by Leslie Anderson, Salem Oregon
My little Lucky cat. She was the runt of a litter of barn cats, and she has beat the odds twice in her lifetime. You can face adversity and come out on the other side if she can. Here’s the story she wanted me to share with you about that very subject.
Her mom, appropriately named Mama, was pretty promiscuous. Scandalous, I know. We got Mama when we moved out to our property for an outdoor mouser and pest control.
With pasture and a barn, you need a barn cat. She’s a loose woman, but she’s also a working woman, she does well keeping the mice population in check around here.
We didn’t know she was pregnant when we got her, and she gave birth about 6 weeks after we gave her a home. We found homes for the 3 kittens she birthed, and being the responsible pet owners that we are (…) we made an appointment to get her spayed 8 weeks after she gave birth, so that we didn’t keep populating West Salem with cats. Although, I think I personally would like that, I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do.
We kept Mama locked in our tack room for the full 6 weeks until the kittens were weaned so that she wouldn’t abandon them, and then she was free to roam the property and get back to work. I call that a medical release.
Mama got picked up for the surgery by our mobile vet on the scheduled day, and we got a call from the doctor just a short time after they arrived at the clinic to prep for the surgery.
‘Uh, did you know that Mama is pregnant?’ she asked. Obviously we didn’t, and we were surprised that she had already been out dating so soon after becoming a mother, but we cast no judgment on her life decisions. She is family after all, and we supported her, no matter what.
The vet asked if we still wanted her to have the surgery. I said, ‘No, bring her back. We will let her have the kittens and then get her spayed.’
Then there was the unexpected pregnancy.
So, poor Mama was pregnant with another litter of cats, so soon after the first pregnancy. By the time the day of labor came, she was miserable. She was also HUGELY pregnant. She’s fairly small, so the pregnancy showed so much.
The first time we didn’t even know she was pregnant until she gave birth, because she was pretty skittish and wouldn’t come near us. She kept to herself mostly, and her gentleman suitors were her companions apparently.
This time, she knew us better since we had helped her with her first litter, so she was hanging around us more, and she wanted our attention and affection.
She ended up giving birth to 8 – EIGHT – kittens. They were a lively and cute bunch and we had a ton of fun watching them in the weeks following. Mama was pretty wrecked physically. She had 12 kittens within only a few months and it took her a long time to fully recover.
Little Lucky Bear was the runt of that litter. She was malnourished, small, and the other kittens would push her out of the way to get milk. She was just too weak to fight for a spot. She spent most of her time curled on Mama’s chest. I could see she was a rough little thing from the beginning and I felt compassion for her.
So, I did what any good mom would do, I got her some formula and a bottle. This fact makes my whole family laugh to this day. They love me, but they do know I am a sucker for a kitten, and that I will go to any length to make a cat love me. I love to point out in the best sarcastic voice I can muster, ‘I SAVED HER LIFE!’ at least once a week to this day to remind them of my heroics. They love that.
I started feeding her the bottle a couple of times a day. When I got home from work, I wouldn’t even go inside and say hi to the kids, I’d run in, make a bottle, and then hustle down to the shop to feed her.
When I would enter the tack room in our barn – or kitten room, if you will, she would hear the door open, fall out of the box they were cuddling in with mama and come to me for her feeding. She was a little cuddle bear.
Around this time, my sister came over and suggested that we call her Lucky, since she was the runt, after all. That seemed to fit, so Lucky it was. That name would become fitting just a few weeks later.
Jason and I had some
arguments discussions about what to do with her, since we planned to rehome the rest of the litter. We didn’t need another house cat. I had two already. But I loved her so much, and I just couldn’t bear to part with her. So he finally gave in agreed to Lucky joining our house cat family. It was a picture of marital bliss, this issue….
She was starting to look a little more healthy by this time and we made sure she was fully weaned before we brought her inside. I loved her so much and she still loved to snuggle with me. I spent hours and hours with her, and she was soon my favorite cat. My deep devotion to Lucky, and my little bit of cat craziness grew even more. No regrets.
