I’ve already mentioned Nike, Smooth Chocolate, and Kisses. Nike and Smooth Chocolate were brothers. They were brought home by our then teenage daughters. It had been quite a while since we had cats. I wasn’t thrilled.
It was 1997. It was the kick-off of our year from hell. It was December 10. Nike and Smooth Chocolate were loved and cared for and were adolescent kittens. My husband and I were shopping for his emergency trip to Pakistan. His father was sick. I was trying to be helpful as he bought gifts and necessities. I was bracing for a Christmas without three of my children.
As the cart grew with our purchases, my pager kept going off. 911 was the signal for a family emergency. Using a pay phone (remember those?) I kept calling and got no answer. My husband kept ignoring my pleas to go home. I knew something was wrong.
As we approached our house, we were stopped by the Fire Chief. We told him we lived there and he let us through. Five fire departments were battling blazes and smoke. Included was our condo. No sign of the teenagers who sent the frantic 911. No sign of my mother. Eventually they were found. But where were Smooth Chocolate and Nike?
So many things I could say about the fire, the year from hell, the panic, the fear, the confusion, and seven months of displacement. But this is a Cat-Tale. This is the story of Nike and Smooth Chocolate. Among all the differences between dogs and cats is that dogs run and cats hide. Nike was found first. We feared the worse for Smooth Chocolate. Persistence paid off – he was found in the basement hiding.
Both cats were sent to the Catzablanca courtesy of our insurance. We had an insurance adjuster which seemed to help. I doubt the insurance would have paid so much for the cats if we hadn’t. Smooth Chocolate needed breathing treatments. They both recovered. Well, sort of…
Like their owners, they were displaced for seven months. For us it was two corporate apartments. For them, it was a cage at Catzablanca. Like their owners, they were never the same. The impact of the fire and the displacement took its toll on them both.
Their trauma was magnified when their primary owner left for college. She told me when she left that if anything happened to her cats, she’d hold me responsible and never forgive me. That’s hard to hear. I did my best. Both cats stayed to themselves. Both were always scared and yet aggressive.
Soon it came time to move to Tennessee. Nike was caught and placed in the truck. 18 hours in the back of a truck, in the dark, was probably not the best for an already traumatized cat. Smooth Chocolate was not catchable so stayed behind. A few days later, when I arrived in Tennessee I was told that Nike was refusing to eat. I remembered the threat of my daughter.
Children will frequently drive you to desperate prayer. Finding Nike one day in the corner of the shower I thought this is my chance. He wouldn’t let me touch him but I could come fairly close. It was time for prayer. I managed to sprinkle some anointing oil. I prayed in Jesus name that Nike would adjust and eat. I prayed that God would comfort his spirit. I was pretty desperate. I didn’t see him eat but there was proof in the litter box that he had finally ate. God hears the prayer of mothers.
Smooth Chocolate joined Nike later that fall. On a trip back to Connecticut my husband insisted we take the cat in the van with us. I knew this was a bad idea. I knew it would stink. I knew… but, I lost the battle. In the van with my mother and three children, packed to the top with more of our things, Smooth Chocolate was in a cat carrier by the back door. The meowing wasn’t too bad. But the smell, OH the smell! After four hours I heard the words every wife loves to hear. “I guess you were right.” We stopped at CVS and bought stick on air fresheners. It helped for about five minutes.
With a hiss these two brothers were reunited. Smooth Chocolate made the litter box his home and would sit for days in the litter box. I know now that the litter box is like a security blanket for a cat. Maybe for him it was like sitting in sack clothe and ashes as he mourned his traumatic life.
When Kisses, a cute adorable kitten became our third cat, a second litter box was necessary. Kisses was the result of my baby girl’s brown begging eyes. I thought maybe he’d be a nice cat. He was for a while. He was “corrupted” by the other two.
It’s been said that I could make a blog out of a paper clip. I’m not sure I could do that; I might try sometime. But I usually can make a sermon out most of my real-life stories. This is no exception. Here are two sermon ideas. Traumatized people and hurt people are never normal and need lots of love. And eventually the company you keep will change you.
I have one more cat-tale to tell. I’ve saved the best for last.