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Saying good-bye to a sweet, little friend.

January 12, 2012

He came to our family in an ususual way.  We had another feline friend for a few months, and that relationship didn’t fluorish.  She needed to be wild and free (and not biting all the guests that came to our house).  It was a difficult decision, but our vet convinced us that Daisy Duke wasn’t the kitty for our family.  Months went by and we didn’t desire to replace her.  That lack of interest was probably due to the fact that our original kitties had to get a new home following the bus crash.  It was all too much for all of us, and after much discussion, we had to find Shadow and Rescue new homes.  It was the best decision for them, even if it meant we felt like we were losing more family members. 

Months have gone by and not one mention on a new kitty.  That was until a chance encounter with our veterinarian.  She was wondering if we would ever be interested in a little special needs kitty.  The question caught me off-guard, because like I said, we weren’t looking.  My curiousity piqued, I inquired as to what type of special need.  We have experience fostering kitties (especially those abandoned by their mothers), and we have raised a few with bottles.  That wasn’t the new kitty’s issue.  He had experienced some kind of trauma (probably hit by a car), was dropped off at a farm, was promptly dumped at the veterinarian who tried to save his leg.  Ultimately, the leg couldn’t be saved, and here he was a little 3-legged ball of sweetness – who nobody wanted. 

Of course, my sense of cheering for the underdog (okay, undercat in this case) took over.  I agreed to take a look – on one condition.  This kitty would have to get along with Huck – numero uno, top dog and pet at Team Stevens Headquarters.  I shared his story with the kids, and  just like little apples fallen off the tree, their sense of truth and justice (and the American way) kicked in,  and they were ready to save this unseen kitty. 

We decided that I would pick up the kitty the next day for a trial overnight.  We all waited with fingers crossed hoping the moment Huck laid eyes on him would be like cherubim with harps came to serenade us all.  It was almost that perfect.  We all watched as I placed a tiny little 2.4 lbs kitty in front of a 97 lb golden retriever.  Instead of hissing with an arched back, that little ball of fluff nuzzled that big, old, wet nose and a friendship was born, not to mention the melting of all the human hearts in the room. 

That night we decided to name kitty, Ocho, because we figured he had already lost one life in the trauma that took his leg.  We promptly called the vet to say that we would emphatically NOT be bringing him back as he had already wrapped his little tail around our hearts.  Over the course of the next months, we discovered that he loved to cuddle, he was tolerant with kids, and he loved to wrestle with Huck which made the old boy seem so much younger than his 9 years.

 He was carted between our house and the neighbor’s for many playdates.  Ocho was loved by friends, family, and neighbors. He was dressed up in baby doll clothes and placed in baby doll cradles.  He was a willing participant in many different games and activities.  Sure he was a normal cat, and he loved to torment our preteen daughter’s toes in the middle of the night.  He loved a good snooze on any of the beds with a good sunshine fix in the afternoon.  Learning from the master, Huckleberry, he adapted those naps on occasion to the clean, fresh laundry piles I was folding. And of course, he intently watched the pigeons that we raise, but he never bothered them.  Nighttime prowls in our backyard were a staple, but he always returned home with a purr and a cuddle.

But then shortly after New Year’s we discovered our little Ocho (at 1 1/2 years old) was very sick.  We still don’t know yet what happened, but he developed some type of fluid in his chest cavity.  We watched, tried everything we could afford to do, and fretted for several days.  Deep down, we knew he wasn’t doing well. When Huck went and retrieved his beloved bone and laid it in front of his ailing friend, we simply knew it was time.  We had one last sleepover with Ocho, and I watched him throughout the night.  He was in so much pain that he never really rested.  We doted, we loved, and we doctored. 

Then we had to say good-bye.  He laid in my arms as I sobbed and told him that he was the best cat any family could have ever asked for.  He gave me one last nuzzle and breathed his last breath.  The guilt of letting him down was enormous.  Then the love of many friends reminded us that Ocho was a kitty that no one had wanted in the beginning, and that we had raised him lovingly, never letting him know that he was different from other cats. 

In the end, he taught us a lot about ourselves.  We will always, always, ALWAYS, root for the undercat!  We will also remember that BIG LOVE can come in little packages.   We learned that friends love us when we’re down and are there for us no matter what, knowing full well FRIENDS like that are hard to find! 

Now that we’ve said our goodbyes, we just hope we will be able to find him in heaven because we are certain he now has 4 legs!

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