If cats truly have nine lives, five-week-old Bridget is already operating at a deficit.
Bridget, as we shall call her as her origins and name are unknown, arrived into public view in the most horrific of ways after falling Sunday afternoon, some 50-60 feet, from the Highland View Bridge.
How the cat came to make that fall is also unknown.
“We really aren’t sure if somebody was playing a game and threw her over the bridge or she had gotten someplace she didn’t know and was scared and fell,” said Gatlin Ives, director of the St. Joseph Bay Humane Society.
As it would happen, there were individuals who saw the cat drop and were quick to the scene.
The Gulf County Sheriff’s Office was notified and in short time the Humane Society and Ives.
When Ives got her Bridget was not wet, indicating she had fallen on hard ground.
And, it was clear, she was seriously injured as her breathing was labored and she could not move her hind half.
Ives feared the worse.
“When I touched her and checked her out she purred, so that gave me hope,” Ives said.
We shall also note here that given the uncertainty of sex at the time, the cat was named, naturally, Bridge.
That would become Bridget when Ives arrived at a Tallahassee emergency veterinarian and Bridget was determined to be a she not he.
But, the Tallahassee vet also recommended euthanizing the cat. Treating her was useless, Ives was told.
Ives, however, wanted a second opinion and after Bridget survived Sunday night Ives took her from Tallahassee to veterinarian Hobson Fulmer in Apalachicola.
“He still wasn’t hopeful,” Ives said, but Fulmer treated the cat with some steroids, antibiotics and pain medicine and Ives returned to Port St. Joe.
Fulmer’s tentative diagnosis was that there was a dislocation of a vertebra causing paralysis on back end.
“She is so little and cats with spinal cord injuries it so tough,” Ives said.
A Facebook fundraiser has already raised just under $2,000 to defray medical costs for Bridget.
Bridget can stand on her front legs and is a gentle cat, if talkative cat.
“She wasn’t this way at first,” said Kylie Skoda at the Humane Society shelter about Bridget’s demeanor. “She was feisty, but she was scared.
“She is used to being around people. I have a sweet spot for kittens.”
But, Ives cautioned, Bridget is also not out of the woods, yet.
“The hope is that over the next three weeks as she grows her spine will straighten and the dislocation can heal,” Ives said.
To facilitate healing, Skoda is working on a wheelchair out of Tonka parts and other materials with the help of her home contractor and some videos she has found online.
“The wheelchair will keep her back-end straight and level and help the spine heal,” Skoda said.
But, if the Humane Society becomes unable to control Bridget’s pain, and Skoda said she has a distinctive “howl” when in pain, the Humane Society will end her suffering, Ives said.
Clearly, though, there are plenty cheering for Bridget’s full recovery.