By Larry J. Kramer
Dumb love…hmmm. Dumb love. I’ve heard the expressions, “Tough Love,” “Blind Love,” “Undying Love,” and “Endless Love,” along with many other adjectives describing this feeling. But not, “Dumb Love.” Let me explain.
This story begins in May 1992. While a group of employees and I were cleaning out an area in a trucking warehouse, we startled a female cat. She ran out of a large box and off the dock area. Upon hearing a noise coming from the box we discovered four small kittens that were about three weeks old, eyes open, but hardly able to walk. We thought that if we put them aside and left them alone, the mother would return and carry them off, one by one, to a safe new home. Two days later the mother cat had not returned. The small kittens were mewing constantly, hungry no doubt and getting close to death. Taking matters into my own hands, I put the small mewing kittens in a box and took them home. I stopped at a pet store and got some kitten formula (yes, there is such a product) and a couple of small feeding bottles (about like a doll’s baby bottle).
For the next several days and nights, my wife, Meggin, and I took turns getting up every couple of hours, and coming home at least twice a day to feed the little creatures. Man alive, did they ever like to eat! They started to grow and within two weeks, they were walking (staggering), and to my amazement, using a small litter box. Needless to say, we had become attached to these cuddly, warm little babies. Giving them away was out of the question…we had “named” them. And very appropriately I might add.
White: A “white” male and the largest. Light blue eyes…crossed, light orange markings. Very sweet and shy. Gets his feelings hurt easy.
Gray: A “gray” female. Green eyes and the softest, gunmetal gray fur you can imagine. Smart.
Brown: A “brown” female. Dark blue penetrating eyes. Elusive.
Black: A “black” male and the smallest. Solid black fur, green eyes. Your typical “Halloween Cat.” Full grown, now, and no bigger than a kitten, weighing all of six pounds. Mischievous beyond belief—and the star of this story.
Black is an amazing cat. Small, skinny, wiry, quick, smart, friendly—and has used up most of his “nine lives.”
When he was about two months old he fell in a bowl of water and almost drowned. Luckily I found him and nursed him back to health.
At about one year of age, I found him one morning, impaled on a small hook in the garage by his lower hind leg. Blood everywhere, on the wall, on the floor, on cabinets…a bloody mess. I rushed him to the veterinarian. No broken bones…a few stitches and he was fine.
Soon after that, unexplainable things started to occur. Strange items suddenly appeared on our rear patio and sidewalk area. Not the usual offerings of small mammals or birds. I mean strange. Shoes, gloves, shirts, rags, sponges, bathing suits, hats, dolls. I could go on and on.
Some of the more bizarre items he brought home include a full-size badminton net (in the bag); a large sack of drip system emitters; a bag of nuts, bolts, and screws, along with instructions on how to put together a barbecue grill. GOK (God only knows) how that finally went together.
It got so that 5-10 items were showing up everyday. I had to put a large 33-gallon plastic garbage bag up at the community mailbox with “Black’s Bounty” for neighbors to look through for their belongings. Small neighborhood children would come to our door, “Mr. Kramer, would you check and see if Black stole one of my shoes. My mom’s mad at me for losing it, and I know I put them on the porch.” Sure enough, the day was saved…shoe on the patio.
To see a tiny black cat, coming down the street, or over a fence, with something larger than he, in his mouth, looking over his shoulder every few yards to see if he’s being followed, is a sight to behold.
During this same time period, his meow changed to a more distinct greeting, “Yak, Yaakk, Yaaakkk.” Always the same rhythm, tone and cadence. Always, “Yak, Yaakk, Yaaakkk.” Black would never look away when he greeted me. He always looked me straight in the eye. “Yak, Yaakk, Yaaakkk.”
Once he started communicating with me in that manner, it has never varied. Whether it is first thing in the morning when I let him out of the garage or when I’m working around the yard and he comes over to investigate, it’s always, “Yak, Yaakk, Yaaakkk.” It seems at times, I’m able to communicate back, with my rendition of “Yakk, Yaakk.” (too bad this article doesn’t come with a sound file!)
Black has been through several other close encounters that could have lead him to meet his maker. He was crushed under a neighbor’s garage door one evening. We estimate he must have been pinned under the door for three hours after going in there on one of his hunting expeditions, no doubt. The door pinned him just across his lower back as he was going into the garage. He wore off all his front claws trying to free himself. His pads were bleeding profusely when I found him. (Luckily I always look for all of our outside cats each night in order to lock them in the garage for their safety). Again to the veterinarian. No broken bones, some nerve damage, but he healed after a short period of rest.
His most recent mishap was a broken leg. Left front. How it happened, I can only guess. After two operations, a cast for thirteen weeks, several prescriptions to ward off infections, confined to a large cage during the recuperation period, with constant loving care, he recovered.
And all the while the same greeting, day in day out. Looks me straight in the eye, “Yak, Yaakk, Yaaakkk.” I pick him up, hold him close to my chest, nuzzle him next to my cheek. He seems to almost reach his tiny front legs up around my neck as if to hug me. “Yak, Yaakk, Yaaakkk” (“I love you, man”), he says. “Yak, Yaakk” (“I love you, too”), I say back, as I kiss him on his head.
They’re called dumb animals because they don’t speak in a tongue recognizable to humans. Anyone who has loved a pet, knows, they communicate in their own way. Dumb…hardly.
Dumb Love…Hmmm. I’ve experienced it. Have you?