Rollie, Our Special Pet


This is the story of Rollie. Rollie came into our life in the winter of 1995. We already had three cats - Felix, a beautiful black cat with a mellow and loving personality and his sister, Felicia, a tiny delicate multi-brown colored cat. We also had made the mistake of feeding a stray who looked sad and hungry. I named him Puff [after Dick, Jane and Sally's cat - since he was the same color].

So, when my daughter Jessica said her friend Rena's cat had given birth to kittens in the horse barn, I said that was nice but we did not want any more kittens. Weeks later she told me there was one little kitten that she really liked. He was not like the others. He was crippled and didn't walk normal. He could only walk a step or two and then he would fall over. He didn't eat well. He was small, thin with little hair on his tail.

Jessica told me that Rena had named him Rollie. Jessica would visit her friend every few days. Ah, my daughter has a soft heart for the weak and she lost all reasoning when it came to her new little cause, Rollie. Every time she returned home, she would give me a update. I knew she had given her heart to this little creature. She asked if we could take Rollie in. She said that all the others had been adopted but Rollie wasn't chosen. I stayed quiet, hoping she would take the hint and not ask again. We had three cats and bringing in another would be an added expense as well as upsetting to the other cats. And the biggest obstacle of all ....

What would her father say?

My husband, Denny is a great guy and he suspected he was being softened up. He tried to be firm. He had already said "no" to her request to bring the little kitten home. It would not be easy for Jessica to get her dad to change his mind. My mind was already changed. Oh, I was not thrilled to take on another obligation and expense but when Jessica told me that Rena's stepfather was going to destroy him if they didn't find him a home - well, that left no choices. Who could stand by while someone destroyed this little kitten? It wasn't Rollie's fault he couldn't walk well.

It was a bitter cold day in January when Jessica and I drove to Rena's house. Jessica said that if Rollie had to spend the night outside in the horse barn, he would die. It was just too cold and he was too weak. She was right but Denny had already told us no. When we arrived, Rena brought Rollie out to us. He was in a box with a brown kitchen towel wrapped around him. It wouldn't have kept him warm in the bitter cold and although Rena ocassionally brought him inside to protect him, it was only a matter of time before her stepfather found out. So we took him home.

The agreement was to keep him the night ...only the night. Denny said we were to return him to Rena in the morning. I figured one night wouldn't hurt and maybe he'd be okay if the weather warmed up. When we drove the little guy back to his house, Rena came out and told us that she could no longer take him into the house. Her stepfather had found out and adamantly insisted the kitten stay outside in the barn.

I looked at Jessica. There was deep concern in her eyes. I shared her feelings. If Rollie were left outside in the subzero weather, he would die. No, that wouldn't do. I didn't want another cat but even worse than that, I wouldn't let him die. If Rollie stayed at Rena's house he was destined to die - either from the extreme cold that his little body couldn't handle or at the hands of a man who was willing to shoot what he considered a useless creature.

I took a breath, swallowed and said, "Okay, Jessica, we'll take him home. But your father will not be happy. You must give him time. He's a good guy - he'll come around."

We drove back home. Jessica was jubilant and I was apprehensive. As we walked into the house, I looked at Denny. He saw the kitten and a look of resignation was in his eyes. I told him that they would kill him if we didn't take him. He reluctantly agreed.

Within weeks, Rollie was given his first visit to the veterinarian, Dr. Ewing [Roscoe] said there was no way of knowing exactly what caused the problem. He suspected that Rollie was born with a defective brain stem or being born in a barn with horses - was injured at birth. He told us that other than his inability to walk, he was normal and should live a long life. He liked the idea that we were willing to take care of Rollie even though it was unlikely he would ever improve.

For the next few months, Jessica kept Rollie in her room most of the time. He was fed carefully and loved constantly. The little kitten quickly responded. Hair grew back on his tail. His orange striped fur became thick and glossy. He ate everything in sight. He jumped, scooted, flipped, and fell but he never walked more than a few steps at a time. Rollie needed to be taken to the litter box when he needed to relieve himself. He would occasionally soil himself, after which he was given a bath [which he hated.] In fact, if he was even held near the sound of running water he would react with fear and loud meowing. He soon learned to meow when he needed to use the litter box or when he was hungry or thirsty.

Looking back, I would have to say that Rollie has become a very loved addition to the family. Sure he is more work than the other cats in our house. He still needs to be taken to the litter box [but that is because it was kept in the basement.] He is able to get to the food and water. He loves to eat everything - pizza, bread and french fries. He is so special that he will lay next to family members for hours, just purring. He is so affectionate that he will crawl and scoot and flop his way across the room just to be near someone.

No Rollie isn't easy. He is special. The vet thinks we are wonderful people because we willingly took Rollie, but it is we who are blessed to have Rollie in our family.

It is with great sadness that I add this note: Rollie died on the morning of January 1, 2006. We had him since July of '94 - eleven years. He died quietly and peacefully in his little corner of the livingroom. The little granddaughters were devastated as were we. He was such a lesson in determination and thankfulness. Yes, he was a blessing and we will miss him. But as for Rollie, he is now in heaven and is able to walk.

Connie Eccles, CEO of ComPortOne

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