“Ms. Williams, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but…With this test result, we think the most humane option would be to put him down,” the vet said to me over the phone last week.

I suppose I didn’t even realize that this really was my cat until I heard these words.  After all, I’d scarcely succeeded in getting this stray cat to trust me enough to come near.

Reluctantly, after a long conversation and phone calls to family members, I agreed that they should euthanize my cat. I sat alone for an hour, beside myself and in tears.  Then the phone rang again.

Apparently, the senior veterinarian had disagreed with the prognosis. He said he wouldn’t euthanize this cat. It wasn’t necessary, he said, and it wasn’t right. This isn’t the sort of condition that requires such an extreme measure.

I was so relieved!  So glad I’d get to bring my semi-cat home.  He was still semi-stray, since he insisted on going out every night. It worried me, because sometimes he’d come back with scratches on his face. Once, he came back to my door in the morning with gasoline on his back, as if he had slept next to a car or a lawn mower.

Even with this good news, I was still consumed with guilt.  Just the day before, I was thinking of asking the vet if they knew of an organization that could help me find Kitkat a “forever-home.”

You see, I’d been trying for months to get the cat to stay inside with us, learn to use the litter box, and just be part of the family.  But night after night, Kitkat would wake me with loud meows from the sunroom – sometimes at 2 or 3 in the morning – and demand to be let out. He did spend the whole day snoozing on a comfy armchair, but at night, he was outta there.

To be honest, it was really exhausting trying to take care of this cat, my house, my son and myself, since I was diagnosed with progressive MS. Chronic pain is my constant companion, along with neuropathy, spasticity, balance and gait issues. Add to it all a sweet but skittish kitty, and I sometimes felt it was more than I could handle.  He had to have things done in a certain way, and any minor change would send him running to the door.  If there was a noise he didn’t recognize, he’d hide behind the couch.

This cat is kind of a hard case, I said to myself.

But if I really think about it… couldn’t God say the same thing about me?  After all, I don’t trust people easily – if at all (I mean, I am from Jersey!)  I’m kind of a loner and not open to new situations.  I have my own way of doing things, and I’m not about to change my ways at this stage of the game.  I have quirks aplenty, such as an aversion to crumbs on the kitchen table.  I cannot, will not eat until I clear those crumbs! And I need to have my chapstick and box of tissues near me at all times.

Does that sound a bit persnickety?

Just like my cat.

I had to remind myself that this cat had really come a long way from the days when he skulked around the perimeter of my yard, scrounging for food.  It took the better part of a year before he came close enough for me to pat him.  And when he finally did come near, he purred like a motorboat’s engine.  It was loud and clear.  He was making the effort as best he could.

And I’d come a long way too.  This time last year, I was in the hospital, recovering from an MS exacerbation.  When I came home, I couldn’t feel my feet, as I wrote about in an earlier post.  I didn’t bounce right back immediately; no, it took patience, time and a veritable village of health care professionals to help me literally get back on my feet.

If God had thrown up his hands and thought, that woman is such a hard case! …where in the world would I be? No, He didn’t give up on me. He was there all along.

So I’ll keep trying to make this persnickety semi-cat feel at home here, and I’ll keep in mind that even hard cases (like me and Kitkat) deserve a loving family and a good life. I’m grateful that God gave us both a second chance. Pardon me now, while I go let the cat out.

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