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The Integrity of Ugly
Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was. Ugly was the resident tomcat. Ugly loved three things in this world: fighting, eating garbage, and, shall we say, loving. These three things, together with a life spent outside, had taken their toll on Ugly. To start with, he had only one eye, and where the other should have been, was a gaping hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side. His left foot appeared to have been badly broken at one time, and had healed at an unnatural angle, making him look like he was always turning the corner. His tail had long been lost, leaving only the smallest stub which he would constantly jerk and twitch. Ugly would have been a dark gray, striped tabby except for the sores covering his head and neck. Even his shoulders were covered with thick, yellowing scabs. Every time someone saw Ugly, there was the same reaction... That's one UGLY cat! All the children were warned not to touch him, the adults threw rocks at him, hosed him down, squirted him when he tried to come in their homes, or shut his paws in the door when he would not leave. Ugly always had the same reaction. If you turned the hose on him, he would stand there, getting soaked until you gave up and quit. If you threw things at him, he would curl his lanky body around your feet in forgiveness. Whenever he spied children, he would come running, meowing frantically, bumping his head against their hands, begging for their love. If you ever picked him up, he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt, earrings, whatever he could find.
This cat was obviously someone's abandoned pet, as he is so social with people. Decided to adopt him. I picked him up and carried him home. I felt a familiar tugging, sucking sensation on my ear. Ugly, was trying to suckle my ear. I pulled him closer to me, and he bumped the palm of my hand with his head, then he turned his one golden eye towards me, and I could hear the distinct sound of purring. That ugly, battle-scarred cat was asking only for a little affection, perhaps some compassion. At that moment, I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite or scratch me, try to get away from me, or struggle in any way. Ugly just looked up at me completely trusting in me.
Took him to the vets', and told them that I just rescued this stray cat. And can he be cleaned up? The vets tested for viruses and they came back negative. And they were able to clean and treat the sores. Can't do much about the missing tail or eye except clean and stitch up the gaping hole where the eye used to be. The foot doesn't seem to cause him problems, so the vets left it alone. While the vets had Ugly to work on, they neutered him. No more getting into cat fights, and less stray kittens getting born. This cat now looks a lot less ugly.
While Ugly still has one eye, one ear, and no tail, people in the apartment complex ask if this is the same cat that used to be that ugly stray? No more ugly sores to put people off anymore. People let their kids play with Ugly, now that they know he is taken care of.
Ugly doesn't get to do those old favorite things he used to do before. The neutering relieved him of his desire to get into fights and lovemaking. And he doesn't get to eat garbage anymore. He has to make do on commercial cat food. But he gets to sleep on my bed at night, and doesn't have to endure lousy weather anymore.Ugly Version 2.0 Robert Casey
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