Skip to content

Ninjas don’t have wings

1 May, 2012

A year ago today, our beloved Ninja found himself trapped on our rooftop in Errachidia, Morocco.  We didn’t know about this at the time, and that proved to be almost fatal for him.

Earlier in the day, my friend from the US, Danger, my PCV friend, and I left for an overnight trip into the desert.  As the three of us rode out of cell tower range on our camels, The Husband was frantically tearing our house apart looking for Ninja.

The next morning, while watching the sun rise over the Sahara, my PCV friend, Danger and I rode back into range.  And at this point, Ninja had already either jumped or fell 10 or so meters from the roof to the ground in front of our building.

According to one of our neighbors, a black cat (that looked unlike any cat he had seen before) had been by his door around 2200 on May 1st.

As Danger, my PCV friend, and I neared the edge of the Erg Chebbi, I got a phone call from The Husband asking me to come home as soon as possible.  At first, he wouldn’t tell me why, but when he did, I did everything possible to get our camels, and later, our SUV driver, moving as quickly as possible.  And if you’ve spent any time in Morocco, you know that things don’t typically move quickly, especially first-thing in the morning.

Our desert trek, near the village of Merzouga, was a good 90+ minutes from home.  After arriving back at the grand taxi station in Errachidia, we went back to the house to try to figure out what to do.

Ever an American, I made up a flier offering a reward for Ninja’s return.  We went door-to-door asking if anyone had seen him.  We begged friends to help us come and search.

In general, people were very supportive of us, although some townspeople laughed at our efforts.  We were offering money!? For a cat!? The streets of Errachidia are filled with hundreds of cats!  Why not just choose one of them to replace our missing cat?

Our adopted family reacted as though one of their own children had gone missing, and spent countless hours, even at night or in the rain, searching for Ninja.

Our Fulbright and Peace Corps Volunteer brothers and sisters joined in the search parties and made meals for us so we could continue searching for Ninja.

How long do you keep looking for a pet who is missing?  Thankfully, we got our answer on May 3rd, when, around 2300, The Husband and one of our Moroccan brothers decided to make one more search before calling it a night.  While Danger, my Moroccan mom and I made dinner and waited for the guys to get back, we heard shouting from the front yard.  Running downstairs, I found Mohamed joyfully exclaiming that they found Ninja.

We flew outside and ran until we met a them a few streets away, The Husband holding a badly injured Ninja in his arms.  Mohamed had picked up a very tiny kitten along the way too, abandoned by its mother.

Up until finding him, we did not know how Ninja escaped.  He is a Ninja, after all, so maybe he found some way out the front door.  After seeing his injuries, it became apparent that he had jumped or fallen from the roof.

Despite his injuries, the first thing that Ninja did after being brought upstairs was to limp to the litter box to relieve himself, or to try to anyway.  Like I said, his injuries were really bad.

What do you do with a badly injured cat while living in rural Morocco?  After Ninja healed, The Husband and I talked about how we both had thoughts of finding him too injured to save, and being placed in the horrible position of having to end his suffering as humanely as possible, and most likely without the assistance of a veterinarian.  There was a vet in town, but he dealt only with livestock, and the nearest vet who saw domestic pets was several hours away.

So, what to do with our badly injured cat?  We knew that Ninja needed to get to a big city, and so we put him and The Husband in a grand taxi headed for Casablanca.  And at this point, it was after midnight, which meant arranging a taxi was more complicated than just negotiating the price, getting in the car, and going.  While they were on their 9 hour cab ride to the capital, we were making phone calls to try to figure out the next step in saving Ninja.  We quickly ascertained that they would need to go to Europe to have access to things like an ultrasound and a surgeon.  The first flight out of Casa the following morning happened to be going to Paris.

Thanks to our French-speaking Fulbright brothers, we were able to find a clinic for them to go to, and to give the clinic a heads up on Ninja’s condition and arrival time.

After a week or so, The Husband and our bionic Ninja returned to Morocco, with Ninja sporting a plate and seven screws in one hip, and one screw in the other.  He has also received strict instructions not to climb or jump on anything for the next three months.

bionic kitty – Ninja’s x-ray showing his plate and screws

I never thought I’d learn how to remove stitches, and I especially did not think that this was a skill I’d acquire while on my Fulbright grant in Morocco.  Ninja was a great patient and actually purred while I removed his 30-something stitches close to three weeks after he returned to Morocco.

I’m happy to report that Ninja is happy as ever, and is totally healed at this point.  He has two massive scars on his hips, but really, they add character.

Today, while much of the world is celebrating International Workers’ Day, I’m celebrating the fact that Ninja is still alive, and that I have two cats who I love too much.  And without the help and support of our friends and family last year, I don’t know that I could be saying that.

Ninja may not have wings, but thankfully, he still has another eight or so lives left in him.

Thank you! Merci beaucoup! شكرا جزيلا لك!  Dziękuję bardzo!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 May, 2012 12:34

    When Ninja and I landed in Paris, I made a call to the house to find out what to do next. I was literally moving point-to-point, internationally, without having any idea on where to do next. Because I speak no French and I was not in the Paris-metro area, it wasn’t all that simple to figure things out by myself on the fly. Our first stop was at a general vet’s office. They spoke no English and I spoke no French. But I showed them the cat and they immediately stuck him under an x-ray. The results were not good, so they called the animal surgery center and made sure the MRI was ready for us.

    When we arrived at the animal hospital, the vet took one look and told me that it could be really bad, so they stuck him in the MRI. And then they scheduled surgery for the following morning. I had inquired about the foggy, glazed-look in his eyes, and I was told it was due to the pain. They moved Ninja to the holding area and gave him an IV-drop of morphine.

    The surgery was very successful, but there was still a minor issue they needed to monitor, which is why we couldn’t go back to Morocco right away; an inoperable hairline fracture in his tail, which could have paralyzed his ability to defecate and urinate. The only thing we could do was wait and see how it healed.

    So we found a little hotel not far from the airport. Because I was told that he could not–under any circumstances–make even the slightest jump–I had no choice but to take all of the furniture in the room apart. I deconstructed the bed frame, desk, nightstand, and anything that was within range of a short leap. We lived like that for a week. Putting everything back together at the end of the trip was just as much fun as you might think it was.

    After the second checkup, Ninja received the all-clear, so we headed back to the desert. He was still very much banged-up, but definitely recuperating. Mook didn’t recognize him at first and threw a little fit (her little brain became confused with the fact that he looked familiar but smelled different)–but that worked itself out after a week or so (though Ninja was visibly depressed by being rejected by her).

    I know this all seems like a bit much for just an animal. But as far as I’m concerned, that animal is as much a part of my family as any human would be.

  2. The Friend permalink
    3 May, 2012 15:09

    Even some Americans don’t realize that pets are family.

    I’m just so glad that he’s alright!

  3. CARYN permalink
    6 May, 2012 01:13

    I’m so glad that you both feel that way about your babies…..many people (all over the world) just don’t understand how we can feel so strongly about an animal.

  4. 14 January, 2017 02:06

    At this time I am going to do my breakfast, once having my
    breakfast coming over again to read other news.


  1. false memories and places I haven’t been yet | mała koza
  2. Pony Monkey, time traveler | a tiny life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: