By: Gina Brandolino
I have been threatening to tell this story in class for a while, and Maya’s post about a haunting involving a cat has finally compelled me to tell it.
My partner Ellen and I have two cats. Tiny is the rough-and-tumble tabby, a 15 pound tough guy of a cat, as you can see in the two pictures on the left below. Though they’re great friends, he’s nothing like our other cat Dodds, the dainty, tuxedoed, wide-eyed fella on the right below.
Last winter, Tiny stopped eating all of a sudden—like, all at once. One day he ate breakfast and lunch like usual, then he refused to eat dinner, or anything else. For days. He grew lethargic, wasn’t interested in playing; he vomited stomach fluids. Of course Ellen and I were worried; we took him to the vet, who did some tests and reported the sad news that Tiny was in kidney failure. The vet explained that one of two things was causing it. Option one: Sometimes outside cats will get into a toxin, like antifreeze for example, and it settles in their kidneys—if that happens, you can usually flush out the toxin and the cat will be okay. But Tiny isn’t an outside cat, and our house has no toxins in it; we are freakishly careful. So that gets us to option two: cats’ kidneys are just badly designed; kidney failure is the death of 75% of domesticated cats. This seemed to be what Tiny was going through. Our vet said there was no stopping it; we could maybe buy him a little time if we gave him intravenous fluids for three days to help flush out his kidneys, but since his kidneys were failing, inevitably he would slip back into poor health again—maybe in a few weeks, maybe in a few months. So we did the fluids, and Tiny did feel better, slowly at first, but steadily. And he stayed better.
After a few months passed, Ellen and I were reflecting on Tiny’s miraculous recovery, trying to figure out how to explain it. Maybe he did get into something toxic? But we are so cautious, and to be honest, if any cat in our house is going to eat something and get sick, it’s going to be the simpler, less savvy, more food-motivated cat: Dodds. So how to explain this? What had happened right before Tiny got sick? Then we both remembered at the same time, with a sick feeling: the ghost hunter had visited our house.
My ghost hunter friend Tim uses modified radios, also known as ghost boxes, to contact spirits. We asked him to come over and see what he could hear at our house, and we had a pretty good session: some folks from the other side talked to us, seemed to really try to establish a connection, then eventually faded out. But something strange happened while Tim was there—stranger than the voices from the other side on the radio: Tiny came out and sat with us. Tiny’s not a social cat; he loves Dodds and has grown comfortable with asking Ellen and me for affection, but he’s not really into other people and usually doesn’t come around when people he doesn’t know well are over. So when he came for the ghost box session, we thought Tiny just liked Tim. After the session was over, we went to give Tiny and Dodds dinner and that was the first time Tiny refused to eat. Had the contact with the other side caused it? But how?
Tim hasn’t heard this story yet; I suspect he will read it here and hope he doesn’t feel responsible in any way for this, because I don’t blame him at all. In fact I was able to make sense of what happened to Tiny only by having learned a lot from Tim. He’s a kind, steady, knowledgeable guy who believes there’s no such thing as an evil spirit, just a crabby or jerky spirit, and he’s dealt with his share of them. He told me a story once of having an “attachment”—a spirit who sort of gloms onto you and is hard to shake. Tim’s experience was that he felt sick, just really really sick, for a while—until the attachment detached. Drinking water helped. Ellen and I decided Tiny probably had an attachment—not a digestible toxin, but a spiritual one, one that he eventually shook off, or it left of its own accord. And maybe all the water—the IV fluids—helped.
A week or so after we realized this, by pure chance, we got a free smudging kit in the mail with something else we had ordered, and we smudged the hell out of Tiny. He’s as tough as ever, still holding his own.