One day, I heard the sounds of a distressed kitten while I was in the garage. My mother was over at my house, and we began looking. There he was: a dirty, injured and hungry kitten on my driveway. I immediately picked him up, wrapped him in towels and asked my mother to go buy some food, cat milk and litter. Almost immediately, I named him Hobo because he showed up begging at my doorstep. This was a tribute to my grandfather, who was a hobo as a teenager during The Great Depression. Please read more about him in my post “Will Work for Food.”
At the time, I had two dogs and leftover supplies for a cat from my dearly departed cat, Gypsy. I took Hobo in and kept him quarantined from my dogs while I waited to see the vet, in case Hobo had any diseases or parasites that could harm my dogs. I set up my guest bathroom with food, a litter box, kitten milk, cat toys and plenty of towels. I washed him with Dawn dishwashing detergent to rid him of as many fleas or other parasites as possible and to clean his wounds.
The poor thing was lethargic and had difficulty walking. When I took him to the vet, they cleaned out more ear mites than you can imagine, and suddenly, Hobo was acting like a kitten. He played with toys and was full of love. The vet checked him for ringworm, but decided his paws just had scratches on them. Given my situation, the vet insisted I call her Kim and gave me her cell phone number & email address in case of emergency.
I wanted to be his forever home. I miss Gypsy everyday and because of her, both of my dogs LOVE cats. They wanted to play with Hobo so badly, but the vet agreed that Hobo should remain quarantined from the dogs until we were certain all the mites were gone. I would bring him out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel for sessions of petting and love, and I allowed my dogs to sniff Hobo. They both snuck in some kisses, too. Everyday, we fell more deeply in love with Hobo, but I couldn’t be his “forever home.”
It has been my intent for this blog to be positive, uplifting and encouraging, but I feel obligated to give you the reasons why I couldn’t keep Hobo permanently. At the time when he showed up, I was in the process of getting epilepsy under control, which meant no driving until I was seizure-free for 6 months. I was afraid that I would crush Hobo if I had a seizure, and they were happening frequently. I also have discoid lupus (the less serious form of the disease that affects skin/connective tissue). I promise that this post ends on a very positive note, so I’m not breaking my own rules for this blog. 🙂
Without question, Hobo was going to stay with me until I found a spot for him with a “no kill” facility. The overcrowded Humane Society moved him up the wait list due to my situation, but it was still going to be 6 weeks before they had a place for him.
I went into the guest bathroom frequently to play with him, wrap him in a towel and hold him while he rubbed his face on mine and kneaded on me. For those unfamiliar with that term, kneading comes from the term ‘kneading bread.’ Cats will gently push on people with their paws repeatedly as a show of affection. He was very affectionate, and it was as though Hobo knew I saved him and wanted to show his appreciation. Everyday, he was gaining weight from regular feedings, looking healthier and acting happy. With the driving restrictions that come with epilepsy also come feelings of isolation, loneliness and that I’m not fulfilling any purpose, so taking care of Hobo dissipated those feelings.
One day, I received a phone call from my mother. My father was in the ER and needed to have emergency surgery. It was very serious, and the surgery was risky because my father’s BP was extremely low. Like 60/40 low. I couldn’t drive to the hospital to be with my family. The minutes ticked by so slowly, as I sobbed and was filled with anxiety. I brought Hobo out of the bathroom and cried into the towel he was wrapped in, and both dogs sat on either side of me. Hobo kneaded on my chest the whole time. Turns out, I needed him that day as much as he needed me the day I found him on my driveway. Finally, my mother called; my father made it through the surgery.
A few days later, I had a rash all over my chest, ringworm, which is dangerous for someone with discoid lupus. The doctor said I had to get rid of Hobo immediately that day. It was still several weeks until Hobo could go to The Humane Society. I called the vet, Kim. She agreed to take Hobo to her farm. It was hard to give him up after he’d helped see me through my father’s surgery just a few days earlier.
My mom drove me to Kim’s clinic. We both wept because he was a special kitten that would make a great pet if he’d shown up in a different season of my life. We were happy together, but it wasn’t safe for either of us at that time. Nonetheless, we needed each other for the weeks we spent together.
Another amazing thing happened because of Hobo. As I said before, I didn’t feel like I was contributing to the world while my health left me isolated. As I was holding Hobo about to say goodbye to him in the waiting room at Kim’s clinic, a young woman came in with a very sick dog, a stray found in the street in desperate need of emergency care. The lady couldn’t afford the office visit. I pulled out my wallet and found the exact amount of the cost of the visit. I usually use my debit card and rarely have cash on me. I handed the money to the vet technician holding the dog, finally feeling like I was making a difference for someone and contributing to the world.
God sets situations in motion to work together at exactly the right time. Because Hobo showed up when he did, I was able to rescue him when I’d lost my purpose. He, in turn, comforted me during my father’s surgery. If he hadn’t given me ringworm, I wouldn’t have been at Kim’s clinic on THAT day and time when the lady and dog needed me. I saw God’s timing at work because of Hobo. I came to realize that He was still using me, even though I felt purposeless. What a special blessing that kitten was to me!
Kim emailed me several times with stories about Hobo. She fell in love with him, too. Knowing his back story and the things that happened because of Hobo, her farm became his forever home.