84: A Face Only a Mother Could Love

84: A Face Only a Mother Could Love

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

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

~Confucius

If you looked up the word “ugly” in the dictionary, I’m quite sure you’d find BT’s picture beside it. BT’s mother was a feral gypsy cat who waltzed in one rainy night, pregnant belly and all, and stayed around long enough to make sure her babies would be taken care of. When they were barely able to eat softened kitten chow, she disappeared into the shadows and was never seen or heard from again.

BT, the least attractive kitten in the litter, sought my favor early by being the most boisterous of the four kittens. With a meow that thundered above all the others, he had no idea what he looked like. He had fuzzy legs and a fuzzy tail, but the rest of him was smooth except for a tuft of long fur right between his eyes. He had a strange overbite and one front tooth stuck out at an angle.

Needless to say, finding good homes for his siblings was easy, but no one wanted BT, and he preferred it that way. He wanted to stay with me so he could chase tadpoles and bullfrogs around the old farm pond. I gave in and let him have his way. He captured my heart with “a face only a mother could love,” and even that was questionable given the fact that she didn’t hang around very long!

BT wasn’t much on being petted. He was a loner who preferred staying outside, spending his days whiling away the hours on a hilltop under the shade trees near the pond. About the only time we saw each other was at feeding time, when he politely climbed the steps to the back deck, ate his food in silence, and then disappeared into the night.

Sometimes he would allow me the luxury of patting his head, but most of the time he preferred being left alone. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of him chasing the moths that flew around the outside perimeter lights surrounding the front of my house.

As he grew older and wiser, BT figured out that living on my farm wasn’t such a bad thing. He had a hearty helping of cat chow daily, as well as all the water, sun, and shade he could hope for.

In the winter he holed up in the hayloft, snuggling deep into the hay bales to keep warm. On a couple of occasions, when the temperatures dipped below zero, I tried coaxing him inside so he could snuggle up in front of the fire, but he must have had a fear of being a lap cat because he wanted no part of it.

Twelve summers have come and gone since BT came into my life. For the entire span of his life, he never left the property. Never neutered, he preferred for the girls to find him instead of romancing them from afar. Perhaps he knew he was ugly and had a hang-up about it — I don’t know. But I do know he was always around at feed time. Never once did he miss a meal.

BT died three years ago from unknown complications. He simply laid his weary bones down beside a tree and slipped quietly into eternity. I know that’s not anything for the world to be bothered over, but it upset me to know I would never again have the privilege of seeing him and patting his scraggly head. Without a doubt, he was the most loyal and trusting companion I’ve ever had. I buried him on his favorite hilltop overlooking the pond. For a headstone, I used a big flat rock and carved his name into it.

Spring of the following year rolled around and the fields around the farm were green with new life. As I passed by BT’s grave, I noticed something strange. Growing right beside his headstone was one lone, ugly thistle.

Nothing had ever grown on that hillside before because it caught the rain runoff from the pasture and the topsoil was long gone. BT was sending me a message, I was sure. I knew that when the thistle bloomed it would proudly carry a beautiful lavender flower atop its lanky four-foot tall frame, letting the world know that even a weed is beautiful.

~Carol Huff

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