Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Writing lessons learned from a cat named Hughey

Posted by: Angela Campbell

Whew, it has been a rough year (2020), hasn't it? How is everyone holding up?

I know a lot of you have been writing, and others have been reading a lot more. Me? I've been rescuing cats.

For those who don't know me, hi, I'm Angela, a crazy cat lady slash paranormal romantic suspense author. I've been volunteering for the last few years with a small cat rescue organization in South Carolina, and I am now on the board of directors and knee-deep in cat rescue. I was laid off in March 2020 and am still unemployed (need a technical writer, journalist, or marketing person? Call me! Honestly, need anything? Call me. I'm lonely.). To fill my suddenly free time, I started fostering during the pandemic. I have fostered probably 20 to 25 kittens and cats since March. I really should hang a sign out that just declares me the Crazy Cat House. 

Today I thought I'd tell you about Hughey. What does a cat named Hughey have to do with writing or reading? Bear with me. 

My friend and I met Hughey this summer when he suddenly showed up at a cat colony we manage. This means we've trapped, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated feral cats that live outdoors in a group. Cats, contrary to public belief, are social creatures who enjoy each other's company. Hughey was very skittish and limping, and it took us a few days to trap this newcomer. 

When we took him to the vet, fearing he'd been hit by a car, we were told his injury was an old one. "I would say, based on the break and damage, it was caused by a golf club, possibly a baseball bat, or similar object," the vet said. He believed someone had intentionally beat this poor cat. Worse, Hughey's hip had been broken and healed improperly. The vet did not feel surgery would help as it would be too rough a recovery, and expensive. Especially for a feral cat we originally planned to re-release to our colony.

He recommended that I keep Hughey confined so that his leg/hip could further heal since it did have a lot of inflammation. "My guess is he's reinjured it recently and it could use a rest." Six weeks confinement, he said.

So, we had him neutered and vaccinated, and Hughey became another foster. 

Hughey was not happy about this either.

If you've ever worked with feral cats, you understand when I tell you I feared for my life at feeding time. Hughey would lunge and spit at me and take vicious swipes anytime I neared his crate — one sized for a large dog. He got me good a few times, and I bled for days. It was clear he wasn't adoptable.

I began searching for a feral cat sanctuary for Hughey. Everyone was full. No takers. We started advertising for a farm where Hughey could live as a barn cat. Not ideal, but it was a better solution than returning him to the streets with a bum leg. Again, no replies. 

I feared I would be stuck with Hughey and moved his crate into my bonus room/office when the weather turned cold and he could no longer stay in my garage. A few weeks or so passed and I noticed something. 

Hughey watched me with blatant curiosity while I worked on freelance jobs and writing. He also stopped trying to kill me when I approached his cage. Let me pet him if I did it slowly. I was still afraid of letting him out because he still took swipes at me every now and then, and I can be a wimp when it comes to pain.

One night, not too long ago, I felt bad for poor Hughey and decided to test him. It had definitely been more than 6 weeks, and the poor cat has been confined for months. I could empathize since I have barely left my house all year. Maybe he needed to stretch. So, I opened his crate and went back to my desk.

Hughey watched me for a few minutes and then slowly crept out of his crate. 

To my surprise, he came over to me immediately, and while still a little skittish, he let me pet him.

In only days, Hughey turned into a lap cat, jumping into my lap and demanding pets while I worked. I introduced him to some of my other fosters, and he has made quick friends with two of them. I call them the three amigos. They do everything together now. 

Point is, Hughey had a rough start in life, got lost for a while, and didn't trust anyone, but he got a second chance and realized it. While it might have been scary for a while, he let himself trust again, and now, he is almost ready for adoption. My hope is that Hughey will find a home with someone who will love on him and give him the attention he deserves. 

Hughey will always have a slight limp. It will always be a reminder that he overcame something awful in his life, but you know what? It doesn't seem to bother him one bit when he runs and plays with his kitty friends.

In a way, I was like Hughey. Ready to give up and hate the world and everyone in it after 2020. I considered turning my back on writing, the one thing I've always wanted to do. But you know what? I think I'll give it a shot again and make it my resolution to write more of the content I want to write, and read, and not just what people pay me to write. 

So if you're like me and you've been struggling with your writing, don't be so hard on yourself. Most of all, don't give up.

Hughey didn't. Neither should we.

Angela Campbell is the author of the psychic detective series, a paranormal romantic suspense series featuring ghosts, sexy psychics, haunted houses, serial killers ... and cats and dogs. Learn more about her books at www.angelacampbellonline.com. She also tweets way more than she should about her foster cats. Follow her on Twitter at @angelacampbel.

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