In all my days of lawn mowing, I’ve sliced the heads off millions of blades of grass, turned many tree branches into sawdust, and probably cut no few slugs in half. But I’m glad to say I never had to deal with the kind of disaster that befell Gerald Kilpatrick.
On June 24, the LaSalle, Colo., man was fueling up his lawnmower in preparation for his weekly summer chore. While he was doing so, the family cat, Lucky, was rubbing against his legs. Kilpatrick put the gas can away before starting the mower, and he didn’t think anything of the fact that Lucky was nowhere to be seen — until he yanked the cord to start the machine.
Then, according to The Denver Post, he heard “a ding, like I hit a tree root.”
I can only imagine what went through his mind when he hit the kill switch and lifted up the mower and Lucky bolted for a tree.
Fortunately, Kilpatrick was able to catch Lucky before he got too far. He grabbed the cat and it was immediately clear that the cat had suffered some very severe injuries. His 8-year-old son Alex grabbed a towel and the pair rushed the mangled cat to the vet.
Lucky was purring as Alex held him — as cats often do when they’re in severe pain and distress — but as Gerald drove to a clinic in nearby Evans, blood started dripping from his mouth and one ear.
X-rays revealed that one of Lucky’s legs had a compound fracture and his jaw was broken. After stabilizing the cat, vets told Kilpatrick to take him to Colorado State University, where he could get the extensive treatment he needed.
Lucky did run out of luck with his broken leg — it had to be amputated because it was so severely damaged — and he had to have his jaw wired shut so the fracture could heal.
The Kilpatrick family is out $3,000 and Lucky’s down a few lives, but everyone is happy that the cat is making such a good recovery. He’s on a liquid diet for now, and he still looks a bit scrawny because the fur he lost from his too-close shave with the lawnmower hasn’t quite finished growing back.
But, Kilpatrick said, “He doesn’t even hate me” for the accident that took his left front leg. He noted that Lucky has a habit of getting into everything, and “I should have known better.”
This story could easily have ended in tragedy, but thanks to a quick-thinking caretaker who was willing and able to pony up the money for the cat’s medical treatment, and a crew of very skilled veterinarians, Lucky lived up to his name. It serves as reminder to all of us that we need to check for cats before starting the washing machine, cranking up the car on a cold winter day or closing the fridge — especially if your cat is of the extra-curious variety like Lucky.