Just a short time after these pictures were taken, I was upstairs in our house one day, and it was just a typical day. I hadn’t let her come upstairs by herself yet, and she couldn’t really climb the stairs because she was too short, so I’d carry her up and close her in our bedroom if I was going to be up there for any length of time so I could keep an eye on her.
On this particular day, I brought her upstairs, and I set her on my bedroom floor without closing the door. I ran in to my closet to grab a pair of pants really quick. It was a 30 second errand and I figured she would be ok.
Then it happened. Poor Lucky had the worst of luck, again.
Before I was even out of my closet, I heard Mason yelling and a really sad sound from a cat. I ran out and I saw that Lucky had fallen from our second floor, about 10-12 feet to the hardwood floor below.
I was horrified and Lucky was crying. It was a sound I’d never heard before from a cat. It was crying. I knew it was bad. I started crying myself and ran downstairs and scooped her up. Mason was telling me that he had seen her fall, and he could see how upset I was, and he was upset too. It was terrifying for all of us. I instantly thought she was dying. She was too tiny to make it through such a traumatic fall, and there was no way this would end well.
I took her in to the living room and put her on my chest. She was knocked out cold, and I thought at that point that we were just going to comfort her until she died. We talked about taking her to the vet, but we didn’t think there was any point. So I laid there with her, and I was heartbroken and angry at myself for making such a dumb mistake and not watching her more closely.
Jason and Mason consoled me and we just continued to watch her sleep. I figured she had internal bleeding at the very least, probably a head injury, and there had to be broken bones. We decided if things got worse we would take her in, but if she died peacefully, we would just let her go and then bury her on our property.
The minutes ticked by and it was so tough to just watch her sleep and not have any idea when she would breathe her last. We kept waiting and talking about all the what if scenarios.
A couple of hours later, she moved slightly. I had been petting her and gently talking to her, and I watched as she started to move a little more. I couldn’t believe it. I was watching her to see how she acted, and what type of injuries she had. Instead, she did something that surprised all of us.
She sat up, shook her head, her eyes opened, and she was awake. She legitimately woke up, like it had been a bad nightmare. Her eyes were bright and clear. She seemed to be acting normally too. I gave her food and water, and watched in amazement as she started slowly walking around and then soon after, she started playing again. I figured that we still weren’t out of the woods, so I was watching for any strange behavior.
There wasn’t any strange behavior or after effects, and I’m not kidding, it was like the fall never happened from that moment on. She recovered fully and has gone on to be a happy cat.
She has grown up to be such a sweet companion to me, and she has no health issues. She is still my favorite and she holds even more of a special place in my heart because I love the story of how she fully became Lucky, and proved her name, even as a tiny little underrated kitten.
Since then, she has comforted me on any dark days I have had, and she plays fetch with me on the good days. She is better at fetch then our lazy English Bulldog Stanley – sorry Stanley, but that’s true.
I’m also happy to report that Mama was successfully spayed at the next planned appointment, with no surprise pregnancies, and now she is concentrating on being a full time mouser.
So what does this mean to you? If Lucky can beat the odds, you can too…..
If little Lucky Bear can beat the odds, so can I, and so can you. It doesn’t matter if you had a rough start, or a bad break, or even if you’ve made the worst choices. There is always hope. Sometimes the unexpected happens and it rocks you to the core, and you think you’ll never overcome it.
You think you’ll never be the same, and that you are broken forever. You aren’t. Even with the scars and old injuries we have, you aren’t broken, and neither am I. They make for a rich life story, in which you and I both can learn from our mistakes and bad breaks, and pick ourselves up when life itself goes in a direction that you simply didn’t see coming, and that feels devastating at the time, but it’s possible to move forward.
I fully believe this, and I believe it for you too. I’m proof of this very fact. I’ve lived through some of life’s hardest trials. Some brought on by me, and some that were unfairly dealt. I don’t hold resentment for any of it, nor is it an excuse. I choose to wake up, shake my head, and continue moving forward. You can too. Don’t give up. Lucky isn’t the only lucky one. We all are.