Walt thought Bepe’ could use a buddy while Mr. Walt worked. 

Bepe’ was not pleased about my arrival, as I imposed on his domain, which to this day he considers all his.

I was such a cute little thing that Mr. Walt decided to write up a modeling contract, making a deal with me even though I was under 18.  The deal said I could do modeling for food, how much I didn’t know at the time, but it turned out to be a lot!

As I grew up, working my modeling job, I had a beautiful, safe backyard with lots of fun things to do and explore, including a beautiful waterfall.  I was a happy boy!

Sometimes when Mr. Walt called me in for bedtime I wasn’t ready to go.  One night, since I had my own cat door and Mr. Walt had run around the yard several times trying to catch me, he finally gave up and left me to come in when I pleased.

While it was dark I found lots of things I hadn’t seen before in the daytime . . . including a giant raccoon.  I was curious about this guy in my yard and decided to check him out.  Big mistake.  That big raccoon ran me right out of my own backyard and I was so scared I bolted across the busy street in front of our house. 

I knew I was really in trouble then.  Not only was I being chased by a big raccoon, I was also in unknown territory, where I’d never been before, running for my life as fast and as far as I could.  I got lost, and spent all night hiding from that big ‘coon that I knew was still looking for me.  

As the sun came up I was hiding under blackberries, not knowing what to do.  I had been missing for five days, and the whole time Mr. Walt had been frantically posting signs and looking for me, just like I was looking for him.  Finally in great need of food and water I knew I had only one choice:  I found my way back to that busy street and made a dash for home. 

I was running and trying to make it across when my lights went out and I flew into the air as I was hit by a car and thrown to the curb.  

I awoke up in so much pain I knew my pelvis was broken.  I crawled home,

trying to make it to my safe backyard.  I’d been laying and praying that Mr. Walt would find me when suddenly a bright light shone on me.  It was Mr. Walt!  Just getting home he spotted me in the driveway, ran to me and said, “Oh no!  Are you alright?”  I must have looked bad because Mr. Walt scooped me up and drove very fast to the emergency vet near our house.

As soon as we arrived they took me back and had Mr. Walt wait out front.  They soon went out and told him I was badly dehydrated and that my liver and organs had begun to feed on themselves but that they thought they could save me — but it would be expensive.  Of course, Mr. Walt pulled out his credit card and said “do what it takes.”  They did, and they kept me for three days and then transferred me to a wonderful animal hospital in Eugene who had a doctor near retirement who could do the surgery I needed. 

Mr. Walt went home and his phone rang at 4 am.  He thought the worst, but they told him they were injecting me with fluids but I wouldn’t eat — would he please come see if I would eat for him?  The minute I saw him, I opened my toothless mouth (I lost my teeth in the accident) and accepted tiny bites from his hand.  After that Mr. Walt set his alarm for every four hours, and returned to hand-feed me through the entire weekend.  

On Monday I returned to the hospital for surgery on my pelvis and mouth.  Mr. Walt came for me Tuesday and we headed home for six to eight months of recovery, according to the vet. 

Remember, Mr. Walt had told them to do whatever it took, and clearly he intended to do the same.

I heard him tell someone on the phone recently that one day he was watching me play and climb a tree in the yard, a happy boy.  He said it made it all worth it.

I’m thankful too!  I wasn’t finished exploring my beautiful backyard, which is just part of my happy life.  And I learned my lesson:  from now on I’ll always go in when he calls me for bedtime. 

Pepe’ is a Blue Point Himalayan who lives in Coburg, Oregon with his counterpart Bepe’, a Seal Point Siamese, and their photographer and cat-dad, Walt Grondona.