Love Story

Not what we had figured into our race preparations for Asia and Europe, but Kitty didn’t want to die.

Kitty, day 1

It all started last Monday. Jan and I are out walking in our neighborhood in the chilly, early morning air, our usual daily walk. As we turn the corner, we hear a soft, insistent meow, meow. We see nothing. A mocking-bird, cat? Then I spot what I first think is a pine cone at the end of a driveway. The pinecone runs to us, rubs around our legs and begs to be picked up, to be fed. It is a small light-grey fluff ball of a kitten. We know nothing about cats and kittens, but this one is very young and under all that fur, it is skin and bones, weighing less than two pounds. We abort our walk and head home, Jan carrying kitty. The twenty-minute walk home seems like an eternity, the soft meow, meow, meow and the green eyes looking up at Jan’s brown ones, pleading for food. I’m not a cat person, anyone will attest to that, but she melts my heart.

On the porch we feed kitty milk, and discover a large serious injury on the ankle joint of her right back leg.  The bone is exposed. She doesn’t put it down. Is it broken? How had we missed this? How bad is it? No matter. I head to the store and buy small quantities of kitty litter and food. Kitty cannot stay. We are both allergic and it is only two weeks until we head for Asia and Europe for the two remaining months of the race, but already I know I can’t abandon her.

When I return with food, she is so hungry that I have to nudge her out of the way to even get the food into her dish. Jan makes phone calls. No one in the neighborhood knows anything about a lost kitten so she puts an entry on Facebook, along with a picture. This produces an immediate flurry of responses, one from our granddaughter, a student at UNC. Elle has had cats all her life and presently her own apartment is cat-less. She calls. She wants kitty.  We explain We make an appointment with a vet for 3:00 pm. Elle goes with us. The Vet tells us what we already know. This is an exceptionally people-friendly kitten. She is not a wild stray.But he tells us that the injury to her right leg is so severe, he recommends amputation as soon as kitty has put on some weight. He says, “we can save money by not doing x-rays”. We ask, does Elle still want kitty? Her immediate answer, “Yes”. We leave kitty with the Vet so he can check for worms, cleans out the wound which has maggots, bandage her leg, vaccinate her and check for feline leukemia. We now know more than we ever have about kittens. Elle returns to pick her up and takes her home. We learn kitty has a name. Storm.

Elle and Storm

I spend a wakeful depressed night. By the next day, I realize that I want X-rays and a second opinion.  I call  my daughter, Lilla who is a Vet in southern Virginia only 2 1/2 hours away.  She offers to drive down and take a look.

By the time Lilla comes nearly a week has passed and the leg has improved and the wound is healing. Elle has been vigilant in caring for Storm. She is walking on four legs, even though she limps. The swelling is down, the paw is warm but the x-rays that Lilla sees show that part of the bone is missing and she feels the ankle will probably not have full range of motion and question still remains about the use of the muscle as well. To summarize, there is no reason to rush into amputation if Elle is willing to continue to change the bandage every two or three days. It might not be necessary at all.

  It is interesting to see the changes in Storm. The first day, she wouldn’t move away from us or take her eyes off us for even a second.  Yesterday, she behaved like a kitten, exploring our porch and playing with a lizard that had the bad fortune of finding its way in.

Ok, so I have spent enough on Storm to feed a starving child or provide supplies for a tornado victim, but Storm could not have been clearer in asking for my help. I could not turn her away. So I wasn’t rational, love never is.


About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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11 Responses to Love Story

  1. Jax says:

    God Bless you! Makes me want to cry. and best wishes for Elle and Storm.

  2. Carla says:

    You guys are great! Storm came to the right place. Hope she keeps her leg, even if it is with a little limp. Animals adjust, just like people do.


    • ejhowle23 says:

      How did she know what softies we are? Normally we are not cat people. The question behind the Vet’s rather stark diagnosis was, “Do you want A kitten, or THIS kitten. That was easy. THIS kitten found us and knew how to charm us.

  3. Susan Attermeier says:

    There’s nothing like a helpless kitten! Nobody can resist those eyes! But I always knew you were a softie.

  4. TBC says:

    Ed (since you’re writing this) and Jan, for bringing Storm home,

    What a wonderful story. When, Ed, you talked about the kitty, it was wonderful to hear you describe her plight and your resolve to make sure she had the best assessment and best care possible.

    Hooray for your Lilla, the family vet, and for Elle, the student. And most of all, hooray to you two for rescuing kitty (I noticed lower case) and allowing her to become Storm.

    Take care,

    TBC and Arnie

    • ejhowle23 says:

      I should add that it took our engineer/computer geek son Laurens to find the right software, download it to Lilla’s laptop so that she could read the X-rays. It was like grand rounds. Ed, the rescurer, Lilla the Vet, Chad, (Lilla’s significant partner) as Vet assistant, Laurens’s computer skills, a PT-me and Ellen and Matt the caring “parents”. What a team! and all this before Denny and Mary’s party. No wonder we drank a lot.

  5. David Weinhold says:

    Yep, kittens will do that every time. Our kittens, now cats, were always found on the front porch wanting some food and water. Then they melt your heart and stay on. Our daughters now do the same.
    Looking forward to your posts from the next leg of your journey.
    Did you get some padding for the steering wheel?

    • ejhowle23 says:

      Thanks for your comments. Nope no padding for the steering wheel. I even posted on the VW website but no response. Guess most people don’t think this is a problem. But it sure was on this trip. Thanks for asking. We may still try to improvise something.

  6. rdsieber says:

    Notice how inserting an animal story bumped your response count up? Oops – my evil twin, the marketeer, took over for a second.

    Whatta cute kitten! There, that’s better…

    For padding, I would recommend Harley leather fingerless (riding) gloves. Fingerless allows you to manipulate your digits well, while the padding in the palm is ‘just enough’ to cushion most any vibration, etc. No problems with grip either.


    • ejhowle23 says:

      Great glove idea. We were just discussing this with Margo at Cup a Joe this morning but didn’t come up with this solution. We talked sailing gloves, but they would be too hot. I’ll look into this. Yeah, the animal story did increase the responses. But I think it was the love story lead in that hooked folks to read more. You must be ready to go to Backspace soon. I can’t remember your date, but enjoy the experience.

  7. Laurie Horn says:

    Okay, my heart is melting now, too. Eyes are tear-filled. Ed, I knew you were a softie. So glad Storm found her way to you and Janet. Now you have to keep us updated about Storm as well as your preparations for the next round of the rally. Coming up real soon!!

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