Handsome Jack

The Mighty Road Warrior
This cat has come a long way since February 23, 2003
when he was found in a ditch 30 miles northwest of Fargo
approaching the end of his ninth life.  He was cut, burned, 
suffering from extensive road rash and was frost bitten everywhere.

UPDATE:  We fought hard to bring him back to life in 2003
and we did it!  Unfortunately, he lasted only six more years until he lost a battle
with kidney failure on March 31, 2009, 4 p.m. at the veterinarian's office.  As he
drifted away, I hovered over Jack holding him as close as I could while telling him
over and over again how much I loved him and that I would miss him for the rest of my life.


Jack was found in the ditch not far from Hunter, North Dakota, about 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, February 23, 2003 after his ride on top of an automobile engine where he was burned and cut by the engine/fan before dropping down close to the road where he wore his front claws down to nubs trying to keep himself up off the road. 

Theory has it that when he was eventually thrown out the bottom of the automobile, he landed on the right side of his face and straight back between the tires at 55+ mph twisting his way into the ditch.  Thank God he went between the tires and thank God he most likely twisted in the air which put him in the ditch instead of on the road and in the path of the next vehicle.  

The vets assumed he was knocked unconscious and/or hurt too much to move and laid there for God knows how long.  By the time he was able to move he was probably too cold as the wind-chill factor that morning was more than - 40.  Yes, that's BELOW ZERO.

Into this dismal scenario enters my former boss on his way to work in Fargo from Hunter, North Dakota, which is about 30 miles northwest of Fargo.  He thought he saw a lifeless cat in the ditch but wasn't sure and thought the cat had glanced at him.  He was stunned so he turned around, came back, parked his truck and walked up to the cat.  He saw absolutely no movement but just to make absolutely sure he touched the cat AND IT MOVED.   Larry picked him up and carefully placed the nearly frozen cat in his truck and drove to work where Shawn, another coworker, worked almost four hours with a damp terry cloth towel cleaning road grime from the cat's fur because when Larry first brought him in, neither Larry nor Shawn could tell what color he was.

Larry called me and I came in about noon with a girlfriend who has worked more than 25 years at a local veterinarian.  I brought cat litter and food because all Larry had for him at work was milk.  We carefully placed the cat, who was resting comfortably in a box lid, on the floor and placed litter a few feet away.  He slowly got up and walked toward the litter, carefully climbed into the small litter box and used it, then walked back to the box lid and laid down again.  I put the dry cat food outside his little make-shift bed and he actually ate a couple pieces.  These were good signs, he could move all four legs, he knew what a litter box was used for AND he was mildly hungry.  Excellent!

       

Top left was Jack on February 23, 2003, the first day I saw him.  
Middle photo was taken on February 23, 2004 exactly one year later.
And on the right is Jack on February 23, 2005

Below left is Jack on February 23, 2006, middle photo was taken on February 23, 2007,
and on the right is Jack and me on February 23, 2008.  We are both so lucky to have each other.
Below right Jack getting a hug after finding out he had only a few more weeks to live, if we were lucky.
(I think he's getting plump.)

     

Below is actually March 7, 2009, nearly two weeks after our 6th anniversary together.  
The picture below was taken a few hours after he was diagnosed with kidney failure.  
Why him?
He doesn't have much more time with me so I'll make it as good as possible by giving him fluid injections 
every 48 hours and hope it keeps him going for awhile.  This is just too sad.

Back in 2003 the veterinarian thought Jack must be 2-3 years old so I was counting on having this
beautiful, affectionate boy with me for at least another 15 years, not just six.  

His neck was shaved to draw blood and as you can see, his little leg was shaved for a large injection of 
fluids at the veterinarian's office to be followed by my subcutaneous injections at home.

UPDATE: March 27, 2009.  Just got back from the veterinarian and his liver is shutting
down too.  The vet gave my boy another few weeks or sooner if he starts feeling pain.  It's all just too sad.
Below shows Jack laying on my bed and me giving him one of my thousand good byes. 
(He looks so sad on the right.)

