My Best Friend

Perseverance: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, discouragement, failure, or opposition.

Two summers ago, in June, I had just come home from the grocery store. I was in the kitchen bringing the groceries in from the car when I suddenly heard a loud and deep sort of wailing. It was a cat; there was no mistaking that wail. I immediately panicked. “Peaches, where is Peaches” I frantically thought out loud. Whew, she’s right here in the kitchen with me. Well if she’s in here with me, what is it or who is it that I hear?

I run out on the deck, peering over the railing expecting to see some large grown cat in some sort of distress. I don’t see anything but I continue hearing the terrible sound. I go out back to investigate. I follow the sound to a small, dirty ball of fur rolled up in the corner of the downstairs patio. Immediately I know things are not good. This is a tiny kitten, which, mind you, is looking pretty bad. “Oh dear God what am I going to do,” I panic—again, thinking out loud.

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Our last two cats have been rescue cats—but it was not us who went to rescue them but rather it was they who came to us in order for rescue. Peaches, the older of the two made her way into our world almost 6 summers ago. We currently had one cat at the time. Angel, whose name was not representational was by this time about 10 years old. She was rather old and ornery, but she was ours and love her we did.

Peaches literally walked into our lives one summer evening, as she was in the pasture behind our house, walking past us meowing loudly. At the time I thought she must belong to someone nearby. As we live on 5 acres out in a rural area of our county, our neighbors are not simply out our back door. It was the early summer of our son, our only child, having graduated high school. He had already moved to a college almost 2 hours away, wanting to get a jump-start on his independence. Little did I know this orange ball of fur, meowing ever so loudly, would be sent to fill the sudden void in my heart.

The next day, this little orange cat was up a tree in the backyard with Angel sitting at the base of the tree looking as if she had no clue as to how a kitten got up the tree. Seems this kitten was starving. The rest is history as to how Peaches came to be cat number two. Angel died, from the complications of cancer, a few years following Peaches’ arrival. We were back down to only one pet.

You must know that I live with a man who is not a pet person. Our son and I are still trying to figure out what happened to this man as a child to have hardened his heart (however, I did see tears in his eyes when we buried Angel). We’ve had our share of dogs, only to have them come and go—as my husband’s patience with the bad things pets sometimes do to yards and houses, wanes quickly. I’ve heard many a time that “I am not having some animal tear up what I’ve worked so hard for over all these years…” Yada, yada, yada, —as an animal person, I sometimes can’t hear what he’s saying…but I digress.

Cats, however, seem to have the longest staying power around our world. Perhaps it is because I was a packaged deal when my husband married me, as I brought my cat Meschach, to the marriage. We’ve had cats on and off—not many mind you as they do tend to live happy healthy lives with us. So if the truth were told, I believe he has softened somewhat over the years.

But this particular summer afternoon, however, saw me panicking as my husband had said, in no uncertain terms that after Angel’s death, earlier this particular year, we were just a one cat house!! Peaches was indeed that one cat in the house, but here was a crisis in the back of the house and I didn’t know what to do. I took a picture of the pitiful ball and sent it to my husband who was at work. The call back came immediately “Is that a cat?” “Yes.” “We already have a cat, we’re not keeping it!” “It’s in bad shape.” “I’ve got to go.” He was at work remember.

I try picking up the kitten by the scruff of its neck. It’s covered in what appears to be sawdust. Its face is covered in dried blood and its mouth doesn’t look quite right. I go get a bowl of water. It drinks a little. I go back in the house wringing my hands. It’s now late on a Saturday afternoon. I’m not calling a vet as an emergency case; I’ll just have to wait until Monday. I wasn’t even certain if the kitten would make it the remainder of the day.

By the time my husband got home, we went out back. The kitten had crawled out from under the patio, out into the 90-degree plus sun to the pine straw. Those nasty blue flies were already buzzing about—I call those death flies. My husband told me to go get the old cage we had used for Angel when she was sickly. I quickly reassemble it and we brought the kitten in out of the sun to the cool basement. I was convinced the kitten had just crawled out to the straw to die.

I put in a small bowl of water, some cat chips that I soaked in water in order to soften them, a towel and a little litter box. Expecting not to find a living kitten the next morning I leave it for the evening.

Early the next morning I head down to the basement only to be greeted by an alert little kitten. Whoa, it’s alive—and also seemingly a bit perkier than the afternoon before. The remainder of the weekend I attempted to find something it could eat, given the condition of its mouth that was no easy feat.

Early Monday morning I call the vet’s office telling them I have found a stray in really bad shape but that I could not keep the kitten myself. They told me that they could not take it, I’d have to take it out to the county’s animal shelter. “But that’s not a no kill facility!” “Correct, but it’s the only place.” Immediately I simply make the decision—“hell no, this kitten hasn’t survived all of this just for me to take it someplace to be killed…”
I tell the assistant I need to bring it in for an exam.

