Third Place: “Kiwi,” by Francie Snell

By Guest Contributor December 15, 2016 13:29

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By Francie Snell

He was a frightening sight when he first crept past our sliding glass door. It was October, and he was the epitome of the perfect Halloween cat: scrawny, with dirty gray matted hair.

I hoped he wouldn’t stay long, that he was just passing through. However, after a few days of sorrowful, watery green eyes peering through our window, it occurred to me he was planning to stick around.

Surprised to see him, the neighbor explained he was a stray he had brought home from work the year before named Kiwi. “He’s a fighter, guards the cat food so the other cats can’t eat … you can have him if you want.”

I crouched to study the cat one day through the window.

“He looks sick,” I sadly commented to my husband as Kiwi and I stared eye to eye.

“Why don’t we just keep him,” he suggested.

“But aren’t you allergic to cats?”

“Yeah, but if we vacuum every day, he shouldn’t be a problem.”

Problem solved. Immediately I jumped in the car and drove straight to the local grocery store and for the first time in as long as I could remember, I bought cat food.

It was that evening when the first bite of delectable pâté placed just so in a new plastic food dish signified the first step in a lasting friendship between a middle-aged couple and a Maine coon cat.

The day he first entered our house, Kiwi seemed terrified. Warily, he slipped through the doorway, darted around our feet, and then made a beeline down the hall. I found his little ears aglow in the beam of the flashlight as he hid under the sewing machine. He remained there for the night.

The next morning, when I opened the sliding glass door, he came tearing out of the bedroom and down the hall and out the door like an escapee from prison. I wondered if we’d ever see him again. However, this became his daily routine.

About a week after his arrival, the three of us took our first family road trip, driving across town to an appointment with the veterinarian. Kiwi voiced his concerns the entire way.

Although we loved the little guy just the way God made him, we felt an alteration was in order. Our little tomcat would soon embark on a completely new lifestyle. And it was at that appointment we learned some extraordinary facts about our new furry friend.

kiwi-belly-editedThe veterinarian seemed surprised when examining Kiwi.

“Where did you get him?” he asked, peering into Kiwi’s mouth. “His front fangs are missing.”

“No teeth?” I said with surprise. “He came to us…just showed up at our back door…how old do you think he is?”

“Oh, at least 10.”

“Really?” I said, incredulous. “I thought he was a kitten.”

“Oh no,” he insisted. “He’s definitely a middle age cat.”

I was elated; the little fur ball and I already had something in common.

The vet probed further in his investigation, and after taking an X-ray, made a staggering discovery.

“He’s been shot!” he exclaimed, pointing to the film showing six pellets scattered throughout Kiwi’s cranium.

“It’s a miracle he’s alive.”

As I studied the film in amazement, Kiwi became my little hero. He had survived against incredible odds, an innocent target struggling for dear life.

Though it was too risky to remove the pellets, that vet bill was the first of many we’d pay in the coming years. But it was worth every penny for the gift that had maneuvered his way to our back door and into our hearts.

Kiwi continued to dart out of the house for a few weeks until one day he had a change of heart.

I was shocked one morning to see him stretched out, leisurely cleaning himself in the middle of the hallway. Seemingly without a care, he strolled out into the living room and sat down. He gazed at me with head held high, as if proud of his accomplishment. I cooed with delight.

“You made it little guy, good for you!

A few weeks later, he was in my lap. I rocked him like a baby in my arms. No longer would he have to fend for himself to survive. And we would have the pleasure of caring for something that appreciated our love.

Eight years later he was now our dear old friend. After administering his last nebulizer treatment, I wept as I sat outside on the porch.

Kiwi gazed up at me with uncanny humanness. He walked to me, slowly as if so very tired, wrapped his tail around my leg, and sat on my foot, as if consoling me like a loving grandfather, My dear … I love youIt will be okay.


By Guest Contributor December 15, 2016 13:29
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