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When Lightning Struck My Heart

How a Single Little Gray-And-White Kitten Grew to Be the Loving Champion of My Furry Family

By Chuck HinsonPublished 6 years ago 5 min read

On April 8, 2015, my kitchen floor was full of muddy footprints. At around five-thirty that afternoon, I'd come in from one of the saddest moments of my adult life: burying my best friend—a Maine Coon feline wonder named Lightning—out in a little flower garden next to the house.

Actually, Lightning came into my life back in 2003 as a rescue kitten from the Boyd County, KY Animal Shelter—and it certainly wasn’t an easy entrance! As a matter of fact, as I was bringing him into the house that first afternoon, he jumped out of my arms, into the street, and was run over—twice! But wouldn't you know it? Thanks to the little rascal's determination and a very compassionate vet, he survived!

Lightning grew quickly and, as time went on, he began to care for any new pet I’d bring into the house, grooming and tending to them until they were strong enough to do so on their own. I honestly think, because he remembered getting a second chance years before, he wanted to be sure others had that opportunity to live too. In 2008, I became the proud owner of twin Siamese kittens. But soon I found out Radar and Ricky weren't fully weaned yet; they'd been taken from their mother a bit early. So, after sniffing around them, Lightning would lie down and let the kittens suckle on him until they were strong and secure enough to blend with the other cats. He was just that kind of loving, sweet, and patient soul.

Another example of this was two years later, when my little Abyssinian, Sammy, got behind the fridge and wouldn't come out. Being new to the family, he was frightened by a sudden movement by my dog. Though I tried getting him out myself (I still have the scars to prove it), he wouldn’t budge—just hiss and growl. Then I had an idea: I moved out the fridge just a little, minding not to hurt or startle the Aby. Then I called for "Uncle Lighty." He came over, went behind the refrigerator to where Sammy was, touched noses with him as if to say, "Son, you're going to be all right. Calm down now!" Afterwards, he went over to one of my other cats and touched noses with him as if to confer, doctor-to-doctor. Returning to Sammy, he gently touched noses with him again, and calmly led him back into the group!

Shakespeare once wrote, in describing a friend, "He had a face like a benediction." Well, that described my little buddy to a tee. When I'd get sick, he'd be right there, by my side... kneading my chest for all it's worth, while looking straight in my eyes. It was like he was saying, "Okay, dad ... feel better now? Ummm … well, how about now??" If I was upset or down about something, leave it to Lightning to provide the entertainment: He would find a little ball toy and bat it around like it was a hockey puck in front of me. One afternoon, having had a depressing day at work, he watched me sulk through the door, then jumped on the mantle. As I passed, he jumped on my shoulders from behind and, with comforting purrs, proceeded to knead my neck!

Once, his little "jumping" routine possibly saved me from being robbed. I'd put an ad in the local newspaper that I had a bookcase for sale. A few people came to see it, and Lightning just sat in the hallway, watching. Then an older man with a blue cap came by to see it. Uncle Lighty studied him for a minute, then, with a loud hiss, jumped from the floor to his shoulders! The man brushed Lightning off and rushed, stumbling and scared senseless, out the door.

A week later, that same man was arrested for entering someone's home to supposedly buy a piece of furniture, but robbing them instead!

In March of 2015, I’d noticed Lightning was losing weight fast and walking with a slightly more delicate gait. He also had begun drinking water like it was going out of style. At first, I’d assumed it was due to the new environment; I had just moved into the house a month earlier.

Finally, on the morning of April 8, after I noticed he’d refused to eat and was becoming seriously lethargic, I took Lightning to the vet. Although my mind didn’t want to accept it, I could look at the cat and see that he was near death. Before we left, and in true “Lighty” form, he lapped up a bowl of water as if to say, "Look, dad! I'll beat this too!" But Dr. Adams did blood tests and, shortly, came back with the grim news: Lightning was in the final stage of Chronic Kidney Failure (CKF). He had no noticeable red blood cells left. He said the cat could've inherited it from his mother, and it could've stayed dormant over all these years. And it's always fatal to cats!

Lightning... my best friend, the pet's doctor, psychologist, surrogate mother, comedian, and protector... was dying, and I knew that nothing could make him better. So the doctor suggested he be euthanized... he would've lasted only a couple of days otherwise. Though I expected the prognosis, the blood drained from my face and I felt numb all over. After a lot of prayer and soul-searching, I told him to do it but make it quick... I couldn't stand to see my hero suffer like that.

At 4:46 PM, Doc Adams gave him an intra-abdominal injection. Lightning looked at me like, "D-daddy, wha... what're they doing to me?" Man, I wanted to reach out and save him so much. My heart was going as fast as his, I guarantee it!

Then, with one mighty "MEOW!", he went limp... and, at 4:47 PM, he was pronounced dead.

Hmph. Dead. My Lightning.

Sorry to disappoint you, doc, but... heroes NEVER die...


About the Creator

Chuck Hinson

Chuck Hinson is a freelance writer, entertainment publicist, blogger and record promoter.

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