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I arrived at the vet’s office with the kitten. I proceed to take a seat in the waiting area as I have the kitten sitting in my lap. It is tired and obviously does not feel well. There are two other kittens in a cage in the waiting room playing. These other kittens are rambunctious, all over the place. The small kitten in my lap just stares at them. I notice I have tears welling up in my eyes. Here is a small bundle in my lap who is barely hanging on to life, while those other kittens are having the time of their small happy lives. The irony is not lost on me at this moment in time—joy and suffering meet in one room.

The vet calls us back. She is as alarmed–just as I was when I first saw the kitten. First she tells me that it is indeed a he—I couldn’t quite tell yet as “he” is so small—fitting in the palm of my hand. The vet’s observation is what we had already concluded—someone had thrown this tiny ball from a moving vehicle—it either smacked a sign, a fence, or the pavement. It’s jaw broken, it’s right cheek puff was minus all whiskers and looked more like hamburger meat, it’s remaining teeth a jumbled mess, it’s nose broken, a deep laceration above the right eye, and who knows about damage done to the sinuses. The stuff I thought to be sawdust—maggot eggs. Oh God!!

She gave “him” a shot, the most powerful antibiotic available. She sends home an oral solution I am to apply with a Q tip to the raw right cheek puff and damaged gums. She told me we’d eventually have to remove some of the remaining teeth, as they were now sideways—that is, if he made it. She told me it would need very soft food. I needed to use Johnson’ baby shampoo to bath it and then bush out the maggot eggs.

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I don’t think she thought his odds very good—but I knew differently. Home we went for a much needed bath. He did have an appetite, which I thought to be a most encouraging sign. I kept him in the large cage at night as he was still so small and in feeble shape. I had bought a little lambs wool bed for him and a few toys to occupy him at night. He seemed content and always happy seeing me the next morning. I kept him upstairs with me throughout the day, putting him in his cage when it was time for bed.

All the time I was trying to figure out what his name should be, my husband kept asking me who I was going to be giving him to, as we could not keep him. I thought of his odds of survival and of how bad his sustained injuries had been—all at the hands of some idiot human. I decided on Perseverance, calling him Percy.

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We hadn’t had him two weeks and it was time for my husband and I to go off on a long planned week’s vacation. Our son and his fiancé would have to take over the constant care of Percy, as I was not about to take him to the Vet’s to stay for a week. One of Percy’s teeth was now growing sideways out of his healing mouth. It was eventually going to have to be pulled.

Percy was tenacious and persistent. My son had picked him up bringing him up the stairs when Percy jumped–landing on his head. The tooth broke off. My son panicked thinking he had killed the kitten. But as luck would have it, the jolt knocked out the wayward tooth and all was actually better than before.

Percy began to thrive and I was in love. He needed constant care and I was determined that he should have it. I kept thinking of how badly he had been treated. My husband knew that it was too late, I was in over my head. We were back to being a two cat house.

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At first, Peaches, was not the most welcoming to this usurper but it was apparent that Percy needed the nurturing of an older cat as he persisted vying for her attention. He chose Peaches to be his surrogate mother. She slowly warmed up to her new role of comforter and now the two of them are really quite close. Peaches will growl on occasion warning Percy, like any mom, she needs her space.

Peaches does go outside, but never far from the front porch and then for only an hour or so. Percy is an indoor cat. He does not have teeth on the lower right side of his mouth plus he is very much a big baby. I tried a harness on him for a few outside visits early on but a passing car would send him in a sheer panic—he stays inside now but has the back deck as his “yard” where he enjoys watching the hummingbirds and chases the occasional bee.

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I love them both so much but there is something very special about Percy. He needs me, but I think it is really the other way around– as I am finding that it is really me who needs him. I melt when he looks at me with that misshapen little lower lip poking out as he gently mews acknowledging my glance of affection. I just can’t imagine how people can hurt defenseless animals—that just gets all over me. I simply don’t understand people or the evil in the hearts of people who abuse animals and children.

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Do I believe animals go to Heaven?—you bet I do—God knows how much they mean to us. Some of them, especially service dogs, become extensions of who we are. They are family members, plain and simple. It is my responsibility to take care of them just as I do my son and my husband. And I am most happy doing so. I am thankful that God brought both of these cats into my life, but I rather think my husband may be questioning God a little on both of those decisions 🙂

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3 comments on “My Best Friend

  1. Val says:

    No real love for cats as I am very allergic and they don’t get on well with guinea pigs, but I do understand this love. I will never understand people who do not value life, however, and do such unspeakable things. He’s a cutie. 🙂

  2. nonfatlatte says:

    People who hurt the vulnerable–animals, children, the elderly, the disabled—are missing a key piece of their hearts. I see no hope for them apart from God. I can understand why Percy is your best friend, as Chester is mine. –Elizabeth

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