79: Peach

79: Peach

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

Peach

Cats look beyond appearances — beyond species entirely, it seems — to peer into the heart.

~Barbara L. Diamond

My husband Mike and our five-year-old son Aaron were visiting my family in Alabama for Christmas. Five months pregnant for the first time at the age of thirty-two, I was both thrilled and anxious. When I heard a faint mew through the raindrops thumping the tin roof of the beauty salon where we had taken my grandmother, I flicked my eyes to Mike, who was already staring at me with a barely suppressed smile.

“Did you hear that?” I asked.

Though Mike often wants to appear to the world as a man who tolerates his wife’s obsession, he’s as big a pushover for cats as I am. Out we went into the rain where we called, coaxed and, after a trip to town for some meat bait, captured the scrawny, screaming Maine Coon kitten who immediately relaxed into my arms. The kitten’s mouth was badly damaged and we took it to a local vet who performed surgery that day.

I assured Mike I would find it a home. But as the days passed and time came for us to go back to Arizona, I knew I couldn’t part with the kitten I’d named Peach. Telling me he knew from the moment we paid the vet bill that Peach had found a home with us, Mike and I discussed how to get the kitten home. We returned to the vet for both shots and tranquilizers for the flight.

Our attempts at bringing Peach home on the airlines in a carrier were foiled. Determined to bring her home, and after conferring with Mike, I tranquilized the tiny kitten and stuffed her into a fanny pack. Aaron was in on the secret and took great joy in telling our fellow passengers that his mom had a kitty under her shirt. Noting my bulging belly, they chuckled. It was only as the plane was circling to land at Sky Harbor Airport that she awakened and gave a loud meow, that folks started wondering if the little boy was right after all.

At home, Peach blended beautifully with our other cats, becoming everyone’s baby. As the months passed she perched comfortably on my growing belly at every opportunity. She became my constant companion and I talked, cried, and shared my joys with this young cat, who stared straight into my eyes and seemed to understand everything I was saying and feeling. As we prepared the nursery for our baby’s arrival, Peach tested the comfort of the bouncer, the changing table, the bassinet, the crib, and the car seat. She expressed her approval through purrs.

After an emergency C-section kept me away from home three days, I returned with baby Sam, and Peach leapt into my arms as I walked into the door. She stared into my eyes and blinked her love, then moved to the baby and put a paw atop his belly while making eye contact with me. It was if she was saying “I’ll protect him for you.”

And she did.

When Sam was six weeks old, Peach uncharacteristically awakened me with urgent meows and bats at my face. Half asleep, I followed as she led me to Sam’s crib where he was struggling to breathe. We rushed to the hospital where he was immediately admitted and a chaplain was sent to comfort us. I remained at the hospital with Sam for two weeks as they treated him for severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The doctors agreed that if Sam had not been treated, he would have died. Peach saved our baby.

Several months later, Peach woke me again when an electrical socket had caused a fire and the kitchen had filled with smoke. Mike discovered a faulty socket and some insulation material that had caught fire. If it had continued burning, we could have had a house fire. Peach saved our family.

Eight years later, my sister was released from the hospital to my home months after open-heart surgery. Her lungs had filled with fluid and caused her labored breathing. Rosie told me Peach helped her breathe through the fear. “It’s like she knows I need her,” Rosie said.

When my sister died a year later, Peach curled in my arms as I cried, her green eyes meeting mine. When I suffered migraines she placed her large paws on my head and stayed with me until the pain subsided. As my children grew, Peach was there, watching them with me, comforting, protecting, telling me with insistent meows when something was wrong.

Two years ago I said goodbye to my dear friend of eighteen years. Peach was a precious gift at a time in my life when I needed her most. She saved our son, saved our family, and gave us more comfort, joy, and love than I could ever imagine. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her with all my heart.

~Patti Wade Zint

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