‘If I can stop one heart from breaking’

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, September 12, 2017

By Jean Brody

When I lived in Kentucky on my horse farm, there were these cats — a whole colony of feral and “dumped out” cats — and I fed them.

It was a bittersweet experience that I did for years because a wild, outdoor, unprotected life for a little cat is brutal. If they survive, they still are ill, procreate constantly and fight bitterly.

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So, why feed them? Well, I fed them because they were there (average about 20 at a time), they were hungry and they were God’s creatures just as much as I was.

I especially recall a pathetic little white kitten that showed up there. Everything he ate was,  um, in and out within 10 seconds. I cooked rice and took it to him warm. I am sure it looked silly to see an old lady fend off the other cats while he ate oh so slowly. Even though I fed the others nightly, they wanted his.

One morning, the temperature dropped to 10 degrees and his poor back legs, caked with bacteria, could not move to come to me so I knew he would not survive without help.

I drove home and grabbed a pillow case and a soft towel. Hurrying back to him, he surrendered to me so I put his back end into the pillow case and wrapped the top half of him in the soft, clean towel. I held him close to my body as I drove to the nearest animal clinic.

As his body warmed up, he literally produced “fumes.” The odor was awful, so bad that we were put into a separate room away from the other pets waiting to be seen by the vet.

He began squirming to get down and I had to do something to calm him. Aha! I will sing to him, I thought.

Just picture me sitting on a metal chair holding a very scared and pungent kitten. I began to sing, “You Are my Sunshine” and, sure enough, he relaxed and closed his little eyes.

However, he was still “thawing” and, I swear to you, I have never ever smelled anything so sickening. So, I’d sing “You Are my Sunshine” and then gag, sing, gag, sing, gag. Oh good Lord, what if I barf?

Finally, the vet rescued us. She unwrapped that little baby and we both almost fainted. She told me how sick he was and that I should just leave him there, that they would try to help him.

“At least he won’t freeze to death,” she said softly.

You know, the Bible tells us to be kind to the least of God’s creatures and that is what we did.

Every day I would visit him and, with medical care and love there, he did survive and eventually was adopted.

One of my favorite poets is Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, and something she penned has been my life motto for many years. It reads like this:

“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain,

If I can ease one life the aching, or cool the pain,

Or help one fainting robin into his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.”

The view from the mountains is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.