He hisses; we tread with care. He growls, and we back away. Weighing in at a whopping seventeen pounds, without an ounce of fat, our black cat Pudge is a giant among alley cats. Distant and aloof, his yellow eyes reflect images of jungles, treacherous hunts, and savage kills. Beneath a coat with the shine of patent leather, his rippling muscles carry him with the confident, swaggering strides of a black panther, creating the illusion of a creature far larger and more terrifying than the spawn of a simple alley cat. Power emanates from his muscular frame, and respect is what we give him… Usually.
For today, we shake our heads and call him “Idiot!”
Last night I found this creature of strength and beauty seated pitifully amongst the cans and bottles at the bottom of the kitchen, garbage bin. Scolding him firmly, I reached downward, slipped one hand behind his front feet, placed the other under his butt, and gently lifted him from his stinky prison. Feeling slime dripping down my hand, I groaned with disgust, but that groan swiftly became a gasp when I realized that the slime was actually blood! While raiding the garbage, he had slashed a large gaping, cut in his thigh. In a panic, our family sprung into action. Within a minute, gauze, medical tape, antibiotic salve, and scissors appeared on the desk, then as my daughter held the cat and gently soothed him, I began to clean up the mess he had made of himself. Ten minutes later, with the wound cleaned and securely wrapped, Pudge was placed upon a stack of soft blankets inside his kennel and given some leftover pork from our New Year’s meal. The crisis was averted.
Getting into the garbage bin is something new for Pudge. He is a well-trained animal and knows right from wrong, but I can’t really condemn him for giving in to temptation. Because of his allergies, his diet is very restricted; and during the holidays, all kinds of forbidden goodies get tossed into that garbage bin. Giving in to that temptation, however, could have opened an artery. It could have been a corpse that I found in the garbage. As it is, he will have a scar. That perfect coat will be marred by a hairless spot for the rest of his life. A permanent reminder of one act of stupidity. (photo taken when I cleaned it this evening. It’s healing well!)
As I cleaned up the cat, I couldn’t help but think how many times we as humans momentarily give into the temptation to climb into the garbage, and how that momentary plunge can destroy our lives and the lives of those around us. A few too many drinks could leave us dead on the highway or in prison mourning about how we took the lives of the innocent. Getting high just once could place us in the county home sucking our thumbs and dirtying our diapers. Stealing just a few items from work could leave us unemployed or spending time in jail. Looking for a little love in a one night stand could leave us divorced, pregnant or plagued with an incurable STD. Ignoring our family’s needs could curse us with growing old alone. The list goes on… and on…and on. Good people making one bad, life-shattering choice.
If I were to suggest a resolution for this New Year, It would be that we love others before ourselves, that we think before we act, and that all of our decisions be wise ones. Let’s stay out of the garbage in 2012.