Sugar was a cat. Nothing special, just a black cat with large green eyes that peered out from under shaggy eyebrows. She was lying in the long grass in the sweltering heat, too feeble to move and meowing pitifully at anyone who passed as if crying out for help. How long she had lain there with selfish, thoughtless humans passing her by was not known. She occasionally lifted herself onto her front paws as if trying to get up and free herself from her torment.
I met Sugar on my way from work and fell in love with her at first glance. Her green eyes seemed to be begging me to help her, and she was crying in pain. My heart turned over as I bent down to stroke her. Her fur was matted and underneath the sorry black coat I could feel every rib and count every vertebra. She was just skin and bone and as I moved my hands gently down her flanks I, in my ignorance, concluded that she must have been a female cat and heavily pregnant. I could feel no movement in her swollen belly and surmised that no kittens could have survived the torture that had taken its toll on that young body.
I was torn in two. I could not possibly leave the cat in such pain, but perhaps she had an owner who was looking for her at that very moment. I ran my hand over her flanks one more time and made up my mind. She was badly emaciated and very pregnant and it was fairly obvious that nobody cared about her. I gently lifted her and carefully carried her home, and as I walked I murmured gentle words of comfort to ease the cat’s distress. She laid her head on my shoulder and, although she gave the odd pained cry, I could tell she was grateful as she attempted to purr.
Once home I gave her a saucer of milk from which she only took a couple sips before settling down on an old blanket I had found and watching me, ears pricked – well, as pricked as she could manage. Now that she was relaxed and fairly comfortable with sustenance within easy reach I could think out my next move. Not much thinking was required to pick up the phone and ring the person who would give the best advice - my mother.
She advised I should ring a vet to get the cat checked over and do whatever was necessary. The first vet that I picked out of the book was very understanding and told me to bring the cat straight in. I called a taxi and prepared a box. The little cat watched me and I looked into her green eyes – oh, such trusting eyes – and then picked her up and laid her in the box, stroking her and letting her know that I cared and that, in her moment of need, someone was there to help her.After what, in the cat’s mind, must have been a hellish ten minutes in the taxi we arrived at the surgery and the vet was as good as her word and saw her immediately.
The vet had very bad news for me. The cat was not female at all, but a tomcat. He was about two years old and a fine looking cat, who unfortunately was dying a long and painful death. He had a fatal case of FIP, Feline Intestinal Peritonitis, which would kill him soon and in great pain. Euthanasia seemed to be the only answer to ease his agony. I checked that I could not help him by taking him home and nursing him back to health. The vet said the disease was too advanced and nothing could be done to cure him.
With a heavy heart I signed the consent form and then I kissed the cat. As I stroked him, he lay down as if he knew what was coming and he welcomed that peace that death would bring to his pain-wracked body and troubled mind. He looked trustingly up into my eyes and I could have sworn he was thanking me. I kept stroking him; not wanting to leave him, although I knew it was best for him. I looked deep into his eyes and then I knew I was glad that I had not left him to suffer alone, and that he had known love and trust before he passed to that better place where he was assuredly bound. I had no doubt that a place would be reserved in Heaven for him, he was such a loving cat and had missed out on so much love in return.
I knew I had to leave him and the vet was so kind. She sympathised with me and let me stay a while to make up to the little cat all the love he had missed out on. Then I tore myself away from those love-filled eyes and opened the door. A thought occurred to me and I turned back to the vet.
"By the way, his name is Sugar. I called him Sugar and he seems to like it."
The vet smiled and nodded, I closed the door on Sugar and went home.
‘And now these three things remain;
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.’
1 Cor 13:13
(c) cq 1988