   

  
Above pictures were taken March 29, 2009 in Shell Knob, Missouri.  I lost my baby to kidney and liver failure on March 31, 2009 at 4 p.m.
It isn't fair after he fought so hard to live and lasted only six more years.  But they were good years and he 
got all the nuzzles, kisses and hugs he ever wanted ... and so did I.  He was my precious, big boy. 



The following is how he progressed from day one back in 2003:

The above picture is Jack on my desk at work the same day he was found.
I work the night shift so he was in that box lid from about 8 a.m. until I left about midnight.
-- I was at the vet the next day at 8 a.m., Monday, February 24. --
  
The vet and his assistants soaked Jack down which effectively cleaned off the remaining road grime, then he was patched up.  His back leg had a gash going to the bone, the hair on both sides near his shoulders was so excessively burned by the manifold it had not only turned yellow, the hair had melted and later both the hair and skin shriveled up and fell off.  All his whiskers had melted down to nothing.  He'd been cut everywhere by the car fan and was suffering from serious frost-bite.  
The consensus was that he is a 2-3 year old unaltered male with all his claws.  In short, he was a farm cat.

   

On his second visit to the vet a few days later, his back leg was checked and rewrapped, he was checked for ear mites (negative) and found he had serious frost-bite on his ears, tip of his nose and foot pads.  He was in pain BIG TIME.

  

The second wrap was too tight and within three days his foot had swollen to AT LEAST twice what it should be.  It had swollen while I was at work and when I got home and saw the damage, I couldn't have moved fast enough getting that wrap snipped off.  His foot was not only swollen, it was lumpy and grotesque. 
(He had so many problems, he didn't need this too.)

   

After a few hours the swelling went down almost completely and we were able to sleep.  
That night I brought my pillow and a blanket into the computer room where he was quarantined away from my other two cats while recuperating, and we slept on the floor.  I had done that a few times before so he'd know he was loved and I wanted him.

Needless to say I was at the vet first thing the next morning and I was
NOT happy.

       

The first three photos show his nose and left ear black, hard and ready to drop off.
The right photo shows the nose tip and ear gone.  Interestingly enough, they both came off the same night.
A few days later he lost about a third of his right ear too.  
One-by-one all his frost-bitten foot pads were dropping the outer dead skin.  

After almost three weeks recuperating he was strong enough for neutering so back to the vet he went.  Later that day the veterinarian called to tell me the operation went just fine but there was one small glitch.  Jack's tail was almost entirely dead from frostbite so all but two inches had to be amputated.  The veterinarian also rewrapped his back leg again, for the third time.

 

After a few days my girlfriend Kathi and I removed the tail wrap and foot wrap after five days.  Everything looked good.

      

When he eventually sheds his singed yellow hair and the rest of the fur grows back and his scars heal, he'll be an interesting looking cat.  He's getting fat and is going to be one big boy, he's already 15 pounds and growing which is approximately the combined weight of my other two cats.  The ears healed nicely too, didn't they?

One month after he came into my life, and after living in my computer room with the door shut and away from my other cats, Jack cautiously introduced himself to Nettie and Biscuit.  He's in the process of finding all kinds of comfortable spots for future naps. 


After he healed, he was always giving me the perfect photo opportunities whether he was
sleeping on the bed or just looking at me with his big, golden eyes.

He just keeps looking more and more handsome.

 

Top left photo shows the scar over his lip.  He looks like a pretty tough little character, doesn't he?
Middle photo is Jack enjoying the smell of fresh laundry in the middle of my bed.
Below left shows Jack and my other cat Biscuit, Jack gettin' some kisses,
and on the right are all three cats getting cozy in their favorite spots in my computer room
with Ms. Nettie Pike, my calico, tucked nicely inside her little cubicle.

    

Below shows his little "abbreviated" nose and lack of ears.  Read his story below.

       

 

    Jack loved the kitty igloo
He's the biggest cat I've ever had
and believe me,  it's a squeeze for him
 to crawl inside the igloo.  But you know cats, 
they love those small areas.

He's almost all healed as the photo shows
on the right, taken on April 2, 2003.
Now all that's left is for his hair
to grow back on his tail and everywhere else.

   

 

  This site maintained by

                              Jan Koski