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SORE PAW MY FOOT!

The other day we took our cat, Pete, to the vet. Overnight, he’d gone from limping on his front right leg to hopping on three legs. Pitiful.

We expected he’d stepped on something sharp or had been injured roughhousing with our other cat. We were concerned he might have an abscess. Poor baby.

Our attempts to examine the paw resulted in him hissing at us and threatening to bite. Obviously, he was in terrible pain.

Suddenly I felt bad for refusing to share my strawberry yogurt with Pete that morning. It’s his favorite treat. The guilt was overwhelming.

I called the vet and fortunately they had an immediate opening. We coaxed him into the pet carrier and whisked him away to receive the medical care he deserved. We prayed we weren’t too late.

After the doctor examined the patient, he confirmed our cat had a sore paw. He assured us it would probably be fine in a few days and gave us a syringe filled with medicine. Just squirt it in the cat’s mouth, he said. Or on top of his favorite food. He sent us and the cat home to take a nap.

When we got home, I scooped a spoonful of strawberry yogurt into a pretty little bowl and mixed in the medicine. I sat the bowl on the floor and called kitty-kitty. Pete hobbled over to the bowl like a dead man walking and sniffed. I held my breath. When he began to lap up the yogurt I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe he’d make it after all.

The moment he finished the yogurt, he licked his lips and scampered off into the living room. He found his favorite ball and had himself a rousing game of “Pounce the Ping Pong” – a game that requires four fully-functioning paws. It’s a fast-paced game, violent at times, and he played until he wore himself out. Then he jumped up on the couch for a bath and a nap.

Amazed that he’d made such a quick recovery, I googled the name of Pete’s medication. I had to know more about this miracle drug.

The more I read, the more I realized we’d been scammed. Turned out, the clear liquid in the syringe was nothing more than a kitty aspirin. It hadn’t even had time to kick in before Pete began romping around like a three-year-old on a sugar high.

I still don’t know whether to be mad or impressed that Pete is that smart. All I know is it cost me $56.00 and Pete got the yogurt he wanted. All I can say is this:  Don’t mess with me, cat. I’m on to you…

KITTENS!

We’ve had a little miracle here at the Allen house. Actually, five little miracles. After weeks of waiting and anticipation, and praying that the kids would get to witness the birth, Honey had her kittens on April 1.

Tension hung in the air on that Sunday morning when she began having contractions. They weren’t regular or hard enough to produce kittens, so we made the decision to go on to church. My daughter sketched Honey and her prediction of five kittens during the sermon. I have to admit my mind wandered as well, and I hoped more than once we weren’t missing the big event. After the service, we skipped the coffee and muffins and raced home, the same question on all our minds. We found Honey as we’d left her, perched on top of an old microwave cart, looking out the window. We were happy and a little disappointed at the same time.

That afternoon, around 4:30, I was sitting with her, dozing off and on, when I noticed a significant contraction. Five minutes later she had another one. Five minutes after that she had a stronger one. I knew it was time.

My son sat nearby at the computer, working on a book report. I told him the big event was about to take place and he’d better go notify his father and sister. Soon the whole family gathered around Honey, staring at her undulating midsection. I’ll spare you the gory details, but about an hour later the first kitten was born. My kids, 14 and 11, sat in amazement as they watched the birth. Their smiles told the story – I didn’t have to ask what they thought.

In order of appearance, we have one calico, three grey kittens (the third of which has a tan mask just above his eyes) and one mixture of white and orange tabby. All healthy. All beautiful.

The miracle of new life has brought a few changes to our routine. Before school, the kids take turns scooping litter, giving Honey food and fresh water, changing the pillowcase in the bottom of the laundry basket. But mostly, they sit and watch Honey care for her kittens.

Besides enjoying the baby-stage of the kittens, I hope they’ll learn something more important. When they watch the kittens nursing from their purring mother, falling asleep as she snuggles close to protect them, receiving momma’s kisses as she keeps them clean, I hope they will understand that Honey’s selfless devotion to her offspring—a 24/7 endeavor—is motivated by a mother’s love. I hope my kids will imagine that when they were infants they were cared for in the same tender manner. Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Because they were.

MEET HONEY

We recently took in a pregnant stray cat. On purpose. Temporarily. 

Kim, an acquaintance of mine, works with a local cat rescue group. These kindhearted folks track down abandoned pets and feral cats around apartment complexes, businesses and neighborhoods. They find foster homes, like ours, where the animals are cared for and loved on until they can find a good home for them. They also rescue cats from shelters to prevent them from being euthanized when their time runs out.

Honey is one of the cats they rescued.

My daughter, Sarah, and I have talked about fostering a pregnant cat for a couple of years now. At age 11, she loves all things soft and furry, especially things that sit on your lap and purr. So do I.

The cat arrived two weeks ago. Kim said we could name her. For a week, we observed her behavior, got to know her personality. Sarah posted a list on the refrigerator with all the suggested names. Over dinner last week, we had a vigorous debate over the possible names. It rivaled the upcoming presidential election in terms of loyalty to individual candidates. After a vote, “Honey” emerged as the winner. We all agreed that because of her color, and because she is so sweet, we’d made a fitting choice.

The plan is that once the kittens are weaned, Honey will go to another foster home. After her milk dries up she’ll be spayed and then, after she recovers from surgery, she’ll be put up for adoption.

Now, don’t tell my husband, but I’d like to be the first in line.

I know…I know. We made it clear to the kids that we couldn’t keep any of the kittens, no matter how cute they were. We already have two cats. They understood. So I shouldn’t even think about it, but…she is the sweetest little thing.

When the time comes, I sure am going to miss her. But at least I’ll have the peace of knowing that we made a home for her during her time of need. And in this ever-darker world we live in, we will have done one small thing to combat the notion that life—any life—is dispensable, rather than a precious gift from God, worthy of love.