Buddy Bear, the striking, long-haired ebony cat with piercing green eyes, is a standout in any crowd, especially in his communi- ty cat clowder. A regal mane frames his handsome face, and while he looks like the king of the jungle, he is, at heart, a
sweet pussycat. The friendly, fixed tom was as popular with all the cats in his managed colony as he was
with his caregiver. Being from Louisville, Kentucky, his
Southern charms always worked on his caregiver for an
extra treat or good ear scratch.
One winter morning, the caregiver noticed something
wrong with Buddy Bear. He wasn’t bounding up for his
morning meal. In fact, he barely moved. Buddy Bear
was quickly taken to Louisville Metro Animal Services,
where it was determined he
could not use his back legs,
and emergency medical attention was required. Luckily, the
animal shelter has a premium
partner in Alley Cat Advocates
— the partnership benefits cats
the shelter doesn’t have the
resources to manage. Buddy
Bear fit the bill.
He was transported to
a local veterinary clinic for
diagnostics, and ACA agreed
to provide any additional care
that might be needed. X-rays
were taken, and speculations
flew as to what could have
caused the injury. Then the
unthinkable revealed itself:
Someone had shot Buddy Bear near his shoulder blades.
The veterinary staff shaved off a patch of fur where the
X-ray showed the entry site of the bullet.
The good news was that the wound needed no care;
it had healed nicely and was a nonissue. However, the
bullet was lodged in a location where removal was risky,
and the damage done to his spinal cord and related
nerves is expected to be permanent. After his initial
veterinary visit, Buddy Bear was on cage rest for one
month to ensure the bullet wasn’t shifting. He received
two weeks of antibiotics and was closely watched as he
acclimated to new indoor digs.
ACA was happy to help him. “Helping all stray cats is
our mission. We do so without regard to cost as a way
to demonstrate in deeds, not just words, that all cats are
important, regardless of from what type of ‘home’ they
originate,” said Karen Little, president of ACA. “It is part
of the ‘Culture of Caring’ that we’re working to create
and support in our community.”
News of Buddy Bear spread. ACA posted updates
about his condition on social media, and the fluffy feline
received an outpouring of support. The next impera-
tive person in his life stepped forward — a foster mom
willing to do whatever it takes to make Buddy Bear feel
loved and pampered. While Buddy Bear can defecate
without assistance, he can’t urinate on his own, and his
foster expresses his bladder twice a day.
Buddy Bear adjusted quite well to his new foster
home. For a few days, he was kept in a closed cage, but
as soon as the door was opened, he was out and about.
He’s able to slide himself along the tile floor and can even
go upstairs to get into the sunroom. His foster reported,
“Buddy Bear is not troubled at all about his legs not doing
much in his search for food. It is always about food!” His
foster hears him thudding off the bed that he’s climbed
up in his perennial quest for something yummy.
There is one problem,
though: Buddy Bear wants to
be petted all the time, and as
his foster shared, this can make
expressing his bladder some-
what of a challenge. “There is
no way to hold him that he can’t reach around and try
to flop over on his side so he can be petted rather than
wasting time on that bladder thing,” she said, chuckling.
Buddy Bear’s journey ends in a second victory: His
foster mom will not part with the irresistible cat who
makes her cry tears of joy and her heart swell — she’s
Buddy Bear’s best buddy for life.
Denise LeBeau is an award-winning essayist, writer,
editor, and self-professed poet laureate of the pet set.
For the last seven years, she’s been a full-time writer for
an animal welfare organization. She shares her home
in Hampton Bays, New York, with two rescued Siamese
cats, Flipper and Slayer, and two rescued moocher
mutts, Parker and Zephyrella. Connect with her on Facebook.
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