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We Are Flying Solo

June 20, 2011

Not Exactly Horse Related

He limped up to my front porch as I arrived home a few hot Carolina evenings ago.  He had two puncture wounds on either side of his spine from which blood oozed and a big patch of hair had been ripped out.  His entire head was covered in scabbed over wounds and a sizeable piece of one ear was missing.  He looked like he hadn't seen a meal in weeks as he flopped onto the concrete.

Oh crap, I thought. I don't want another cat.

They find me, you see. Cats in need, I mean. It's like some kind of scent trail that leads to my exact location. And I am REALLY tired of cleaning up other people's messes.

Last fall, it was the black and white kitten that someone had literally thrown out of their car window at our office gate. We are the only building on a dead-end interstate service road next to a reservoir and the gate apparently says, "Hey scumbags, please dump your unwanted felines here." His claws and pads lost in asphalt burns, this cuddly young thing had hobbled up to our parking area and was hiding inside a truck engine. He was asleep in my lap in five minutes.

He eventually went to live a pampered life with my technician's mother. Then there was the trio of friendly orange kittens (also pitched by our gate) that I took to my vet's rescue clinic. The same clinic kindly accepted the darling calico I found in a tree outside Pizza Hut (we called her Pepperoni). Another black and white snuggler, dirty and wormy and maybe five weeks old, leaped on my hands from a bush when I stopped to move a box turtle out of the road; he now lives with a co-worker. I am still convinced that one left the turtle out as bait for a soft-hearted sucker like me.

So by the time this torn-up orange tomcat presented himself at my door, yeah, I was sick of having to do the responsible thing because someone else couldn't be bothered.  My bank account certainly had no wiggle room!

I thought (hoped) he might run off and save me the trouble. He looked up at me and started to purr.


"Ok, mister," I told him with a sigh. "I can't very well leave you here in 95 degree heat with deep, bleeding punctures and a busted up leg. Here's the deal: if you let me pick you up and take you inside, I will try to help you."

Please run away, please run away, I thought. I have no money and two cats of my own already that I have to protect from god-knows-what diseases you have.

He hung limp in my arms as I scooped him up and unlocked the door. He was a big cat, twice the size of mine, but he weighed next to nothing. As I cautiously opened the door, he caught sight of my cats and I braced myself for the inevitable filleting of my arms which I knew was about to occur.

Nothing. He just hung there and sighed a little.

I put him in my guest bathroom with some water, kibble, and litter. I know he must be starved and dehydrated. He half-heartedly lapped a few sips of water and then climbed into the bathtub and, in two minutes, fell asleep in front of me.

He was so exhausted, he spent the next two days hardly budging from the tub except for the occasional snack and drink. When I came in, he limped over and leaned against me to be petted, his rumbling purr vibrating his whiskers. He was filthy and left brown pawprints all over the tub but I couldn't hold it against him as I raged against the human species who left him to this fate.

He looked like a dog had picked him up and shaken him and it was obvious he had been fighting for his life. He had a mess of worms and nasty ears. But his eyes were clear and he wanted nothing more than to crawl into my lap.

After a day at the vet getting neutered and shot and cleaned and tested, it was clear kitty had magical powers: he could rack up amazing bills without moving a muscle.  When they informed me that he was free of heartworms/feline leukemia/FIV, I was shocked that he'd managed to stay clean.

He's been in my house for two weeks now. Completely submissive, when one of my cats whacked him on the nose, he flopped over on his side and stared at her, simply waiting to be accepted. Last night, he crawled across the bed and laid down at my side. He pressed his back into my ribcage and stretched out, nestling his head into the space between my shoulder and neck. His purrs came faster than he could breathe and I wondered at his ability to love and trust the same animal that dumped him, as he had obviously been a housecat before.

No, this has nothing to do with Solo and little to do with horses, but this cat's story compelled me to share it. So many animals have an amazing capacity to forgive, to give us second and third and fourth chances that we clearly don't deserve. They heal and move on seemingly without a backward thought.

Some stories have a happy ending. This particular orange cat is completely available (you know you want him!) but if no one takes him, he is safe with me. Many more stories don't end so well. The thoughtlessness of the masses is quite content to leave animals of all sorts to the four winds of the fates, no matter how they suffer. After all, who cares what happens, it doesn't affect us, right? I guess not, if you have no soul or compassion at all.

