Category Archives: Inspirational

The Last Wildcat

102_9805I almost gasped as the cat stuck his head out around the wheel of my son’s motorcycle. This animal wasn’t supposed to be here. Not this close!  The old cat meowed then ran to my feet and waited for a response. Instinctively, I backed away. This wasn’t right. Everyone knows that uncharacteristic behavior from a wild animal is a sign of rabies.  The elderly cat had skirted the edge of our yard and avoided human contact for over four years. You could call him. He wouldn’t come. A sideways glance would send him running into the woods. He hated humans.  Why was he standing at my feet?  Cocking his head to the side the cat looked up into my face and meowed again as if to say, “Hi. It’s me. I’ve come home.” He rubbed against my leg and I rubbed my eyes. I had fallen asleep the night before in the real world and it appeared that I had awaken in the Twilight Zone.

“A rabid animal will not drink,” I quoted to myself as I stepped backwards towards the door. Milk seemed to be the answer. If he drank the milk I could relax, but if he began to froth at the mouth like something from the Exorcist, I could…

“I could what?” I asked myself. ” Shoot him? Me, shoot a cat? I don’t think so.”

“Milk first,” I decided “Panic later.”

The cat waited patiently as I slipped into the house and got him something to drink. I placed the bowl in front of him, but rather than lap at the milk, the hungry, old cat checked out my offering, then looked up as me as though he were asking permission.

“This looks pretty good,” he seemed to say. “Are you sure you don’t want it?”

“Drink, Kitty,” I coaxed, and the cat lowered his head and obeyed.

People who know of him have often said that the elderly Gent, as we call him, came to me that day asking for help. I can see their reasoning. When Gent came to us, his health was failing. Life in the wild had not been kind. His broken nose is the first thing that greets you when he lunges onto your lap. As he snuggles close, you will immediately notice his raspy breathing. When you first caress his long, soft fur, your fingers will recoil as they trail across with his crushed ribcage. These were merely the beginning of the old cat’s problems. His sides were missing huge patches of fur and splotched with chemical burns. His fur was full of nits and he was crawling with lice. Deer ticks circled his neck like a collar, and he had the absolutely worse case of fleas I have seen in my entire life. But this too was only the beginning. His ears were blackened with mites, tape worm segments were clinging to his privates, and he was vomiting round worms. And finally (yes, these really do exist.) his urinary tract was infested with worms. The poor cat was passing things that looked like baby night crawlers. I suppose if I tried really hard I could make myself believe that Gent came to us that morning looking for help, but I think I would always doubt. You see, I believe the old cat is a miracle.

He came to me the morning after I buried Puff. I had no desire to face that pain again, so I had staunchly determined that I didn’t want another cat, but often times what we want and what we need are entirely different things. I needed Gent. I just didn’t know it. In the months to follow my family would have to face the loss of two more pets, the failing health of my parents, and too many other problems to list without becoming severely depressed. Through it all, Gent has been like a gift from God. This old wildcat gave up his life in the out of doors and moved flawlessly into our home. He is not neutered. We would never consider having him put under anesthesia. Yet he does not spray. Within a day’s time he stepped from the role of wildcat into that of therapy cat. Yes, we have provided him with medical care, but the care he has given us is so much more.

Calm and attentive, Gent has an uncanny ability to detect feelings and to decipher needs. He knows when someone is sick. He knows when someone is hurting, and he knows when someone needs to feel special. He saw Grenny through the deaths of Kitsten and her brother, faithfully staying by her side until she was ready to face the world on her own. When my elderly parents came to live with us, he took it upon himself to welcome them and provide activity to keep their minds and hearts alive. His fur has been cried upon, his ears have listened to plans, failures and heartaches. He glues himself to the sides of those who are sick and spends hours upon the laps of those who are depressed. The list goes on and on. This old cat has made us his purpose in life.

I have no idea how long we will be able to keep Gent. He is a very old cat. His lungs are bad. His heart beats too fast. His kidneys are almost shot, but we will keep him as long as we can, and I will face the pain when the time comes. because this old cat is our gift from God, and he is worth it.

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Messing With Garbage

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.

Sue

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Home After Midnight

Gayle rose from her bed after midnight,

Her steps they were weary and slow.

Her heart aching sorely from burdens,

More than any mother should know.

No Christmas tree stood in the corner,

Draped gently with garland that’s bright.

No stockings were hung by the chimney.

Or candles glowed brightly that night.

And morning would come without changes,

No steps on the fresh-fallen snow.

No child would come home after midnight,

And worry his poor mother so.

No defiance in his dark eyes shining,

No grin for he knew she’d forgive,

No slop on the carpet to wipe up.

Just how was a mother to live?

A child shouldn’t die before Christmas.

No mother should bear with this pain.

And as she seated herself in the parlor,

All attempts to be happy were vain.

A soft noise at the door drew her upward.

She turned on the porch light to see,

A young woman in sweat shirt and blue jeans,

A scarf and a tattered white T.

Keri was just a poor girl from the ghetto,

With nothing on earth to bestow,

But she thought on that eve after midnight,

The Lord wanted her just to go,

To offer her presence in comfort,

And a hug, that was proof of her care,

To a soul that she knew that was hurting.

For that love was all she could share.

Gale smiled as she looked at the sidewalk,

And the prints on the fresh fallen snow.

A child had come home after midnight,

With a hug and a cheery hello.

Many gifts will change hands during Christmas,

Wrapped in tissue and ribbons so bright,

But none so important and lasting,

As the love that we give on that night.

© S. Craig

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