A Yella Cat for Christmas

yella catsThis darling photo reminded me of a sweet but bygone Christmas tradition in my dad’s house–the Christmas kitty.  

For a few years running, back before the grandchildren came along, Daddy used to bring home a little kitten on Christmas Eve.  Whichever one had been left at the kennel after the cutest ones had been adopted.  So what I’m trying to say–gently–is that these weren’t your most attractive kittens.  They were the kinda wonky ones, that still deserved love.  

Well, one year, we got the wonkiest of them all.  His name was Little Red.

It was a few hours until Christmas Eve dinner and we kids were all hanging around in the kitchen watching Daddy and Gay cook.  You know, like you do in big families with small kitchens.  That’s when Daddy looked over his shoulder from the stove and said, “Oh, I almost forgot!  I got us a Christmas kitten–Brett, run down to the clinic and get that little orange kitten and bring him home.”  Brett DISSOLVED into laughter so we knew something had to be up.  

Thirty minutes later, here comes Brett with a cardboard cat carrier that’s making little mewling noises.  She sets the carrier down in the center of the library rug but won’t open it up until she has everyone’s attention.  “Y’all just aren’t going to believe how beautiful this kitten is!  Close your eyes!”  So we do and she starts giggling again and there’s some rustling and mewling and…

…I wish I had a picture.

There in the middle of the rug stood a bright orange kitten, about the size of a coffee cup.  He looked like he had been hit by a truck because, well he had been hit by a truck.  This tiny fluff ball had his right front leg in a cast wrapped in red bandages.  His left back leg was popped out of joint and still sitting crooked.  His nose had been sewn back on with some stitches poking out.  He looked like he had sideburns because of the dark greasy streaks from some earmite medicine.  His whole backside had been shaved so Daddy could sew up a long laceration right by his hooty-hole.  Which was all dabbed in some fluorescent chartreuse antibiotic cream.  

“ISN’T HE ADORABLE???” Brett squealed.  We were speechless.  The kitten looked around at all of us staring at him–on top of his otherwise shitty couple of days–and said, “Mew?”  Then he stalked around the room, inspecting his new kingdom.  The cast made him swing his leg out in a big circle like a peg-legged pirate.  With each step, it made a “bonk” sound on the hardwood floor.  

Daddy said, “A lady from the Humane Society found him lying in the middle of the road and when she saw he was still alive, she brought him in for me to put him to sleep.  I told her I would, but after she left I reached down to pat him and he started purring.”  That was all the explanation we needed as to why Daddy had spent Christmas Eve gluing this orange kitten back together.  Because my Daddy has a special place in his heart for “yella cats.”  

Did you ever get a kitten for Christmas?  A peg-legged, shaved-ass, pirate kitten with sideburns?

19 thoughts on “A Yella Cat for Christmas

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      Oh, he grew up to be a hellraiser of a yellow tom cat named “Little Red.” He ended up growing a strangely long tail, probably from the early accident! He’s still remembered fondly in our History of Cats.

  1. Cindy

    Even though I’ve never met your dad, I love him. Bless him for rescuing all those cats all those years. Thank you for a wonderful story to start my day.

  2. Chris Antenen

    Being the ‘mother’ of many handicapped animals through the years, at least one of them headed for euthanasia, I understand your dad totally. My group includes my recent acquisition of a campus cat, but my braggadocian attitude is just that. What really happens is that I look into their eyes. The next words that come unbidden from my mouth are “I’ll take that one.” Soon it’s just a habit. It’s no doubt why your dad chose veterinary medicine. I avoid pet shops and the tigers at the zoo.

    I also wanted to know what happened to Little Red and I’m glad he ‘overcame.’

    Loved this post, Ashley.

  3. Susan Fliegel

    I would have liked your Dad, I still think fondly of the vet who didn’t charge me a dime when I brought him a kitten I found at the end of our block, that someone had apparently thrown out of a car. The poor little thing had to be put to sleep, as its back was broken, and the vet just handed me a box of Kleenex and let me cry. A vet who cares is a blessing on this earth. On the other side of the coin Is the vet who looked at an orange tabby kitten I had brought home, told me the tom had feline leukemia and should be put to sleep immediately, as he wouldn’t live more than a few months. Tigger went back home with me and lived a happy indoor life for 13 more years, with a few spells once or twice a year of flu-like shakes and fever for a day or two. I’d snuggle him until the spell went away, he’d sleep all the next day, then be fine again for months. If I had listened to that vet, I would have missed 13 years of love and companionship.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      Oh, good for Tigger! Daddy called me one time and asked me to take in a dachshund that someone had abandoned at the clinic. He assured me that she had about six weeks to live with her advanced heart problems. That dang dog pooted along for 3 more years!

  4. Stephanie

    My brother and I got a cat for Christmas the year I turned 10. I was such an animal-lover then, I actually day-dreamed about it being deformed in some way and how I would still love it so. In actuality, we got the most beautiful cat–a Himalayan–and sweet, to boot. We fell in love, and I called her my best friend. When I was 20 and living off Woodrow Street (in Five Points), attending UGA, my dad called. My dad never called. My mom called, and then my dad would talk to me, so I knew something was wrong. My Christmas cat, who we had aptly named “Christie” had fallen from the rafters in the garage and was dead. I cried buckets. I called my boyfriend at work and had to ask his boss to speak to him. She asked him later what was wrong with me, and he told her a family member had died. While that felt to be true to me, I knew he told her that because he was embarrassed I was so emotional over my cat. I knew then we would never last!

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      When Daddy had to put Fartbuster’s ferret to sleep (gosh that sounds weird), Fartbuster was worried that he might cry in front of my dad. I assured him that Daddy would only think something was strange if he DIDN’T cry!

  5. Kristi Wimmer

    What a heart for kitties!! I love them too! I remember when we were little girls and neighbors, we had a yella cat! I was too young to remember where it came from. Probably your daddy!!!

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Daddy still laughs about this yellow tom cat he brought home in a corn crate. He says “I untied that crate and Slick tore out of the house, went next door and ran the Seays’ cat up a tree, then came back and took a nap.”

  6. Gay Garrett

    Do you remember that when I was trying to find loving homes for the strays we collected I would run an ad in the paper and say they were part persian (that always worked until I told some prospective suspect that if I didn’t find a home for this adorable kitty that my husband would make me put them to sleep). The woman screamed with laughter and said…I know your husband and THAT WON’t work on me!

  7. Pingback: Give What’s Left of Me Away | Baddest Mother Ever

Want to Leave a Comment? Please Do!