So take a minute, give your lucky animals a hug. And I hope you can find it in you to take your time and money, however scarce or invisible, and offer a bit of help to all those critters out there who need it so badly. Even if it's just clicking our friends at The Animal Rescue Site, the animals need us to step up. Volunteer at your local dog/cat/horse rescue, donate money (even $5 helps), donate stuff you don't use anymore, etc. Because if we don't help them, no one else will.


  1. You have such a beautiful heart. Thank you for sharing.

  2. That's a lovely story. I wish I could have kitty (super allergic) because he is precious. Congrats on your new, sweet friend :)

  3. Both of my kittens acquired as a result of human carelessness. The Black and White Princess (aka Milly) was a neighbor's cat up until she got to be about five months old. Apparently she wasn't cute enough for them any more, and was turned out into the neighborhood. About two years ago she sauntered her big white boots into my back yard and, well, the worst abuse she has to suffer now is me enthusiastically hugging her.

    Tazzy was an orange kitten that my sister rescued from the local community college, where a disturbingly large ferrel cat colony exists. He was taken to the vet the day he was found and now is the world's most freakishly affectionate house cat. I think anyone who has a conscience and even the smallest soft spot for animals is sick of seeing and cleaning up other people's messes. Perhaps a pet ownership license program similar to the drivers license program should be implemented, complete with animal care courses.

  4. That kitty picked the right house to limp up to, wow. What a lucky guy. :) He sounds like a sweetheart, too.

  5. Aw, Y_E, yay for the rescues! My other two are the same way -- one was orphaned under a house at 3 weeks old and has feline herpes virus. He is 8 now, gross, sweet as pie, and will probably live forever. The other I adopted from a local rescue group because she is the SPITTING image of my heart cat, who I lost to a brain blood clot at age 7 a couple years ago. I couldn't say no when she looked at me with that face the day after I lost him and she makes me smile every day. She is also a giant Princess.

    I know, Kate, did he pick the house carefully or what? I swear, they can smell my sucker-ness.

  6. That's pretty much how we got a cat--he got dumped off at my in law's ranch, to be eaten by coyotes, I guess. I have no idea what people think. He's the sweetest, snugglist, best cat ever. He even has cat friends, which I think is weird.

    I have a suspicion that he doesn't completely trust people anymore, though. He's got the neighbor behind the fence scoped out as his new home if anything happens to us.

  7. I would so take this cat if I could. I absolutely love orange kitties. My sister lives out in the country and every spring there are new cats roaming around. I think people see horse barn and think sucker. Right now we have a 4 or 5 week old kitten that my sister rescued from the eaves of her barn. We haven't been able to catch the momma cat yet. It's so dang hard to say no to these guys.

  8. What a sweet story! Karma is a good thing - your kindness will be visited back, no doubt. Thank you so much for taking him in.

    It must be that time of year. Last week on my drive home from work I saw a tiny grey kitten scamper out from under the car in front of me to the side of the road on a THREE LANE HIGHWAY IN RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC. We were on a bridge too, so there was nowhere for baby to go. Of course I swerved over and hopped out of my car to try to catch her... to make a long, scary story short, she made another (successful) dash across the highway where she was scooped up by another passing motorist. We both got back in our cars and met further down the road - neither of us could keep the baby but at least she was rescued and has a chance at a home now. I think she burned through 8 of her 9 lives on that highway, though!

  9. What a beautiful post. I fell in love with this kitty just from your description. It almost makes it harder to tolerate our fellow humans when an abused or neglected animal turns out to (still) be such a sweetie. Good for you!

  10. Thank you for choosing to help him and taking him in.

    Poor boy. I don't understand how people can just abandon an animal like that. And it's so amazing that these animals then continue to love humans. Their powers of forgiveness exceed ours a millionfold.

  11. Oh my gosh, jenj, that is a crazy story! That has got to be the luckiest kitten ever! I saw one here do that across 8 lanes, and he made it but then didn't stop and took a flying leap off the bridge. I don't know what happened to him, I couldn't stop, I can only hope that he was a good lander.

    Amanda, his orangeness wants you...

  12. People make me sick. We get a lot of animals dumped here, and they all continue to love and trust. It's terrible. This guy is lucky he found you. Your wallet? Not so much.

