Okay, so first off, I do realize that this is Sunday, and that I made a post yesterday, as well. All I can say is that this blog is going completely off the rails since I passed a hundred followers. I mean, weekend posts? What’s that about? Next thing you know, I’ll be posting twice a day, or something equally crazy, like actually working on my next novel.
Yeah. That was pretty funny.
Right, so, there is actually a reason I’m posting today, and that’s because it’s something of an anniversary here at my house. A pretty special one, at that. One that reminds me that I do bring good into this world.
First, I want to show you a picture.
That’s a cat. Obviously. Who is totally not stoned, I promise.
More importantly, that’s my cat. Well, one of my cats. I have several. They all look stoned when I take their picture. I don’t know why. I think it’s a cat thing, maybe. Or just that I’m terrible with cameras. All I know, for certain, is that they are not stoned.
The question of just how high my cats are aside, there’s a reason I shared that first picture today. The cat’s name is Merlin, and today is the third anniversary of the day he did not die.
The other cat’s name is Abby, and she’s just kind of a dick, so let’s focus on talking about Merlin instead.
Now, when I say that this is the anniversary of the day he didn’t die, that’s because when I first met Merlin, he looked a bit more like this.
Three years ago today, that was Merlin. If you know much about cats, then you can tell just by looking at him that he is not doing well. In fact, him being alive is something of a miracle, really. So, here’s the story of how it happened, as I originally shared it on my old blogger site, three years ago.
Say Hello To My Little Friend
Now, I know it may be a bit odd for a writer to use their blog to talk about a cat, but there’s a story here, and as a writer, I love to tell stories. Even better, this is a character driven piece. The best part, though, is that it looks like it’s going to have a happy ending.
This story starts just last Wednesday, February 19th, 2014. It was a cool morning, but not cold, as we’ve been having some unseasonably warm weather. I’d gone to work, and was dealing with some problems there, nothing exciting, just the run of the mill stuff you deal with when you work the restaurant business.
My manager, Sam, and I had stepped outside for a smoke, both of us dealing with the general stress of things in the store, when I noticed something else. This is a little thing, but it has major bearing. This story starts with a mop handle. A broken one at that.
On Monday, when I’d come to work, I’d found one of our mop handles broken and left, for no apparent reason, in the kitchen. I’d asked my employer what he wanted me to do with it, since the handles were provided by the linen company that did our laundry. He taped the broken piece down and had me put it with our rag baskets.
Come Wednesday, the mop handle was gone. I asked Sam about it, and she told me Kelly, our boss, had told her to throw it away. Why, I can’t guess, but this is what sent the two of us to check the three dumpsters behind the store. We didn’t find the mop handle, since the trash had run since Kelly had told her to toss it, but in one of the dumpsters, we found a tiny kitten.
I do mean tiny, too. He was maybe five weeks old, but certainly no older. Sam and I looked down at him, and both of us knew, just from looking at him, that he was in a bad way. His eyes were matted, and when he tried to hiss at us, no sound coming out, his gums and tongue were almost white. His inner eyelids were half way up over his eyes. I knew, he wasn’t going to last long.
We couldn’t reach him, so Sam went back inside and got a milk crate for me to stand on so I could. When I picked him up, he weighed almost nothing. I can’t guess how long it had been since he’d last eaten, but judging from his state, if had been quite some time. The kid was on verge of starving to death.
I’m not sure how he came to be in the dumpster, whether he was left there by someone, or had somehow managed to get in it looking for food. All I know is that he was there.
Naturally, he struggled to get away from me, which leads me to think he was a stray that had wandered away from his mother. His attempts were so weak, though. Mostly just flailing about in fear, too weak to really even put up any kind of a fight. Because of how frail he was, it wasn’t easy to hang on to him, though. I feared crushing him if I gripped him too tightly.
Once we got him back inside the store, we put him in a box, a big one that our paper towels come in, and Sam offered to give up her breakfast burrito from McDonald’s so he could at least eat something. It was just egg and cheese, so we unrolled it and laid it out for him, and gave him a small dish of water to drink.
Now, for the stuff some people will complain about. No, we did not take him into the food prep area. He was placed by the back door, near the office door, nowhere near any food prep. Yes, Sam and I both washed our hands before handling food. Obviously, neither of us are idiots. That said, neither are we so heartless as to walk away and leave a kitten to starve to death. Shame on you for having your priorities seriously out of balance.
With the kitten as secured as we could make him, we set about getting the store ready to open. While we worked, both Sam and I took turns giving him little bits of food, as he had utterly devastated the burrito. Seriously, he’d eaten the entire thing and half the tortilla as well.
Once we got things set up, Sam let me pack him up in one of the boxes we get our chicken breasts in, so I could take him home. The box was already empty, clean and dry and waiting to go out to the trash, by the way. The drive home is less than ten minutes, as well, in case someone more cynical than even me was wondering.
I want to take a moment here to thank Sam for not only her incredible generosity, but her kindness and understanding. I’ve no doubt the little guy wouldn’t have lasted the day without her. She covered my station until I got back, as well as her own. She is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful human beings I’ve ever known.
Thanks, Sam. You are fantastic.
Once I got him home, I had to wake Storm to let her know there was a problem. As many of you may know, she battles with insomnia, and is often awake all hours of the night. So, while I hated to wake her from her sleep, I kind of had to.
