Animal stories are real heartwarmers. Some make you laugh and some will make you want to cry.
Years before I ever dreamed of wanting to be a cat breeder, my wife Bonnie mentioned to me at breakfast how she would like to have a little kitten. I thought that her wish was a little unusual. We had never had a cat or kitten before that I could remember. Still, I filed her request in the back of my mind for future reference.
Providence? I don’t know for sure, but as luck would have it, later that day I was getting gas at the Racetrack Gas Station. I was standing in line to pay for my gas, when the clerk asked me would there be anything else? I thought about it for about a half a second and said to myself, “I bet Bonnie would like a candy bar.” So, I asked the clerk to wait a second and I went to the candy shelves and almost got her a “3 Musketeers,” her favorite. Before I grabbed one, I had second thoughts. What if she doesn’t want a candy bar? Maybe, I’d better get her a Snickers, because I like Snickers and if she didn’t want one, I’d eat it, better get the kind that I like, just in case.
As I reached my hand under the second shelf to grab a Snickers, a little multi colored paw reached out and swatted my hand away. Wait a minute, I thought. There isn’t supposed to be any critters in the store. I made another grab for the candy bar and just like before, a brown and white paw reached out to swat me. This time I was ready and reached way into the back and grabbed a ball of fur, that came out spitting and sputtering. Low and behold, it was a kitten. A calico kitten. Just what the doctor ordered.
Knowing that the kitten didn’t belong on the candy shelf and half hoping that it was abandoned, I asked the girl behind the register if the kitten was hers or if she knew anything about it. She replied no, when I asked if I could have it, she told me, “yeah sure, it don’t belong here.”
I unbuttoned the front of my shirt and stuck the cute little critter in there, pumped my gas and went home to show Bonnie her surprise and surprised she was. “Where did you get that?’ I had a tough time selling her on the fact that I found her on the candy shelf at the Racetrack, but since there wasn’t any other logical explanation, I think she finally believed me.
The kitten was very small. She must have been the runt. Most people have an affection for runts. This was the cutest little calico that you ever saw. She was minus a tail, which just made her that much cuter. Because of the missing tail, we named her “Bobbi.” It seemed to fit and she took right to it.
Bobbi was a playful little spitfire and seemed happy to have a home. We bought her toys, kitty foods of all sorts, a kitty bed and a litter box. I don’t know is she didn’t like the Dollar Store brand of kitty litter or not, she seemed to have a will of her own, she wouldn’t use it. Instead she always went to the door and scratched, then waited for someone to open it.
As Bobbi got older she seemed to like to go outside more and more. After a long while, we noticed the back of her neck had been chewed upon. It wasn’t long after that, we noticed that she was pregnant. Little Bobbi was gonna be a mommy.
She started spending more time indoors, occasionally using the litter box, but most times she would be pawing at the door to go out. Even after her litter was born, four cute little rascals, she preferred the great outdoors, rather than the safe confines of being indoors.
She didn’t come back in one night. I usually heard her scratching to get back in to take care of her kittens, but not that night. The next morning, I opened the door to go look for her and there she was, a crumpled heap at the foot of the steps leading into the house.
I spoke pleasantly to her, “There you are, you naughty girl, where have you been?’ She didn’t respond and I heard a strange meow coming from her and knew immediately that something was wrong. I went down the steps to grab her and I could tell by the way that she was curled up, that something was wrong. She tried to move, the front legs were working but the back legs just dragged behind her. Her hind legs were useless. My immediate thoughts were that a dog had caught up with her and messed her up. She was so tiny, that it was hard for me to imagine her surviving any kind of attack from a dog.
This was our first cat and she had a new litter inside the house that was about 4 weeks old. I scooped her up and took her to the nearest Vet. After examining, her the Vet said that she was paralyzed permanently. This was a shock, she was still nursing, how could this be happening?
I asked the Vet if he could tell if it was a dog that attacked her and he told me no. He said that from the bite marks on her back, it looked like a big male cat had grabbed a hold of her trying to force her to mate and had snapped her spine. I told him about her litter of kittens and asked if she could still nurse, would she live, could she be helped in anyway? All of the questions, that run through your mind when you hear such terrible news.
He told me that he thought that she could still nurse. He didn’t know how much longer she would live. He didn’t think that she could control her bowels and that I might have to clean up after her. I told him he didn’t know Bobbi, that she had a strong will to survive, stronger than anything I’ve seen lately. I told him of my youngest brother that was crippled from birth. He always found a way to surprise you and made it in spite of what people thought.
Bobbi was like that too. She faithfully nursed her babies. I did have to clean up her poop, but she tended to her youngins. She started walking around the house on her front legs, not dragging her body, but balancing her self on her front paws, poop would be hanging out of her rear end sometimes, while I reached for a wash cloth to clean her up.
This went on for about two more weeks. Bobbi walking every where she wanted to go on her front paws. It reminded me of someone trying to walk on a pair of stilts. The Vet had warned me that her body functions would shut down because of her paralysis, she didn’t have a chance for longevity. I kept half hoping that he was wrong. I didn’t want her to suffer, but because I had grown to love her, I didn’t care about the extra trouble, I would take care of her as long as she lived.
One day after her kittens were weaned, she paraded to the front door on her front legs and waited for me to open it. I did, not knowing if I was doing the right thing or not, this is what she wanted and she always got her way. I watched her walk down the steps on her front paws. Thinking that some sunshine would do her some good, I left her alone. Looking for her a few minutes later, she was gone. She had just disappeared. I called for her until I was blue in the face but with no luck. Bobbi was gone. I looked and looked for her, to no avail. I combed the neighborhood, calling her name. I quit looking for her, thinking that this is how she wanted it. She had nursed her babies and had held on as long as she could. I firmly believed that she just wanted to crawl off into the woods and let nature take its course.
Looking back now, I wish that I had done things different. I can’t tell you how many times I wish that I could kick myself in the butt. I never saw her again. Bobbi was tough, tough as they come for a “little bit.” When I think I have it tough or that hard times are getting the best of me, I think about Bobbi, poor girl, she never gave up.
I don’t eat candy bars anymore, but when I see a Snickers commercial on TV, I think of Bobbi.