  13. Lucky lucky orange kitteh!

    My most recent adoptee was rescued from a broken down old barn full of ferals where in another month or two she was fixing to have relations with her dad(s) + uncles + brothers. Many generations of inbred. Blech.

    We have since caught and spayed all the females and neutered the males we could trap - they're a crafty lot.

    Did you name him yet?!

  14. Dom, my wallet can only whimper in defeat.

    CFS, good job on the spaying! No, kitty does not yet have a name. I desperately hope someone will adopt him and name him Anything They Want.

  15. All my criiters are rescues (2 dogs and 2 cats and 2 horses). Yankee was an unwanted racehorse, my mini was the product of two mini's I found in a field neglected (brought them home OF COURSE much to the dismay of my parents, espechially after the mare popped out my current pony, lol), Zoey was a rescue from a pet rescue, Tonka I found on a highway torn to shreds, one of my cats wandered up in the SAME shape your orange kitty did and my kitten I found in a a box with his litter on the side of a highway (they didnt even have their eyes open!). Its INSANE what people do to their animals. 4 is a lot in a small apartment, bu they are spoiled rotten and know it. I only wish I could help more. Lovely story!

  16. Haha, check and I bet every one gets spoiled rotten!

  17. Well done! I needed to hear that story. I'm a sucker for turtles on roads, but I feel guilty that I didn't stop to help a cyclist when a dog was following him, and leaving it up to the cyclist to deal with. I have work to do, being more good, and open with my time.

    Thank you for that well written lesson.

  18. It's ok, Lexie, cyclists are on their own. But if the dog was hurt, then that's a different story!

  19. Thank you! I currently have 3 rescue dogs, 2 rescue horses, one rescued pig,6 rescue/adopted cats, and one rescued birdie. And I have rehomed several more. It gets sooo disheartening to clean up scumbag human messes, and can begin to feel like you are the only one helping out these fuzzies! I was turning around to move another turtle off the road the other day, there was only one car behind me. They swerved to purposefully hit him.
    I needed this story and these comments about all of you guys doing the same thing. THANK YOU!!!!

  20. Oh, and after the last rescue (Terraboo the emaciated hound dog) my vet walked in, looked at this poor lump of crippled dog, looked at me and said "Another project for you huh? Well, let's get started and we can put you on your normal payment plan for this". yeah, I have put that many through my wonderful vets office. It averages out to finish the payments on one critter about the time another comes in. I have paid off, and I am now super worried when the next one is going to show up!!!

  21. Haha, Alana, you are the rescue queen! I crown you! Want an orange cat?

  22. I loved this post!

  23. Well, gee. I am emphatically *NOT* a cat person, and this post had me in tears. Poor, poor exhausted little boy. He must have been so incredibly relieved to be indoors and safe... I have two rescued guinea pigs (was told by the humane society that someone found them in a parking lot by a dumpster, huddled together - needless to say, their minutes were numbered) who are now spoiled rotten princes. "Oh, look, there's Mommy! Let's yell our heads off and see what she brings us!" They only do this when I walk by, not the other three family members. They've got my number, all right.

    I move turtles. I volunteer at a rescue. I return wandering dogs in our n'hood to their ungrateful owners (do NOT understand this, if my doggie was missing a nuclear Amber-Alert level response would take place). I exhort everyone I know and don't know not to patronize pet stores selling puppies. But I know it's not enough... kudos to you for laying out cash and time and love on the front line. I'm sure Orange Cat will find a home soon!

  24. ROFL, so glad to hear I'm not the only one they find. I've taken in a litter of 3 semi-feral kitts full of worms and upper respitory issues. One poor little soul had an eye infection so bad that Friday he had surgery to remove one of them. Seems to be handling it well. I hope to find homes for the other two, but after spending a small fortune on the runt and his eye, I guess I now have another cat. Some good karma must come to us, right??

  25. Thanks, pork!

    RW, I think we need a video of piggies crying for their master/slave!

    blue, it's always the problem ones we get stuck with!!!

  26. I love your story and heart for the kitty. I hope you find a good home for him. I too, wish people would stop getting pets and kids they can't care for.
    But unfortunately there are plenty of uncompassionate and irresponsible people out there.
    I have two cats and a dog and wouldn't hesitate to help an animal I came. Yes, it has cost me too, but I gotta do it.
    Thanks for sharing the story.