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2015 Christmas, Special Tails

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As I sit here watching Anastasia and Creamsicle tear around the house, chasing each other, it’s hard to believe what they came through to get to this point. Let me tell you they’re amazing heartfelt love story.

In 2004, a beautiful lynx point Himalayan with gorgeous blue eyes and a wonderful silky coat was born into a horrific situation. A woman who felt she was “saving” cats had collected over 300 of them. She kept them enclosed in cages behind a cyclone fence in the middle of the high Nevada desert. A kind soul reported this situation to the authorities, who contacted a rescue group that managed to take most of them, including Anastasia, into their care. Sometime later, I adopted Anastasia, who by now was between 3 and 5 years old.

Anastasia arrived in a carrier surrounded by 5 other cats and 6 dogs. To say that she was terrified and bewildered is an understatement. At first she refused to eat, and she hid in a corner for almost a month, after which she managed to find her ‘safe place,’ on the sofa in the family room. She would never go to any other room in her home and was so fearful that she could not allow you to walk by her without running and hiding. It was over a year before she would allow petting and then eventually, hand feeding. Two years later, I was still not allowed to pick her up or pet the top of her head. All other cats terrified her; she was small at only 5 lbs. Her sofa was the one place that she could see everything and escape quickly. Over the years she tried so hard to be relaxed! She would sit about 12 inches away from me, then put first one paw and eventually just her head on my lap. Each day I worked with her and her trust was growing, but still she would not leave her sofa or go to any other room in her house. She spent five years just being on the ‘safe’ sofa.

Now fast forward to early 2015. A Purebreds Plus volunteer gets a call from a frantic woman who anxiously blurts out “You have to come and get this animal. Right now, something is really wrong with it. It can hardly walk and bumps into things plus it is in my flower bed and ruining my flowers. You must come and get it right now!!” He responds with all the right questions: “Are you sure it is a cat, is it yours, do you know who it could belong to?” The excited voice says, “NO, I just want it out of here. NOW! Something is wrong with it!” Realizing that whatever it is he needs to go and see, he asks about an address and says that he will come right away. As he heads to the garage for a kitty carrier, he hears “You can’t come here, meet me at Safeway parking lot in 30 minutes” and then a dead line. In the parking lot, the woman drops a carrier and peels out of the parking lot. Our volunteer opens the carrier to see, a kitty, that much he can tell, but what has happened to it? What is the hard shell that covers its entire body, why can’t it move, why is the face almost completely crusted over, is it hurt, is that blood? It can hardly breathe, the little mouth is open and pink tongue is showing. The volunteer knows that urgent care is needed, so he calls one of our more experienced fosters, who tells him, “Yes, bring it to me. I will meet you in an hour. I will call others so they will be ready. Are you certain that it can breathe? Watch that closely!” The miles on the freeway speed past, and as he begins talking gently, the kitty, who cannot see anything, sits absolutely still.

They finally arrive at their destination, where a whole team is standing by the door, anxiously waiting. The table in the back is covered with warmed towels and wash cloths in readiness. Warm loving gentle hands reach into the carrier and pick up a tiny kitten that is so matted that it cannot move: all four of its legs are stiff, the mats reach all the way down to the skin, and its eyes and nose are covered in crust.

There was no movement from the little one as they positioned him on his side and began the slow laborious work of removing his entire matted coat, all the way down to his little pink skin. As his little face was alternately washed with warm water and treated with warm compresses, slowly the crust came off the eyes, and almost magically they opened — huge, blue eyes that seemed to say “Thank you for helping me!” There were soft voices and soft kisses on the little nose as the clock ticked on. Finally, the crusty shell of coat came off to show where bugs and fleas had been trapped underneath against his skin. Leaves, twigs, rocks, dirt and more dirt were extracted, and the process went on until there was only a little pink creature with enormous blue eyes. No bath tonight, just a warm blue sweater to match his eyes. Suddenly the little guy stood up, walked to each person in turn and put his little nose against them, one after the other. It was a thank you that they would never forget. He was named temporarily Creamie, short for Creamsicle. He knew now that he was safe, warm and very loved.

By September 2015, Creamie was living with me and had grown enough fur to be allowed to go without his sweater. His scars were gone, the bug bites were healed, and he looked like a tiny white fluffy baby sheep. It turns out he had the breathing problem we often see in Himalayans, but we did laser surgery on his tiny, pushed in, pink nose, which made a huge difference in his breathing ability. Creamie was recovering, being a loving little baby, and sprouting more snow white angel fur. His eyes looked even bigger and bluer. He liked to follow me anywhere I went (he preferred to be carried but walking was ok) and was content being just a baby where the world was one happy place after another. Until one evening when he decided to jump up on Anastasia’s sofa. Anastasia had no idea he was coming and reverted back to her desert days instantaneously. We held our breath, and time slowed to a crawl. Anastasia crouched, ears back, eyes dilated, hissing and making deep growling animal sounds, her claws were out, something awful was going to happen right before my eyes, and I could do nothing to stop it! I froze in place as more seconds went by, and there was nothing but the sound of fear from Anastasia. Slowly, ever so slowly, Creamie stepped closer, quietly sat down beside Anastasia, and just looked at her. Then he gently dipped his head down to hers and began slowly to lick the top of her head and her ears. He washed and washed, burrowing his little nose deep into her fur, and it was all over. Time began again.

The love and gentleness that a tiny white kitten named Creamie shared melted a heart and opened a world full of joy. Creamie worked his magic on all of us, but most of all on Anastasia. Everyone who has met him comes away filled with happiness.

So how does this story end? Anastasia now plays like a little kitten with the laser light and loves the balls with bells in them. She sleeps on my bed, and all of the fear has drained out of her. She has visited all of the rooms in the house and has made them all her own. She and Creamie love to play racehorse through the house. Her world and mine has expanded and is better then I ever thought possible.

Can you imagine what the world could be like if, like Creamsicle, we all freely gave of our kindness, compassion and love. Giving the smallest things in life such as a smile, acceptance, or as in Creamie’s case a kind lick, can make a world of difference in the life of others. That one simple act of kindness, given freely, can change a heart from cold to gold, just by showing that we understand, care and that they are not alone. Try it this holiday season…and see what happens.