Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Tale of Budge

"The View Outside" 6" x 6" acrylic on Gessoed Hardboard, SOLD

Mewing.  There was mewing in the vicinity of our back door, a pleading chorus.

Where was it all coming from?  We didn't know.  It was a curiosity, nothing more.

But then we found them - a litter of newborn kittens in the shallow space beneath a cabinet in our garage.  We left the garage door open so that the mother could come and go freely. And eventually, one at a time, the mother removed the kittens from the garage.  The mewing lessened until only one voice remained.

The mewing of the remaining kitten was loud, desperate - needful.  But the mother did not return.

What to do?  My wife was very upset.  She lined a shoebox with papertowels, and then with hand towels.  We didn't know anything about cats.  She tried to feed him.  Nothing.

He was a beautiful black.  She named him Licorice.  He could fit on the palm of her hand.

She called her sister, who rushed over.  She and her niece brought Licorice to the Humane Society, where they were summarily informed that because there were too many strays, if they left him there he would be put down.

So my wife's sister brought Licorice home.  That name wouldn't do.  His name became Budge.  She and her husband brought him to the vet, who told them what they had to do.  He told them there was perhaps a 40% chance that Budge would survive.

But they were determined.  They bought cat supplies galore.

Her husband, my brother-in-law, stepped to the fore.  Around the clock, including all night, for days (weeks?), he had to feed Budge through a dropper every two hours.  But not only that.  He had to rub Budge's belly constantly.  It is not just for affection that a cat licks her kittens.  It teaches them to feed.

It was touch and go for a while.  There were times when Budge wouldn't eat.  There were other times he had to be rushed to the vet.

But against the odds, he survived.  And he lived the pampered life of a favored cat in their household for years.

One day I saw him sitting on the windowsill, and snapped the shot that the above painting is based upon.  I liked his silhouette against the lively background, and the shape of the large palm frond that seemed to shelter him.

And that is the story of Budge.

Critics.  There are always critics.