The Crankee Yankee and I once adopted a stray cat who had been on the streets for a long time. He had half-healed cuts on his chest and neck, and was pretty thin. We immediately took him to our vet, who checked him all over, attended to the cuts, gave him his shots and microchipped him. This was our Pepper (to see more about Pepper, see my older posts “The Christmas Cat,” and “Love in the Shape of a 12-lb. Cat”), and we had him for nine and a half months.
Pepper had an incurable hereditary heart condition, which meant lots of special meds and no more going outside. Twice we had to rush him to the animal emergency room as fluid built up so much that his heart was threatened. After treatment, he was fine. We knew that his condition would eventually kill him, but while we had him, he was well-cared for and was loved deeply. He made friends with our two cats, Nala and Pookie, and even began to play, which was hilarious–he had very long legs, and he looked like a giraffe playing soccer. He had an endearing habit of perching on your shoulder like a parrot, his purr loud and happy in your ear.
Coincidently, at the time the Crankee Yankee found Pepper, he was about to have radiation therapy for prostate cancer. While he went through it as gracefully as he could, it took a lot out of him, and he needed to rest frequently. During those days, Pepper stayed close to him and napped with him. At night, he slept on the Crankee Yankee’s pillow, right above his head. It was just as though Pepper had been called to him to comfort him through radiation.
Once the therapy was finished, Pepper still stayed close, and was a warm and constant presence. The Crankee Yankee always said that he was his own “therapy cat.” Unfortunately, Pepper’s disease progressed, and the time came when he stopped eating, and we knew he was in pain. It broke our hearts take him to our vet and have him put to sleep. We felt we had done the best we could for him, and were glad we had been able to give him a good life while we had him.
In time, the Crankee Yankee happened to meet the people who’d owned him, and asked why the cat was on the street for so long. They said that he seemed to want to be out all the time, and he stayed out more and more. One day they didn’t see him, and months went by without him returning.
Now, I ask you–if you have a cat that likes to be outdoors, why in the world would you not care where he is? Or put a collar on him with an address and phone number on it? Or just care enough to put up a sign and a picture to find him? As they told the Crankee Yankee, they “wondered” where he went.
The Crankee Yankee is not very tolerant of people who are lax about their animal’s care, but he held it together and told the past owners Pepper’s story. They did fill in one blank for us, that Pepper’s actual name was “Sprocket,” and that he was about 12 years old.
When we relayed all this to our vet, who, by the way, adores cats–he said that too often people regard cats as “second class citizens.” I have always wondered why there is no law to register cats as you would a dog–why is that?
Just think; because the Crankee Yankee was there at the right time and place, he rescued a wonderful cat who in turn comforted him through radiation therapy. They both helped each other, and that cat was no second class citizen–he was our hero.