An Unexpected Gift

January can be an unforgiving month, however the biting cold registered little in my mind as I made my way into work this past Monday.  Bundled in warm coat, boots and gloves, I felt little of the frigid air.  Of course at that moment, I had no idea that forty kilometers and over an hour away, a drama was already unfolding that would make this a Monday like no other.

Arriving at work, I began my morning routine without much thought.  Suddenly a coworker appeared beside my desk, out of breath and excited.  “We’ve found a cat outside and we need you” he said and then hurried off, confident that I would be close on his heal, which of course I was.  Upon arriving on the other side of the office, I was presented with a shivering and dirty eight week old kitten.

Knowing instantly that he was in very bad shape, we all hastily launched into action, first wrapping his icy and emaciated body in a towel and then attempting to nurse him with water.  After frantic searching, we found a vet close to the office, and myself and a fellow co-worker rushed off in my car, the baby now lying barely conscious in her lap.   With me driving far too fast, we both tried desperately to keep the little guy awake, knowing that hypothermia had started to take its’ hold.

At the animal hospital, we tearfully handed him over to the vet, his life signs barely visible.  Our hearts sank as the vet explained that he was not hopeful.  We sadly trudged back to work, burdened with not knowing if he would survive the next few hours.  Back at the office, we were immediately besieged by concerned co-workers, and I was astonished at how many hearts this little baby had touched in such a short period of time.

Later that afternoon I was thrilled to hear from the vet that he was responding well to treatment.  I passed the good news around the office, however warned everyone that the doctor was still hesitant, knowing that a kitten so small could easily turn during the night.  He had suffered from severe hypothermia, dehydration and malnutrition and was still very much in danger.

The next morning I arrived back at the hospital, where I was cheerfully handed a warm, healthy and very lively bundle of joy.  My eyes welled with tears as the vet excitedly described the kitten’s strong will and determined personality.  With nothing short of awe, he animatedly explained how he could not account for the little guy’s recovery, with anything short of a miracle.  Gazing down into the kitten’s little face, I knew that fate had brought us together for a reason, and readily agreed to bring him home with me.

No longer showing signs of his heartbreaking abandonment and mistreatment, he is growing stronger each day, and has since been named Beni, after the woman who first found him shivering on the cold pavement outside our office that fateful Monday morning.

And as he sits purring contentedly in my lap, I can’t help but feel humbled by the incredible bravery and fortitude he has shown.  In a few short days he has taught us more about gratefulness, determination, love, and a true will to live, than any of us had expected.  All of my personal hardships now seem trivial and far away, as little Beni and I begin our journey together.

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Three short days after writing this article, Beni passed away suddenly, succumbing to FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis), an unforgiving and sometimes silent killer.  His time in our lives was so brief, but I am still overwhelmed by the effect that he had on so many people.  He touched and brought happiness to every single person he met during that week, and his story and legacy continues to live on even after his death.

He will never be forgotten.

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