My family loves cats! And we have some amazing stories that follow the cats in our lives. I want to share just a few of these warm, feel good, true stories with you today.
Blair’s story: Manuka
When I was working as a vet tech with my Aunt Karen at her clinic, we would receive tragic cases of wildlife drop offs because she was the only vet in the area who was a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator. When Manuka was brought in from the streets as a feral cat, he kind of fell into this category. He was a beautiful orange tabby that had run the streets from birth. He was shot by someone with a BB gun and, while running away to find safety, he was hit by a car. He was also FIV positive, as many feral babies are. When he was brought in, we really struggled with rehabilitating him or going the humane euthanasia route because he was in so much pain and was so mangled. He had obviously lived a rough life.
Karen had just started incorporating Manuka healing honey into her arsenal of amazing natural saviors, and we’d had such success on a turkey that we decided to give it a chance. We gave him pain meds and nosodes to keep him comfortable and applied the Manuka healing honey to his badly damaged foot. It was so torn up that it was down to tendon, muscle and bones. Each day, we worked with him and reapplied this honey - and he soon began to heal better than we could have ever dreamed! He started eating and showing us his amazing personality, and you could tell he was just thankful for a safe place, love and peace. He would purr when we administered his meds, and that was so amazing to me.
I was never a cat person and had never owned a cat in my life. When he was fully healed, Karen told me that I needed this cat and he needed me. I was allergic to cats and had no clue what to do as a cat momma, but boy did he spoil me. I switched him to a raw diet and that cured my allergies towards him. I sneaked him into my apartment and fell in love with him for life. He was automatically best friends with my two dogs, my two rats, my rabbit, my snake and my bearded dragon. He head bumped and rubbed up against all of us all the time, and I was sold. He had a funny looking but fur-covered foot from that time, on and he always showed me how grateful he was for the love and care we provided him. He taught me so many amazing things and gave me a new respect for cats, one that I had never had before. He was one of my best friends and was simply the ‘coolest cat’ in the whole world.
I am so blessed to have had the time with him that I did and, even though he lived way longer than he should have, he was gone too soon when I lost him about a year and a half ago. My family, who thought they would never have a cat, was in love with him too. We still talk about him and have pictures of him around our house, because he will always hold a special place in our hearts.
John’s story: Luna and Sam
Because I live on 20 wooded acres in the middle of nowhere, it is sadly a popular spot to dump unwanted animals. I try hard to foster these abandoned animals to loving homes but, every now and then, a bond develops between me or one of my family members and the animal… ‘foster failures,’ as Karen likes to call it. I currently have five dogs (all rescues and another story for another time), but I am secretly a cat lover as well, and this is the story of Luna and Sam… two cats who found their way into our home and our hearts.
Soon after moving into this wonderful ‘cottage in the woods,’ my wife Tabatha was in the garage late one winter night and heard a faint ‘meow’ coming from the other side of the garage door. She opened the door and this sick, dehydrated, matted, starving, grey, feral cat walked right into the garage. She immediately alerted me and, because we didn’t have a cat at the time, we had no cat food to offer. I opened a can of tuna. My daughter Mary had been begging for a cat for over a year and of course pleaded with me to keep her. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that she was one very sick cat. Clearly malnourished, no telling what intestinal issues were there and her left eye was badly damaged. So I agreed that if the cat lived through the weekend, I would take her to the vet first thing Monday morning. Mary didn’t wait and named the cat Luna.
We did all we could for her over the weekend. Monday came and Luna was still alive, so off we went to the vet for a thorough exam and medications. Over the next few weeks, Luna regained her strength and health. Today, it is impossible to tell that she was once a feral cat. She typically insists on being on someone’s lap or in someone’s arms for loving. Head-bumping is her favorite past-time and if there was a way to insert her purring motor into my pillow, I would have the best nights sleep every night. I know without a doubt that Luna knew she was going to die that cold night, and reaching out to us was her last and only hope. To this day, Luna thanks us daily.
About six months later, as I was driving down my long, dark driveway on my way to work at 4:00 in the morning, two eyes reflected off the headlights and I slammed on the brakes, nearly driving over this new and apparently dumped kitten. I grabbed him, drove back to the house, and handed him off to Mary with instructions to find a friend at school who wanted a kitten. Returning from work later that afternoon, it was immediately clear that another foster failure had occurred. Luna was full-grown when she made her way into the house, but Sam was a precious little kitten that Mary just had to keep. It took a few months for Luna and Sam to learn to appreciate each other, but today, they are inseparable.
Karen’s story: Jerry
Growing up, we couldn’t have cats and dogs at the same time because my dad or someone (actually it was my mom) sincerely believed that dogs give cats worms and cats give dogs worms and they both give children worms. (Mom’s note: We tried having a cat and a dog at the same time, twice! Both times, at least one of our three children and/or the cat or the dog had worms all the time! It seemed common-sensical to conclude that they were just passing the worms around!) Eventually, we only had Sooty, our beloved Schnoodle, for 18+ years. (Karen’s note to Mama: it’s a fallacy that people and animals pass worms back and forth.)
Sooty lived until I was in college out of state, and we were dogless (but not birdless or rabbitless!) only three summers before Gemini showed up at the Black Hawk Humane Society and my life changed forever. I knew immediately she was my heart dog. We had a blissful seven years together before she transitioned and I was devastated. Debilitatingly devastated. I was months into grief counseling when my counselor suggested I get a cat. When I angrily replied I don’t ‘get animals,’ (they show up in my life at the time that we need each other), he wisely suggested I ‘open my heart to the concept of a cat entering my life,’ which I was receptive to.
The following week I attended my first board meeting at a local Chicago humane society and, arriving early, I went around saying hello to all of the homeless animals. And there he was. A handsome orange tabby, several cages down, waiting for me as I made my way through the overcrowded homeless cat ward. I stopped at his cage, introduced myself, and felt something shift in me. I opened his cage door and felt my eyes well up as I touched his dull, coarse fur and felt the resonance of his vibration, his quiet purr. He sat there with his eyes closed, purring, until another board member signaled it was time for the meeting.
My mom was in town visiting, and I told her about Jerry (he looked like a Jerry). She suggested we visit him again, and this time we came home with him. I had a long talk with him on the way home that went something like this: “Even though you came in on a trap-neuter-release program, you were not released because you were a tame, nice boy who should live in a home, not on the streets. But living in a home means a lot of respect and compromise with other housemates, and your other housemates will be birds - your evolutionary diet - which may be confusing to you. You must understand that parrots all live cage-free in my house. They live on large tree branches in my house and they must be respected and never, ever looked at as food or a toy, or I will have to promptly return you to that stressful, cramped shelter. So the rules are clear: you will NOT LUST THE BIRDS….and I mean not even a long stare; they must become invisible to you or you won’t be welcome to stay, Jerry.”
I opened the carrier in my living room and let Jerry out. He promptly went into my sun-room, where all the birds were. Naturally the birds became instantly alarmed, seeing their most feared predator, and they began screaming. Jerry calmly walked by each bird, looking briefly at each one. Then he turned and came back into the living room, letting me know he understood the rules perfectly. Jerry not only helped my heart heal, Jerry gave me a whole new understanding and appreciation of the magic of cats, teaching me many lessons I still draw upon today.
And there you have it. Three stories from the Becker households that I hope warms your heart.
Jeannine "Mom" Becker