Confessions of a Cat Breeder
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by Robin Doll
Where to begin--I got Honey when she was half-grown, she was the last of the litter that a friend's cat had had. I just told her to drop the little darling off while I was bagging groceries for minimum wage. This was eleven years ago. I came home from my job at Albertson's and my mom said, "Robin, there's a wild cat somewhere in this house. I want you to find it and take care of it. I can't get within ten feet of the little beast." I found the "beast" under the spare bed that my brother used to use until he left for college.
She had the most feral, mistrusting eyes I'd ever seen! I thought she was beautiful, though. I could see that she had mostly black fur with white feet, a white bib and a splotch of white on her muzzle. I had to grab her when she refused to come out on her own and she slipped through my hands like quicksilver. Luckily I'd closed the door so she, in her fervent desire to escape ran straight into it. Poor kitty. I cradled her in my lap and stroked her little head, cooing that she was "mine forever". She just looked at me as if to say, "Shut up".
She got her name after I had moved to Boise and my roomate Cyndi heard me calling her Honey all the time. I also called her Baby and Sweetie but Honey seemed to stick and soon everyone called her that.
About year later I had had a so-so evening with my boyfriend and he was already on his way to work when I went outside and found my cat Honey crying on the sidewalk, having been shot twice. She was holding up one of her white paws, blood hitting the pavement in penny-sized drops. I looked at her, instantly regretful that I had let her out. She bothered me all day to give her some freedom and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to let her go out and enjoy the sunshine while I had some quality time with Henry. “Well, go on then,” I had said pettishly, holding the screen door open. She looked back at me with her green-yellowy eyes and I almost changed my mind, then she climbed over the fence and was off through the weeds. I spent the day dusting and scrubbing floors then Henry came back from visiting his parents. I forgot all about my cat, having let her out for whole days since I acquired her from someone wanting to unload the last of her cat’s litter. That was ten years ago and after tons of false alarms when I patrolled the many neighborhoods I lived in only to find her up a tree or atop someone’s tool shed I figured she knew enough to stay out of the road.
I scooped her up and ran upstairs. I put her down and tweaked her leg and it just hung there with her paw curled beneath her. She just glared at me, telling me that professional care was required at once, the expensive sort. Honey was debiting my bank account with her eyes. After grabbing a novel for the waiting room, I packed her into her pet taxi and we were off. It had to be serious, since she was too upset to stick her paws out of the holes in the door to her carrier.
We were at the clinic for a good two hours. I spent a king’s ransom on x-rays alone. Her leg was broken, just as I feared. The x-rays revealed that she had been shot with a pellet gun, once in her right shoulder and once in her abdomen. I stood there in the examination room, staring at the ghostly image of Honey’s skeleton on the wall. “Someone shot my cat?” I whispered. The doctor nodded and said that this was happening all the time. He went on to say that both pellets exited, and the stomach wound was minor as that pellet just grazed the fat pad. Some metal fragments were visible in the shoulder area, but luckily her internal organs were spared. The doctor assured me that Honey would live, but that she might lose the leg.
They don’t do fracture repairs at the emergency clinic, so I would have to take her to a regular vet on Monday. I drove her back home in a daze and spent the weekend touching her paw at the end of her pink-bandaged leg, making her flex her claws. I saw a marathon of America’s Next Top Model and cried along whenever another girl was cut from the herd. Then someone would call and get the bad news. “Do you want to watch obscure films and eat some Baklava?” “Oh, no thank you. I’d rather watch girls bawl in front of hard-faced judges and try to stimulate Honey’s leg.” It was a weekend to remember.
I found a vet that told me he could save her leg, and learned how to squirt medicine into my cat’s mouth twice daily. Henry moved out, I had known since Memorial Day that it was only a matter of time and circumstance. I painted the apartment, and took Honey to the vet at insane hours of the morning. This whole experience shot a sliver of pissed-off into my demeanor. I work in customer service for a prominent satellite T.V. company and sometimes while trying to explain billing to someone with a passel of brats squalling in the background, I wanted to throw my headset across the room. Luckily, I get free T.V. service as one of my perks so when I was too poor to go out I still had syndicated cartoons to watch.
I used to put baby bonnets on Honey during parties, to her chagrin. I have photos of her sporting New Years Eve tiaras as well. Last Halloween I got her a witch outfit at the dollar store and managed to get the pointy hat on her but she drew the line at donning the cape. All my friends know how much I adore my cat. When I was telling Cyndi about Honey being shot we were on the phone and we were both crying. I think that each and every one of my friends breathed a sigh of relief when they found out that she wasn't going to be an amputee.
Today, it’s like it never happened. She had to wear a pin in her shoulder for two months,
but Honey has regained full use of her leg. She hates loud noises even more than she used to,
but I can live with that. Usually, I don’t even think of how I once dropped a thousand dollars
to have her put back together. I still daydream of finding the culprit, just so I could send
him, or her, a picture of Honey with a note saying something like: “You missed!”
Robin's story was published in Jasmine Kinnear's book Every Cat Has A Story that was published in 2007. If you would like to contribute a story of your own beloved feline friend please click here for more information
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