On the 4th of July, I found a kitten shut inside of a storage shed on a hot Texas day. I took her home, called her Jolene (from the Reba McEntire song), and nursed her back to health determined to find her a home. You can read about it in my first post on the subject, One Man’s Trash: The Ballad of Jolene.

I never did find her a home and she ended up living with us. She was skiddish, cautious, and never sought us out, choosing to hide and observe. Considering what she went through, who could blame her? If I had been abused and discarded in the cruel way she was, I wouldn’t like people either.

She wasn’t completely without affection. She formed a bond with a tomcat we also took care of named The Babadook. The two would cuddle and The Babadook would lick her affectionatly. You could hear her purring from across the room. It was really sweet.

I’m not sure what happened or why he did what he did, but The Babadook attacked her viciously one night… or day… it’s hard to tell when it happened. Jolene was a hider and not seeing her for a day or two wasn’t uncommon. There’s no telling how long it was before I found her. She lying on the floor between her litterbox and the wall – an unusual place for her. I picked her up for cuddles and immediately noticed pus oozing from two very large gashes on her neck.

The Babadook was thrown out of the house as it turned out he not only attacked Jolene, but tried to attack Evil Kitty, my 17 year old grumpy grandma cat, as well.

Jolene was infected when I found her and I immediately started treatment. I squeezed pus from her wounds, doctored her with alcohol and antibiotic cream from the vet. I did everything I could to save her.

Then, something terrible happened. I was hospitalized for a week – a story for another day. When I came home, Jolene was worse than ever. No one had been home to take care of her and the infection rerooted with a vengeance. She was now paralyzed, her spine inflamed.

I continued to care for her the best I could, but she slipped further and further away. By the end, she couldn’t move anything except her eyes and, with wide-eyed horror, they would watch me walk around the room.

I knew she was suffering, I knew she was miserable, and we asked the vet what her chances of recovery was. He answered “slim to none.”

So, we put her to sleep and ended her pain.

She was only with me for two months.

As I said, she was never affectionate and was always suspicious so I’m not sure if she ever had any affection for me at all, but nonetheless, I saw her as a pitiable creature, something that had been abused, abandoned, and then struck down. It just seemed like something was always against her every step of the way.

I hope I provided some comfort to her and gave her a place of safety for at least a little while. I hope that, for a brief time, she was content and happy.

I really wish her song had a happier ending.

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Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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