In July of 2007, my wife noticed a cat on our street that was so thin, it resembled a walking skeleton. It looked tired and walked slowly with a slight limp. When she approached it, she saw a red streak across the back of its neck and thought it might be hurt. But, the cat wouldn’t let her get close enough to see clearly. So, we rented a rusty trap and tied a long string to the trigger plate. When the cat walked inside to eat, we pulled the string and caught her.
It turns out, that red streak was a bright red dog collar someone had put on her as a kitten. She had gotten her left arm through the oversized collar and then she grew until the collar became so tight that it cut into her chest and left armpit.
When we caught her, she smelled like rotten meat and had maggots in her chest. She was between one-and-a-half and two years of age, but only weighed four pounds. It took about 18 months of open-wound management for her to completely heal.
We didn’t know what to name her, so I asked GOD for some inspiration. Later, I had a dream about a little girl. She pointed at the cat as if she recognized it and said “that’s Isabelle.” Izzy is our little angel. She loves to chase string.
During the summer and fall of 2007, our next-door neighbor had a male cat that she often left outside. During this time, a mean grey tom prowled the neighborhood, mercilessly attacking all contenders. He relentlessly came after our neighbor’s cat. I broke up several fights and pleaded with her to please keep her cat inside as much as possible. But, she didn’t.
At the end of September, our neighbor was going through a difficult time personally and financially, and our landlord asked her to vacate. Out of compassion, we agreed to help her clean her house and we paid to have her cat neutered. On the 5th of October, she disappeared, abandoning the house and the cat. We finished the cleaning and we named the cat Charlie.
Charlie was covered in scabs. As he healed, the crisscrossing scabs would peel off in a grid-like pattern. He healed well and has no physical scars, but the trauma of his ordeal has left him with emotional scars. For a long time he was afraid of our cats. Even now, when he sees a cat outside, especially a grey one, he becomes extremely anxious and fixated, sometimes even violent. Perhaps someday, when we can afford to move to a place of our own, he will be out of his old familiar territory, and his anxiety will subside.
Charlie has a cute pale-pink nose, a stubby little tail and his face reminds me of the cartoon cat Sylvester. Sometimes I’ll say “Look, there goes a prime example of the species Felis Sylvesteris, more commonly known as the pink-nosed, stubby-tailed Charlie.” He is a cuddle-bug.
In December 2007, a co-worker at my wife’s company saw a small three-to-four-month-old kitten sitting on a brick wall in her backyard. Being a rather cold and unsheltered spot, the co-worker assumed the kitten wouldn’t stay there long. But, after two days, the kitten was still there as if it had nowhere to go. Since this co-worker is allergic to cats, she brought the kitten to work and turned to my wife for help. My wife has since instructed co-workers to turn cats over to shelters rather than bring them to her.
My wife first introduced me to Clara by setting her on my chest while I was laying on the couch. Right away, Clara boldly walked up to my face and proceeded to lick and nibble on my nose and my ears. It’s still something she likes to do now and then. When Clara wants to be petted, she doesn’t take no for an answer. However, if you want to pet her, it must be on her terms. No unauthorized petting allowed!
Clarabelle and Isabelle are like a couple of southern bells. It’s as though they were meant to be sisters.
On February 7th, 2008, I accompanied my wife to her work, as I often do, to lend a helping hand. There is almost always a lot going on there and we usually don’t get away until sometime after 7:00 P.M. On that day, however, things worked out quite differently and we got away between 4:30 and 5:00 P.M., which was most unusual.
On the way home we saw a cat crouched down on the other side of the road. This cat was about two feet into the roadway, and the oncoming traffic was passing so close that his fur was blowing wildly, yet he wouldn’t move. He seemed totally stunned. We thought he had been hit, and at any moment, he could be fatally crushed by an unwary motorist. Of course, we had the option to ignore him and just keep on driving like everyone else. But as always, our hearts wouldn’t let us.
I stepped out of the car and, when there was a large-enough gap in traffic, I walked over to him. He looked up at me and gave me one sad, gravelly meow. I carefully picked him up and put him in our car.
He was bleeding out of one eye and his paws were bloody too. A vet examined him and said that he hadn’t been hit. She said that his injuries were consistent with being tossed out of a moving car onto asphalt, and that sadly, she sees these type of injuries quite often.
Sammy was healthy, well groomed and already fixed. We had a difficult time believing that a cat like him would have been deliberately abandoned. What if he had accidently crawled into the back of a pickup truck or something? His family might be missing him terribly. We hung laminated signs and placed several ads for weeks. We also took photos and thoroughly canvassed the entire area, but no one ever claimed him.
Sometimes Sammy is a little moody. We think he has abandonment issues. He pouts if we are gone for too long. Otherwise, he is a friendly guy. When Sammy wants his belly rubbed, he will walk over to you and suddenly flop upside-down against your side.