Brainstorming: Dash, other special animals should be cherished for the joy they bring | Opinion

This week Dash has been sick. She is coughing and sneezing, and her little eye is infected. I’ve been worried sick.

I am not used to having a sick cat. Sure I have had cats that sneezed now and then or coughed occasionally. I have also had cats with eye infections but I have never encountered all three symptoms at once, and in my precious little kitten – I can’t handle it.

Dash is about a five-month-old calico. Like all our cats, she just showed up one day. Early one morning, I got up because I couldn’t sleep and was watching television when I heard a cry coming from outside. It wasn’t Miss Kitty, Ashes, or even Suder. This meow was from an unfamiliar feline and a little one too. I went outside and looked around, but I could not find her. A few days later, I heard the sound again but still couldn’t find her. One day at lunch, I was eating outside on our deck, and I encountered the cry yet again. It was coming from J.D.’s Tiburon. I had to inspect further.

I slowly removed Tibby’s car cover, opened the door as quietly as possible, and popped the hood. When I raised it, I saw a tiny puffball of a kitten. I grabbed at her as quickly as possible, but she was scared and determined to get away. She scratched and hissed and wiggled out of my hand, jumped down under the car, took off at lightning speed toward the back yard, passed the ‘65 Ford, and into the thicket she went.

I knew that was the last I would see of that kitten. I felt bad. She was so tiny, and I could see her getting tangled in the tall grass and weeds or crushed by one of my neighbor’s cows. I searched around but I could not see or hear her anywhere.

About two weeks later, I once again heard the distinct meow outside our door. Once again, I tried to find her. Several attempts to coax her from the car were unfruitful. She slowing started letting us see her, though, but we still could not get near.

Finally, about six weeks after I heard the first cry, I had had enough. We were not going to be feeding a feral kitten that wouldn’t let us near it, especially a female that would eventually reproduce and have wild little, untouchable offspring. We had gone through that once with Ashes, but that is another story.

I was home at lunch again and got out the heavy artillery – TUNA. What cat could resist? Ashes couldn’t, and she proceeded to eat the canned treat intended for the kitten. But the kitten was interested too. She came closer and nibbled on the tuna. She still would not let me touch her, but I persisted. The next day I did the same. This time I sat on the concrete by the can and waited. She came up slowly and started eating. I tried to touch her, but she ran away. The tuna was too tempting, however, and she kept coming back. I was able to start making slow movements. She let me touch her head with my finger. After about an hour and a half, I grabbed her. We went inside, and I wrapped her in a towel so she would feel safe. She has been my kitten ever since.

She sleeps in my lap, she kneads me with her little paws, she licks me with the roughest cat tongue I have ever felt, and she plays catch with her stuffed unicorn. Yes, my kitten plays catch. Dash is unquestionably remarkable.

She has also been a distraction since Buddy, my Belgian Malinois, died. And she reminds me considerably of our kitten Bounce, the best cat ever, which we had for just about six months. Both Buddy and Bounce were killed unexpectantly, and it just crushed me. So, when Dash got sick. I was extra concerned. I could not lose my Dash too.

I called the vet, and they worked her in that day. She got some medicine, and I’ve been giving it to her. She has been lying around a lot, but she has started to show some interest in her toys again. She is still sneezing a little, and her poor eye continues to be red and watery, but I hope she is on the mend. I hate to see my baby sick.

Why do we form such deep attachments to our animals? They have such distinct personalities, and they become part of our families. We worry about them, they bring us comfort, and they make us laugh. We love them, and they give their unconditional love back, and it breaks our hearts when we lose them.

Have you ever had an animal that you have had a strong attachment to, one that, for whatever reason, seems a little more special than the rest? Dash is up there at the top of my list.

If you have a beloved animal, treasure it. It is part of your family. It will bring you lots of joy. It won’t be with you forever, but the time it is will be cherished like no other.

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