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我相信和大牛一起經歷的這段過程,是為了鍛鍊我的心,讓我練習更堅定、更寬容地去面對生活的轉折和生命的轉變,不強求也不輕易放棄。表面上看起來是我在照顧牠,但其實是牠一直在守護著我的信念。在牠身上我發現原來只要能好好吃飯、好好喝水、順暢呼吸、安穩睡眠,就是最平凡卻也最真實的幸福。

文圖/ Story & Picture ─王乃薇 Wang Nai-Wei

 

很多流浪貓的身世從來都是個謎,那些身上的傷疤或者剪耳記號(註一)都只是一小段線索,就算循線搜到了些什麼蛛絲馬跡,也都只是想像而已。

大牛怎麼來的?以前怎麼過生活?小時候長得什麼模樣?我是不是也曾跟牠的父母兄弟有過短暫的交集?總而言之,牠就是突然出現在我餵食流浪貓的地盤裡。浪漫地想,也許是因為牠戀上了那隻虎斑貓女王,但實際地猜,也許是我供應的伙食挺合牠的胃口。

我知道牠不想離開,三番兩次被原本餵養牠的愛心媽媽抓回去,卻又趁夜偷跑回來⋯⋯即使貓女王總是毫不留情地賞牠貓拳,但牠從不還手,只是小心地退開,默默跟在女王身後⋯⋯每天有人準時放飯,飯後有摸肚皮運動和夜空下的散步;在晨風中酣睡,身邊有美女(貓女王)相陪⋯⋯看起來大牛的流浪貓生活很自由愜意,但那僅僅只是浪貓生涯的一小部分。

兩年前牠感染了貓愛滋(註二),今年又檢查出慢性腎衰竭(註三),我沒有選擇地將牠帶回家。因為腎衰竭,引發了許多其他併發症,反覆發燒、愛滋口炎發作、血尿、黃疸⋯⋯牠虛弱地和死神拔河,我沒命地奔波在獸醫院和家之間,打皮下輸液、餵藥、灌水灌食、熱敷冰敷按摩⋯⋯每天早上起床第一件事是衝到牠的身邊確認牠的呼吸體溫⋯⋯只要遇到突發狀況就手忙腳亂,打針餵藥不順就輕易放棄⋯⋯我甚至開始懷疑堅持救治牠是不是一個錯誤,大牛真正的希望又是什麼?無數在腦海裡跳躍的想法伴隨著不安與恐懼,深怕這個生命在我手上消逝⋯⋯

雖然我也不知道到底做到什麼程度才叫做盡了全力,但我就是無法立刻放手。就這樣,我邊走邊學,後來漸漸明白了如果我沒有先把自己穩定住,是沒有辦法照顧牠的(同樣我也無法照顧自己的心),我試著跟大牛說:「你盡力,我也盡力,我們一起加油!」。這句話像一粒小小的安定劑,緩緩地滲透到我心裡,我相信所有事件的發生都有另一個更高的意識在安排,而且有其目的,我們要做的只是在現在這個當口做自己該做的、能做的,然後順著這條河流往前走。

打皮下的針一直打不進去,我就隔一陣子再打;餵藥一直吐,我就想辦法用騙的;食物不肯吃,我就磨碎分次分時段餵食。漸漸的,我比較可以判斷牠的突發小狀況,依症狀做簡單處理。然後,我就這樣找出一套照顧牠的作業流程,而我也可以從容冷靜地徹底執行醫生交付的居家照護事宜。

在那段日子裡,我默默地過了生日,默默地流了很多眼淚,生平第一次感覺無人能理解的巨大孤獨感以及生命神奇的自癒能力;感受了獸醫及陌生人的愛心善意,還有對金錢有了不同於以往的想法。最重要的是,我決定結束現在的教學工作,重新開啟一個新的工作模式,即使我並沒能因此而確認關於未來的任何一件事,但至少明白當下可以改變與堅持的到底是什麼。

我相信和大牛一起經歷的這段過程,是為了鍛鍊我的心,讓我練習更堅定、更寬容地去面對生活的轉折和生命的轉變,不強求也不輕易放棄。表面上看起來是我在照顧牠,但其實是牠一直在守護著我的信念。在牠身上我發現原來只要能好好吃飯、好好喝水、順暢呼吸、安穩睡眠,就是最平凡卻也最真實的幸福。

