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How Do You Mend A Cat’s Broken Heart?

The person who shot Buddy with an air rifle has no idea of the chain reaction of hurt, disappointment and sorrow he’s caused. Of course, he doesn’t care either.

By Dylan M ParkinPublished 2 years ago 4 min read

Seven weeks ago a scumbag shot our Buddy cat with an air rifle. I’m about 99.9% sure who the culprit is, but there’s this little thing call proof.

I can’t prove it, but from what I do know, coupled with simple logic and logistics, there’s little chance anyone else besides this particular neighbor did it.

I’m still seething with anger, overflowing with sadness, and basking in naked hatred. Yeah, I said it. If I could take a ball peen hammer to this guy’s kneecaps I’d work him over like a scab who crossed a union picket line.

I’d do it in a heartbeat and sleep like a baby that night.

It’s been weeks of torment for the little guy. Two procedures, two different casts, pain meds, and struggles with using the litter box and navigating the steps to reach his favorite napping spots.

For us it’s meant a few thousand dollars and the meter is still running. It’s been sleepless nights with Buddy’s scratching at the litter box or whining to go outside.

That’s not the worst of it though.

It’s Buddy’s mournful face, and his sorrowful meows as he expresses his deep desire to once again be free. He thinks we’re holding him hostage.

Buddy — a feisty community cat — never wanted to come inside in the first place. But when his previous “owners” disowned him (they came home one day with a baby, doncha know) he was suddenly without shelter or a reliable food source.

No matter the weather — from blistering heat, to zero degrees and snow, to torrential thunderstorms — he was on his own. Before, they’d let him come in and out as he pleased. Now, it was like they didn’t even know who he was.

This is who he was: flea-bitten, skinny, confused, bitter, and suspicious of animals on two legs.

After several months we finally coaxed him inside. We renamed him Buddy.

We found out quickly that while he enjoyed a cozy bed, tasty cat food, treats and clean water, he was an independent soul who also craved the great outdoors.

When he finally accepted us as good humans, he’d round up rodents, moles and other small animals. These he’d proudly bring as gifts of thanks to the back door.

Over the months he spent more time inside. He found it comfortable to loll around unmolested, basking in the late afternoon sunlight of my office.

He could curl up inside a cardboard box sprinkled in catnip, or in a dresser drawer, or under a pile of blankets.

Best of all, our other two cats accepted him. It was a little shaky at first, but it didn’t take long to patch him into the fraternity.

There was only one hard and fast rule. Buddy had to go outdoors several times daily. His jaunts usually took anywhere from a half hour to half a day, but he always returned and was happy to spend the night.

Since our cats have always been indoor-only this was an adjustment for Michael and me. We knew the dangers the outdoors presented, plus we’d need to keep him on flea meds almost year-round.

Buddy’s insecurities caused by abandonment lessened, and after a while we all fell into an easy daily rhythm.

This came to an abrupt halt the day he was shot.

My ridiculous notion that we lived in a peaceful Kumbaya neighborhood evaporated the moment I saw our vet’s x-ray of his shattered leg and the pellet that forever changed his life.

These days we understand that Buddy is depressed. He sits at the back door most of the day gazing longingly into the yard. He’ll approach us with a doleful look, and pleading eyes. He whines, and asks us to follow him to the door.

“Can’t you open it for me, please?” his eyes beg. “I won’t stay out too long. I’ll catch something for you, I promise.”

“No, Buddy. I’m so sorry. You’ve got to stay in. There’s too much danger out there. I’m afraid you’ll wander down into the sewer and not be able to climb out.”

I’m afraid I’ll never see you again if you go out.

This goes on all day. It hurts my heart we can’t let him do the one thing he loves to do. He dreams of doing.

He dreams of chasing squirrels, patrolling the perimeter, feeling the breeze blow through his fur and prancing nimbly across the fence to check out the neighbors’ yards.

Doesn’t he remember the neighbor in the house behind us who stalked and glared at him, his weapon poised at his shoulder? Did he see him aim his gun as he strode along the fence line? Does he remember how it felt when the pellet cracked the calceneum in his back leg?

Buddy was quiet, crumpled and in shock when we found him. He’d somehow dragged himself across the yard, and with all the strength he could muster he made one jump and landed in the canvas chair next to the back door.

And yet . . . he still wants to go outside.

We’re looking into how it might be possible to build a catio. Logistically, the best way to do it would be far too expensive. We’ve not given up though. There are all kinds of kits and home made plans and we’re researching the whole industry of cat houses.

Meanwhile, how does one help mend a cat’s broken heart? I’d do almost anything to make him happier. I also sense he feels betrayed by us, and that hurts too.

I know Buddy is mending physically with each day. And we’re happy for that. He’ll always have a gimpy leg and a pronounced limp. But at least he’ll have four legs instead of three.

If anyone has any ideas, please pass them on. Buddy is a good soul, and he deserves so much better than this.


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    DMPWritten by Dylan M Parkin

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