Some cats are just fighters
My story is about the first cat I ever had to bury. In the picture, she's the black and white cat to the right of the tabby.
Her name was Mittens Furball Mowy Lastname Lastname, but Mitties for short...or sometimes we affectionately called her Stubby, but we'll get to that. We got Mitties as a kitten some 18 years ago. Being ignorant to the process of declawing, my mother had her declawed as a kitten (this will come up again, I promise). Mitties probably had 15 lives instead of just 9, but above all else, she was a survivor.
Having a fenced in yard and a mother who was raised on a farm, we raised Mitties as an indoor-outdoor cat. She learned to love rolling on concrete and chasing after chipmunks, though she was never good at actually catching them. One day, my mom let her outside and then went about doing laundry. When she went to hang up the laundry outside, Mitties was nowhere to be seen. Mind you, she had never left the back yard in the 2 years she had been living, so this was odd. We searched up and down the streets, but couldn't find her. Resigning ourselves to putting up Lost Cat posters and give up the search for the night, we went to bed. The searching continued each day for two or three days, when right before leaving for school, a certain black and white cat came limping up the driveway. My mom dropped me off at school, called in late to work, and raced Mitties over to the vet. She had been hit by a car, presumably, and shattered her tailbone and broke her pelvis. Poor little two year old cat had to have her tail surgically removed and wear a cast that was similar in shape and size to a baby's diaper. I was young at the time, but I remember the screaming that we would hear whenever she needed to...go. But she healed and we called her Stubby as she had a little bear tail stub instead of a tail. After a month or so, she didn't even need it to balance. It was like the tail she was born with was more of an accessory than a necessity.
Fast forward a year later. My mom makes quilts, it's what she loves to do. If you know anything about sewing, you know that your cats love to help. My mom had her glasses off and was trying to rethread a needle by hand into the machine and Mitties was observing. When my mom went to cut the thread, Mitties had jumped at the thread like it was a mouse's tail and received a minor, but still painful, cut to the eyeball. It ended up not being a big problem in the long run, but even when she was 15 or 16, I could see that scar on her left eyeball. But, who needs perfect vision? Apparently not little Stubs because she got around just fine.
Not too long afterwards, maybe two or three months, Mitties was let out and didn't come back in that night. I think we were worried, but I was still really young, so I can't remember. All that I do remember was being woken up to the sound of my mom screaming. She came rushing in with the little white spots on Mitties' fur being dyed a dark shade of red. Mitties had apparently decided that the car engine was a perfect place to take a nap in the middle of the night. She must have been lodged up against the alternator belt because she was cut up bad! A quick trip to the vet, some stitches and a lecture on opening the hood of your car before starting it if you can't find your pet, and Mitties was sore, but healing and happy. I can't say she enjoyed the cone around her neck though.
A few years later and all the more wiser about watching her when she went outside, my brother and I (around the age of 10 at this point), took her to the front yard while we planted a tree for arbor day. Low and behold a big black chow dog was running loose in the neighborhood. That dog just so happened to find a good toy to play with: Mitties. She climbed up the neighbor's tree faster than anything I've ever seen, just a blur of fur. Remember when I said earlier that my mom had her declawed? Yeah, our declawed and traumatized little cat managed to get about 15 feet up in a tree and was now trapped with no exit strategy. Our town also doesn't have those nice firemen who will get your cat down for free (they specialize more in fires nowadays). Luckily our neighbor worked at a roofing company and was comfortable on any size ladder, so he got her down, freshly freaked out.
Along with severe allergies that would put her back in a cone to keep her from biting sores into her back, Mitties was just an accident prone cat. I'm not going to say us humans were very smart about protecting her (mind you, this all happened by the time I was 10, and I was a very naive girl). But our stubby, scarred, traumatized cat never stopped loving us. In her old age, she stopped playing as much and liked the corner in the closet over climbing a cat tree. But she was a reliable alarm clock (always needing to be fed promptly at 6AM) and a great heating pad for our laps. In the end, she had a shadow on her lungs and was deep in kidney failure when she passed at the ripe age of 17.
The point of this story is that it's amazing how much this poor cat went through in her life, but she never held any resentments. From my mom stabbing her in the eye, to being hit by a car, to being chased by a dog, she never once became skiddish without being provoked. She was a confident cat who only asked to be petted and to have her food right on time. Yes, we did things wrong, but we learn from them. We're going to make mistakes with our cats, because we're only human. And even though Mitties has been gone for two and a half years, I know that I'll never forget the things she's taught me and how special she was.