有人說貓是哲學家,但我想牠們是生活家,告訴我們活著到底是怎麼一回事。我記得在大牛狀況最差的時候,我和牠有一個約定,而現在我們正朝著這個方向走去─在秋天來臨之前,我想我可以見到大牛在新工作室捲成貓小卷,翻肚子甜睡的模樣。

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後記|特別感謝

廖建洋醫師、林正義醫師、張盈晴小姐、張凱倫小姐、高慧君小姐、柯竹君小姐、布丁小姐。

 

註一│剪耳記號

是為流浪貓實施TNRT=Trap誘捕/N=Neuter絕育/R=Release釋放)之後,在耳朵上剪一小塊作為識別記號。公貓剪左耳,母貓剪右耳。

註二│貓愛滋

貓愛滋是經由帶病貓的唾液或因打架而造成的傷口等途徑傳染,不會傳染給人,致死率不高,愛滋貓與一般貓咪無異,只要隔離飼養並注意照顧即可。

註三│慢性腎衰竭

貓咪逐漸喪失腎功能,無法將體內毒素排出體外,是一種不可逆的病症。

 

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Feral cats are often a mystery. Although the scars on their bodies are clues to their past, the conclusions are often merely conjectures.

What was Big Cow like before? Where did he grow up and what was he like as a kitten? Have I met his siblings and parents? Regardless of his past, Big Cow was a regular at the area where I feed the stray cats. I’d like to think it was because he was enamored with the tabby who we fondly hail as the Queen, but I know, it is most likely because he enjoyed the food I provided.

I knew he didn’t want to leave the streets because he snuck back from his foster homes several times.  He adored the Queen so much that even when she used him as punch bag, he still meekly followed her everywhere she went. It may appeared Big Cow led a charmed life — regular meals, affectionate belly rubs from humans, midnight strolls under the stars, falling asleep to the gentle breeze while being surrounded by beautiful companions — but the truth is, all that is only a small fraction of what life is really like for street cats.

Two years ago, Big Cow contracted feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), commonly known as feline AIDS. This year, he was diagnosed with chronic renal failures. His conditions gave me no choice but to bring him home. Since then, he has suffered from many complications, including fever, infections, bloody urine and severe fatigue. While he fights against death, I rushed him from one vet to another, doing everything imaginable to revive his health. I give him injections, force feed him medicine, installed a feeding tube on him, and even massage him regularly. Each morning, I rush to his side to make sure he is still breathing. Whenever something goes wrong, I would be in such frenzy and I would began to question whether treating him was a mistake. What did Big Cow really want? As he battles against his ailments, I struggle with doubts and anxiety, and mostly fear that his life would end under my watch.

Although I still have no idea what “doing my best” entails, I choose not to give up. Little by little, I began to learn that in order to take good care of him, I must remain calm and collected. I keep telling Big Cow, “you do your best and I will do mine, let’s do this together!” That thought is the sedative I need to stay composed. I believe all things happen for a reason and that our job is to do our best and a Higher Power will take care of the rest.

Gradually, I developed a systematic way of nursing him a home. If I had trouble giving him injection, I would give myself a break and try again later. When he couldn’t keep his medicine down or when he refuses eat, I would think of a creative way to help him such as grinding up his food into smaller pieces. I discovered that even I can provide hospice care home.

Since he fell ill, I have celebrated birthdays by myself and wiped away my own tears. I have never felt so isolated, yet it was also the first time I truly experienced the miraculous healing power of life. The kindness shown by vets and strangers warmed my heart. My views on money took at 180 degree turn. Most of all, I decided to quit my teaching job and start a brand new way of living. Although life is still full of uncertainties, at least now I know what I can and cannot change.

I believe my time with Big Cow has been a training course for my heart so I can be stronger and more tolerant to embrace whatever life throws at me. I have learned when to be insistent and when to let go. It may look like I am taking care of him, but in fact, it is Big Cow who is helping me to hold on to my beliefs.

From him, I learn that happiness comes in the simplest things — the ability to eat, drink, breath, and sleep.

Some say cats are philosophers, but to me, they are masters of living. They help us see it means to be alive. One time, when Big Cow was at a height of misery, I made a pact with him that as long as we stay on this path, in no time (even perhaps before autumn comes again), he will be snoozing away comfortably in my studio with his belly curled up like a shrimp.

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