My mother always hated cats. I grew up in the suburbs, and when the neighborhood cats came visiting, my mom would bang on the window in an attempt to scare them off. I thought she would always dislike cats, but that was before the nicest cat in the world entered our lives.
He arrived one day out of the blue while I was away at university. During one weekend visit, I came home and my father announced that we had kittens. This completely confused me, as we’d never had pets growing up and I knew that my mom didn’t like cats.
Dad ushered me down to the basement, and he pointed out the window. There in the dugout space was a calico cat and three tiny kittens. The kittens were insanely cute, bouncing around with that spastic energy that only kittens have. The largest kitten was coal black. The next largest had a beautiful striped heather-gray coat. And, finally, the smallest kitten was a mousy brown tabby. He was clearly the runt of the litter.
The questions came pouring out of my mouth. "How did the cats get here? How long have they been here?" Before my dad could answer, my mom yelled, "Hey, it’s time to feed the cats. I’ll put the food out."
My father ran upstairs, and as I ascended the steps, I heard them having a heated discussion in Chinese. It was quite amusing to watch them argue like an old married couple over what was best to feed the cats.
And that’s pretty much how my parents adopted a family of cats. The cats lived outside, and my parents fed them daily. During the winter, my father even built a makeshift shelter to keep the cats shielded from the wind and snow.
When I finished the school year and moved back home for the summer, I took on the duty of feeding the cats. I would carry out a dish of food and then, a flurry of furry felines would circle my legs, mewing to be fed. As soon as I set down the food, the cats dove right in, except for the little brown tabby. He seemed much more curious about me than he did about eating. Over the weeks, his friendly overtures increased, and soon, he was as affectionate as any house cat. As a result, I decided to name him Feely, because he was a touchy-feely cat.
One day, the black cat failed to show up for dinner. My parents worried about what happened. We hoped for the best and thought that maybe he had simply grown up and decided to stake out his own territory.
Then, a few weeks later, the heather-gray cat disappeared, too. This prompted me to put up flyers around the neighborhood. I received a phone call from a young boy who told me he had seen a dead cat by the side of the road. I braced myself for the worst –and, indeed, it was Feely’s sister.
We debated about whether to bring Feely inside, but my mom was hesitant about having pets in the home. We also wondered whether he would adapt. Because Feely continued to show up for dinner like clockwork, we decided to leave things as they were. At the time, we didn’t know that we would soon regret that decision.
Feely disappeared just a few days before Christmas. He simply stopped showing up. We became more concerned with each passing day. Then, we received the most amazing miracle on Christmas Day. Feely came home.
We spotted him in the yard, but something was clearly wrong. Without hesitation, my mom said, "Bring him inside, now." Feely was ecstatic to be allowed inside the house, and he sat contentedly in my lap. However, his jaw was hanging crookedly. Despite the pain he must have been in, Feely continued to purr.
We were overjoyed that Feely had come home, but we knew we had to take him to the vet right away. Fortunately, the animal hospital near our home was also an emergency clinic. We were able to get him an appointment that day. The vet told us that Feely’s jaw was broken in two places and that they would have to break it again to reset it properly.
With a farewell pat on the head, we left Feely at the vet’s office. He was an outdoor cat who had never spent a single day of his life inside. We worried about whether he would be scared, and how he would react to the strange medical staff.
We needn’t have worried. When we picked Feely up two days later, the vet gushed, "Feely is the nicest cat in the world. He looks right at you and talks to you all the time." Despite all the poking and prodding, Feely was friendly with all of the staff and purred continuously. He had the entire clinic wrapped around his little paw.
When we brought him home, there was no question where Feely would live. He had our family wrapped around his paw, too. He was welcomed into the house. And that was how the nicest cat in the world turned my mom into the biggest cat lover in the world.
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