PAXTON — Shaking, with its hair singed and face swollen, the cat brought into the Paxton Veterinary Clinic this week left June Bane aghast.
At first, she thought somebody had perhaps shaved its hair. But after a closer look, it became apparent that the cat had been burned.
"It's horrible," said Bane, a veterinary clinic employee. "Somebody asked me how this happened. I said, 'I don't know, but I kind of doubt a cat would walk through fire or anything burning. I just can't imagine an animal doing that.'
"I have no idea what happened to the cat, but it's horrible."
The younger male cat, which has been named Marvel, was brought into the clinic south of Paxton on Monday by a citizen who wishes to remain anonymous. That same person had found Marvel along a road earlier that day, Bane said.
Where the cat was found and where the cat sustained its injuries may not be the same place, Bane noted.
"We have no idea where it happened," Bane said. "You don't know how far this cat has traveled, so it's hard to say where it happened."
The cat appeared to have been burned, and its face was swollen to the point where "you can barely see his eyes," Bane said. The cat's body temperature was low, too — at 96.4 degrees, compared with a normal temperature of 101 or 102, Bane said.
"He was shaking really bad," Bane said, "but that was a good sign because that means he could still feel something."
Bane said veterinary clinic staff spent Monday cleaning up the cat "the best we could, just so we could at least see its eyeballs." They also gave the cat fluids, antibiotics and pain medication and used a heating pad to raise its body temperature, and by the end of Monday the cat's temperature had risen to 102 and it was able to regulate its own temperature without the use of the heating pad.
The cat also had blood work done, the results of which "weren't horrible but weren't great either," Bane said.
"We're going to redo the blood work in a few days to see how it is again," Bane said.
Bane said the cat is not yet able to eat on its own, so a syringe is being used to feed it.
Bane said it is difficult to tell the extent of Marvel's injuries at this point, but the cat is obviously in a lot of pain.
"He hurts so bad, so we're trying to go real easy with him," Bane said. "He's got a long recovery ahead of him if he makes it."
Angie Cleary, who runs the "Ford County IL Homeless Pets" Facebook page and has been helping with Marvel's recovery, said Tuesday that Marvel was starting to show signs of getting better. Bane said updates on Marvel's condition would be posted daily on Cleary's Facebook page.
"He can open his mouth now, which is something we were worried about with the swelling," Cleary wrote Tuesday on the Facebook page. "He has not ate yet, but that is to be expected. And he can see; we are not sure how well at this point, but the fact that he can see something is incredible!"
Like Bane, Cleary was in disbelief that a cat could be left to die like Marvel was.
"He obviously had an owner at some point," Cleary said, "because he is tame and amazingly still affectionate after being this badly abused. ... I cannot wrap my head around how anyone could do this to a living creature."
Donations toward Marvel’s medical care may be made out to Paxton Vet Clinic with "Marvel" in the memo line and sent to: Paxton Vet Clinic (Attn: June), 1953 E. 200 North Road, Paxton, IL 60957.
Will Brumleve is editor of the Ford County Record, a News-Gazette Media community newspaper. For more, visit fordcountyrecord.com.