The veterinarian opened the door and said, “You can come back and look at the x-rays now.” As my wife and I examined the film of Miss Kitty’s left front leg the break was evident even to the untrained eye. “The bone shows no sign of healing after a month in the splint”, he explained. We had anticipated the bad news but still were saddened by it. “Doctor, what do you recommend that we do now?”, I asked, perhaps knowing the inevitable. “Well, she is over fourteen years old and I don’t think will ever heal. I think the humane thing to do is to put her to sleep. She will never be able to do the things that cats normally do.”
On a spring day in 1997 close friends brought us this little kitten that had wandered up to their home. She was a ball of black and white fur that needed a new home. Who could resist this kind of temptation? We took her in as an adopted member of our family.
She was not overly tame and hated to be picked up and cuddled. She loved to climb up tall trees and appear to be stranded. Early on she climbed to the top of the tallest tree on our lot and remained there for several days. No coaxing would get her down. Clara fretted and worried that she would starve to death. But, I reminded her that I had never seen a cat skeleton in a tree. Finally a crew from the Co-op drove their bucket truck to our house with plans to pluck Miss Kitty from the tree limb. When they arrived, they discovered that she had already climbed down herself.
As she aged she mellowed out somewhat. She loved to be petted, but on her own terms. If she walked up to you and plopped down on the floor, that was her sign that she wanted some loving. She liked for us to lay on the floor beside her and talk to her while we stroked her fur. She still hated to be picked up and held. We decided that she must have been an abused kitten in her very early years.
She also hated to ride in the car. We purchased a pet carrier to put her in whenever we had to transport her somewhere, like the vet or the boarding house. She “squalled” the whole time she was in the car. She usually spent the days outside exploring her territory, but enjoyed spending the nights in the house. In fact, she normally would wait until we both retired to bed, then she would jump upon the bed and lay on my feet, always mine and not Clara’s.
She never ventured far from home. She would occasionally walk to our neighbor’s house where Brooksie would feed her and talk to her. Larry’s dog, Emmy, came over most every day and visited with Miss Kitty. They finally reached the point that they would tolerate each other.
Several years ago she barely escaped the clutches of a large hawk who swooped down to pick her up. However, she was a little too large for the bird, but suffered several deep puncture wounds in her flank. She recovered from that injury without difficulty.
Last fall we did not see her for several days, which was unusual. We concluded that she may have been killed by stray dogs, but we found her curled up in her favorite chair on the patio. It was not until she jumped down that I saw her front leg dangling, obviously broken. Cats don’t do well on just three legs. The mystery is still unanswered - how did she break her leg? There were no other injuries. I think she climbed up a tall tree and fell out, after all she was fourteen years old, equivalent to an 85 year old human.
The vet was not optimistic, but he gave us two options - amputation or a splint to see if the bones would heal together. Now we were hearing the results of that action, and they were not good.
“Let us think about this for a minute”, I told the vet. “What do you think, honey?”, I asked. “Well, I think we gave her a good chance to heal and it looks like she is not going to”, she whispered. I glanced over my shoulder and saw her in the cage, still begging to get out. Now we were about to make a life-or-death decision about our faithful pet.
It was painful for us to walk out of the vet’s office hearing our Miss Kitty meowing in her cage, knowing what was about to happen to her. Were we letting her down, or were we doing the right thing for her? We both swallowed hard and kept walking to our car. The house seemed a little empty when we returned, and it still does.
Some people believe that our animal pets go to Heaven when they die. I have never found any scripture in the Bible that supports this, but it might be a nice surprise that God has for us. If it is true, Miss Kitty will be perched on a limb on the highest tree there waiting on us to arrive.
BY: NEAL MURPHY
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972