Mar 26

Bagheera the Christmas Kitten ©

Bagheera Cat RescuedIt was a brisk November morning and the grass of the abandoned home’s backyard glistened with dew. Nestled under a clump, lay a tiny black kitten. He shivered from the cold—weakened from the fleas swarming his little body. Not many more days for this world, a young woman stumbled upon him and swept him up into her arms. Frightened, he raised his head as tall as he could and gave a hiss. Undeterred, the woman wrapped him up in a soft towel, placed on her lap and drove away. Just to be sure the woman knew she shouldn’t mess with him, he gave one final hiss, then fell asleep.

But, sleep would not last. The roar of the car’s motor stopped, and the woman gathered him up in her arms once more and carried him into his new home, wherein he was promptly taken out of his warm towel and thrust into water. He evidently didn’t give the woman enough warning earlier, but didn’t have the energy to put up a fight. After removing the last of the fleas, he was handed over to another woman, Nana, who just wrapped the little bundle up in her arms. But, little Bagheera could not get warm, so Nana took him out of the towel and placed him against her warm chest. Maybe these humans were not so bad after all, he thought.

As the days and weeks passed, he gained strength, running and bouncing around chasing everything that moved and everything he could move. He was happy. But, one day his rescuer took him away from his happy home. It was his first visit to the vet. Upon returning home, he was once more thrust into the water. Only, this time, his rescuer drenched his little body in orange stinky water to kill invisible bugs, mangy mites. Shivering, she wrapped him in a towel, and gave him to Nana…who, unwrapped him and warmed him on her chest. That was the last bath Bagheera had to endure.

Bagheera the Christmas Kitten by Deanne DeGrandpreOne of his favorite games was jumping up to get whatever might be in the hole of the door jam. He just knew there must be something fun in there to play with. Although he could never knock anything out, he always tried. Bounce, bounce, bounce. Chasing and bouncing around, he stopped dead in his tracks when his rescuers brought in something new. It was tree! They hung all kinds of shiny toys all over it just for him. How much they must love him to give him so many things to play with! And at the very top was a big red shiny star. How he wanted to get a closer look, so he climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed until finally it was in paws reach. Whack! Down the star fell. And there sat little Bagheera at the very top. He thought he made a better tree topper than the ugly red star anyway.

One day, Bagheera was batting around a ball and spotted Kahuna, another rescued cat, up on the couch looking intently out the window. Kahuna was very patient and gentle with Bagheera. Joining Kahuna, Bagheera looked out to see what was so interesting…it was another cat! One he had never seen before. He looked back up at Kahuna to see what he would do, but, Kahuna just stared out the window.

Well, he wasn’t going to just sit there and let this new cat bother his Kahuna, so he started to move closer to the window, but, Kahuna reached out his paw blocking his way. So, Bagheera sat back leaving the king of the home to deal with the imposter.

Bagheera and Beau the Basset HoundDays and weeks turned into months. Every day for Bagheera was as good as the day before. Try to get that toy in the hole of the door jam, bat around everything he could find, and snuggle with Nana at night. Every night, Bagheera curled up on Nana’s warm chest, wrapping his long tail around his body like a blanket. And, Nana rubbed her face against his silky soft coat. If she could purr, she would have joined him.

As the springtime waned and summer began, Bagheera seemed to lose interest in getting the toy he knew was in the hole of the door jam. There was probably nothing there anyway. All he seemed to want to do is lie in the quiet dark of Nana’s bathroom. No toys, Kahuna, Nana, or treats could draw him away. He just slept for hours on the cool floor of the bathroom until nightfall. When Nana came to bed, he jumped up on the bed, plopped down against her, curled his long tail around his little body and purred happily.

Bagheera SnugglingLosing interest in play, depressed, and losing weight, Nana and his rescuer  took Bagheera to the vet once more. Bagheera didn’t care because he was too weak. This time it wasn’t caused by fleas or mites. Bagheera had feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). This time, there would be no bath or medicine that could rid little Bagheera of this disease. But, Nana and Elizabeth would take home medicines in hope of making him stronger and prolonging his life. That night, restless, Bagheera jumped up on Nana’s bed, plopped down against her chest and wrapped his long tail around his little body and went to sleep for the last time.

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Artist’s Statement

Bagheera’s story is based on a true story. The primary human character, Nana, is me. The rescuer in the story is my daughter, Elizabeth Lloyd. The tale weaves a happy story about a little kitten that was rescued by my daughter from near death when he was found in an abandoned backyard at about two weeks of age. Bagheera’s immune system was weakened from fleas and mites. Having always had cats, and our cats always originating from rescues, I felt certain we would have this wonderful little guy in our lives for a very long time, being that he did not have any of the common diseases found in stray cats. After 50 years of rescues, this was the first time I encountered feline infectious peritonitis. It is undetectable, unpreventable, and incurable. Bagheera was the most affectionate cat I ever had the pleasure of knowing. We lost him to this disease swiftly and painfully for him when he was just eight months old. While the story is completely accurate, I took creative license with the ending. He did try to cuddle with me on his last night, but he was restless because he was in pain. The end of his life was much worse than the end of this story. We could not bear to bring ourselves to put him out of his misery and could not afford the $200 the vet wanted to do it for us. So, we all cried and watched the painful, slow (but fast) death of our baby. Losing him was indeed blue. Telling the story to bring awareness of the disease was an emotional roller coaster of memories and sadness. I bawled all over again, and with each rewrite.

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