We have a rule in our lives, Storm and I. Black cats, and especially kittens, in need always get priority over our own needs. In general, we help out cats and dogs whenever we can, and have both been active for many years in rescuing abandoned and abused pets, but black cats are extra special to us both. I’m sure most people can understand why, with the bad reputation they have, through no fault of their own.
As soon as Storm saw what I had in the box, she was wide awake and already on the way to the kitchen to fix the little guy something to eat. Meanwhile, I busied myself setting up a box to hold him. Much like the paper towel box we used at work, only slightly larger and taller to contain him, I put the box I’d brought him home in inside as well, now filled with a folded bath towel. We fixed him up a litter pan, got him some water, and a small bowel of soft food with vitamins and antibiotics mixed in.
Also, the flour tortilla. He had clung to it when I had gathered him up to take him home, so I’d let him keep it. It was, without any doubt, the first thing he’d eaten in a couple days at least. It was no wonder he hung on to it. It had probably saved his life.
He made short work of the food, and attacked the water just as desperately. This was when it happened. The most wonderful thing. The thing that makes doing this sort of work so rewarding. There’s no money in it, and a fair bit of ridicule for doing it, especially in my neck of the woods. There is, though, a moment when it is more worth it than any dollar figure can ever be.
With the little guy, whom Storm had already dubbed Merlin, stashed in a safe place, I got ready to head back to work. As I walked to the door, I heard him start crying. My first thought was that he was in pain, or worse, that our efforts were too little, too late, and he was dying. I hurried back to his box and looked in, only to have him stop crying. He was sitting up, looking up at me.
I smiled, thinking he had just wanted to check and see if we were still there, and went to leave again, only to have him start up the crying once more. I went back, again, and looked in, only to have him stop. I got it that time, and as I leaned down to reach for him, he reached back for me.
Only two hours before, he couldn’t muster the strength to run from me. Now, he was reaching for me. There is nothing in the world that feels better. Nothing.
Storm says, “That’s it. I’ll be right back.” She went and got another bath towel, the second we had dedicated to him that morning, and wrapped him up in it. He was quiet when I left to go back to work that time.
Storm spent the day holding him in her lap, wrapped in a towel, as he purred. By the time I got home, his body temperature was much closer to normal. Still, we knew we had to have a place to put him while we slept, or ate, or tended to the other pets in our care.
This was how Pandora lost her room. Pandora, by the way, is our dog. She’s not a big dog, but a solidly built medium sized one, and she loves cats. I mean, she really just adores them. However, she’s kind of excitable and a little clumsy, so we have a large dog carrier that she goes in when she needs a time out, or we go to bed.
Pandora is almost two now, though, so we decided she didn’t really need a carrier anymore. We cleaned it out, and moved Merlin in. While it’s rather spacious, it’s what we had. Merlin is still very small, and somewhat scared as he adjusts to his new life. Our other cats are pretty big, and while they aren’t mean, they would be intimidating to someone so tiny and frail. For the moment, the carrier was the best place for him to make his recovery.
Which, I need to say, I wasn’t sure he was going to. He was in very bad shape when I found him, and I didn’t know if he was even going to live through the night. Still, if nothing else, he wasn’t going to die cold and hungry. I could give him that much, at the very least.
It’s now Saturday, the 22nd of February, and after four days, I’m happy to say he is making a complete recovery. His eyes are clear, with the inner lid fully recessed. His tongue and gums are a vibrant pink, growing better every day. His weight is growing, and he is energetic, playful, and affectionate.
Just yesterday, I was holding him in my lap as he rolled on his back, gave me his tummy to rub, while he licked and play bit my fingers. He purrs so loud you can hear it from several feet away, though he hardly ever meows, unless he wants some more food. Even then, it’s more of a soft squeak than anything.
Merlin’s story begins with me and Sam trying to figure out why Kelly told her to throw away a mop handle he told me to save. Without that odd event, we never would have even known he was out there. At least, not until it was too late.
I’m not going to question that odd event, mind you. I’ve experienced enough strange things like that in my life to know it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Merlin is alive, well, and growing stronger. That’s all that matters.
His health improves daily, as does his energy. He plays with the toys that so many other kittens like him have enjoyed. The difference here, though, is that Merlin won’t be heading out to another home when he is fully recovered, as so many of those that pass through our home do. He’s staying here, with us.
He’s our little touch of magic.
Yes, his story starts with an odd twist, but hopefully, it doesn’t end there. With a lot of love and care, his story will go on for many years yet. He’s so young, so tiny, and has such a sweet disposition. I can’t wait to see how big and strong he grows.
And here we are, three years later. Merlin is still very much alive, has gotten kind of fat actually, and believe it or not, still likes to hang out in that dog carrier. He still has a litter pan and a towel in there, and that’s where he goes to sleep. Door is always open, unless he closes it to make Pandora leave him alone, but I guess it ended up feeling like a pretty special place to him, since he chooses to spend so much time there.
I know I’ve said on more than one occasion that my life is sometimes kind of weird. This is exactly what I mean by that. Odd coincidences happen to me a lot. I don’t know why, and I’m certainly not calling it fate or God or anything like that, as none of it is life altering stuff.
Well, not for me. For Merlin, it ended up being pretty life altering, I’d say. That’s still something, even if I don’t know what.
Happy anniversary, little guy. It’s been three years since we met, and you’re still my favorite little miracle.