Boudica, Warrior Queen

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It was a cat that no one would have chosen. Especially not those looking for a sweet little pet to take home. I shared her story some months ago but there are some significant updates.

To recap: This little girl, un-named at the time, was found on the side of the road near death and weighed just over two pounds. I was told that she had so little energy that she could barely lift her head. A lady spotted her orange fur and slowed down. Realizing it was an animal in distress, she stopped.

The little cat didn’t run away. She couldn’t. She was totally emaciated. One could count every rib and every vertebra with ease. The woman picked her up on the side of the road and placed her in her car. She was taken to a veterinarian at the Senoia Animal Hospital and Pet Resort in Senoia.

The staff took her in. At their own expense, they did surgery on her back leg because of a terrible gash, an injury possibly caused by a hawk or some other wild predator. I happened to be there with another cat getting the annual shots. Dr. Kelly Alford shared with me a little about the cat that had been brought in and showed her to me.

She looked pitiful and there was nothing pretty about her. By this time she weighed just over 3 pounds. Dr. Alford wanted to know if I’d like another cat. I said, “No,” and went home. An hour later, I went back. I took her home. The staff had named her “Cider” due to the color of her coat.

Dr, Alford told me I could bring her back if it didn’t work out. She was forthright and told me that the cat may have a number of problems. They gave me cat food, some cat toys, and a phone number to call if we had issues.

When I got her home, I discovered that she had defecated all over the inside of the carrier. Then, when our other car approached her while she was still in the carrier, she vomited and defecated all over again. Not an auspicious beginning.

She was totally feral. I concluded that she had never been in human hands except for the vet’s office. I wasn’t sure she would ever adjust. As small as she was, she was aggressive and downright hostile. She was completely unhousebroken, and hissed, scratched, and bit anytime anyone who got close. She had diarrhea and anything she ate seemed to go right through her.

I went back to the vet to get medicine for that condition but the problems persisted. I kept her in the guest bathroom with a litter box. Most of the time, she either didn’t use it, or she missed the litter box. Infrequently, there was success. My wife re-named her “Baby” because she was so small and vulnerable.

One morning, after about two weeks of total frustration, I went into the bathroom where she had experienced bowel movements during the night about 8 of them, and most on the floor or on the walls, not the litter box. It was 4 a.m. and she had been yowling all night. That was it. As Popeye famously said, “I’ve had all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!” I made the decision to return her to the vet that day.

I didn’t go back to bed. I moved her to the screened-in back porch and sat in the dark with her as she cowered in a corner, hissing at me from time to time. About 7 a.m., I realized that probably no one else would want her. Who would? She was scruffy, scraggly, and an unpleasant pain to even be around.

As the hours went on I watched this little cat that had seen nothing good in her life. I knew that she might have to be put down or perhaps, at best, live in a cage at the vet’s office for the remainder of whatever life she had left.

It was here that my mind went in a different direction. Honestly, I thought about God. I remembered how God had stayed with me and refused to abandon me even in my own ugliness and rebellion. I recalled the times that I had hissed at God, challenged God, and even cursed God. Even through all that, He did not give up on me.

I wondered if God had regretted giving me life and how I had misunderstood His efforts so much. I imagined that God had once looked at me like I looked at this cat — this cat who was angry, wounded, starved for good treatment and affection yet so hostile and distrustful.

So, I started talking to her. I told her that we were in this together for the duration, that I would not take her back to the vets, and that, somehow, we would make this work. I told her she was safe now. She hissed at me, of course.

We have had her around six months. She now weighs 8.3 pounds, a far cry from the feline found on the side of the road. She has learned to play and actually plays a good part of the day. She has adjusted from her days in the wild and is now a totally indoor cat.

Although she still doesn’t purr, she had learned to accept affection and keeps close to my wife or me most of the time. She is a changed cat. More so each day. She sleeps on our bed next to our other indoor cat, a 25-pound, 13-year-old Maine Coon mix who is also a rescue cat we have had since he was a tiny kitten.

We changed her name one last time. After all she had been through, we named her Boudica after a Celtic warrior Queen of the Iceni tribe, who, against all odds, in A.D. 60 or 61 led a “very large army,” and went up against the Roman Empire in what is now Great Britain. It seems to fit.

Hopefully the life and death struggle for our own little Boudica (who my wife calls, “Boody”) is over and she can live out all her days in peace in a home that cares for her.

The other day I saw her through the window on the screened-in front porch, patiently and peacefully sitting in a rocking chair, gazing over the pasture and field. She is filled out now and is beautiful. Sitting in the chair she looked downright regal. She was in her domain, now. The warrior queen has a home.

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the crisis, the church is live streaming at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays at http://www.facebook.com/cctksharpsburg/ He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South He may contacted at davidepps@ctk.life.]