Thursday, September 29, 2011

9 Lives

Cats are supposed to have nine lives, and my cat Doc knew how to use them. When we moved from the city, he was just as lost as the rest of us. My parents insisted on sending the cuddly feline out into the unknown, only allowing him to enter when he was hungry. We couldn’t leave his food out, or the mouths would multiply.

Doc was all white with the tiniest patch of black on top of his head, right between his ears. He earned his name because he reminded us of a doctor in a lab coat. Okay, I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s the story I’m sticking with.

At night he’d jump on my window, claws sticking through the screen. He’d cry and scratch, and I’d let him in. Over time the two of us formed a bond so strong, I’d call to him as soon as the bus dropped me off after school and Doc would bound down the rock-lined driveway, tail sticking straight up, and rub figure eights around my ankles.

One day, he didn’t greet me and immediately I knew something was wrong.

“Where do you think he could be?” I asked Kris.

“I’m sure he’s just eating a mouse or something.”

Mouse carcasses were common things to find on our back porch. “Yeah, you’re probably right,” I said, frowning.

But when we reached the house Doc still wasn’t anywhere to be found. I looked under beds, under cars, in the barn, under the porch—anywhere I thought he might hide, I searched.

My legs bounced. My heart raced. Somewhere deep inside I knew he was hurt, but I had no proof.

Mom and Dad arrived home, and I was sick with worry. Dinner wouldn’t go down. Tv wasn’t interesting. I went out back and called for him over and over but received no response.

No little meows. No soft affections. No nothing.

The sun lowered, disappearing below the Texas horizon. Dad grabbed a flashlight and together we went outside.

“Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty,” I called.

The crickets responded with constant chirping, but Doc remained wherever he was.

Me—chirp, chirp—ow.

“Did you hear that?” Dad asked.

I ran toward the trailer then stuck my ear to the plywood dad nailed along the bottom, listening for signs of life. Faint meows met my ears.

Dad ran up the stairs and into the house then returned with a hammer.

We pried the plywood back and found Doc lying on the ground. He was swollen and from the way he slowly moved his head toward us, we could tell he was stiff.

Dad slid on his stomach, reaching for the cat, and after what seemed like an eternity, he pulled my little friend out.

Puss and blood oozed from a wound at the base of his tail.

Tears streamed down my face. “W-What’s wrong with him?” I fell to the ground and rubbed my hand over his soft head.

“Looks like a snake bite . . . .”

We brought Doc in the house and made him comfortable for the night. It was too late to take him to the vet, but my dad promised we’d go in the morning. When the morning came, Doc was still with us. We put him in a box with some blankets and drove to the nearest vet clinic. They confirmed he’d been bitten by a non-venomous snake, and they needed to clean him up.

“She should wait outside,” the actual doc said, glancing at me.

Mom and Dad took me into the waiting room. I couldn’t understand why everyone wanted me away. Doc was my kitty, he needed me, I’d like to think he wanted me. But as the vets worked on him, Doc cried ear-piercing, mind-numbing cries of agony. My head pounded. My heart ached. Listening to him howl was awful, and it was the reason I decided to change my mind about becoming a veterinarian.

A couple hours later, the doctors brought a sedated and bandaged little kitty out to me and sent us home—my parents with a hefty bill and me with my best friend. After that experience he never had to scratch my window screen to get in; I refused to let him out of my sight.


  1. And second: awesome post. You brought tears to my eyes.... :)

  2. aww, Poor Doc. Luckily he had your love to get him through :)

  3. Ahh, JKP, you're getting good at this. ;-)

    Thanks, Ninja Gal. I loved that little fur ball.

  4. Anonymous9/29/2011

    Such a lovely story of the bond between you and your cherished cat. Good post!

  5. Thank you, thepondhopper (Okay, when I was just typing your name, it made me think of the clapper. Don't ask why. I have no answer). That cat was always getting into trouble.

  6. I'm glad the kitty survived. I hate to see animals suffering--especially beloved pets. I hope he lived to a ripe old age after.

  7. Yes, he lived a long always-getting-into-trouble life. ;-)

  8. Anonymous9/29/2011

    Ahh! The bond between human and animal. We had to go a few years without animals in our home due to my daughter's allergies. I always felt as though something was missing. So glad to have a furry friend back in our house! And I'm so glad Doc made it through ok. Thank goodness you listened to your gut and kept looking for him.

  9. Lovely story:) Our attachments to animals are neverending. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Good story! It reminded me of why I keep my cat inside. I live near several eagle nests, and I once saw an eagle pick up a cat and carry it away. My cat became a house cat that day.

  11. Jen, I can relate. I get so frustrated with animals, but love them dearly.

    Tania, You're welcome. Definitely love all things cute and cuddly.

    Thank you, E.R.. I keep all my kitties inside, too. I can't believe an eagle picked a cat up!

  12. I was sooo scared! This reminded me of the time my dog, Jasper, was attacked by another dog. :( He was okay though. lol.

  13. Aw, poor Jasper. Glad he was okay. I hate when animals get hurt.

  14. Thanks, Sarah. He was a sweet kitty. :-)

  15. glad that had a happy ending...

    Great little tale. And you told it so well.

  16. Gotta love the happy endings! :-) Thank you.


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