It is a very fine thing that cats don’t worry.
OK, in fairness, there are cats who worry. Like people, cats occupy a continuum of neuroticism.
At one end of the scale, you have Knox (“Why is there 0.07% more riboflavin in my food today? When will the Whig party rise again? Who is really ‘A’ on Pretty Little Liars? I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”).
On the other end of the axis, there’s Baloo (“Huh, I saw the sun falling from the sky and the moon turning to blood. Whatevs. Duuuuuuude…s’alright. Alright, alright, alright.”)
But the average feline neurotometer is tipped far to the Baloo end (and not because Baloo weighs approximately as much as a blue whale). That’s mysteriously, marvelously the case even for cats who’d seem to have cause for concern — like little Orion.
In Greek mythology, Orion was a massive, outrageously strong hunter. In the sky over our heads, Orion is a constellation including not one, but two, supergiant stars.
Inside Tabby’s Place, Orion is a very small, very blind creamsicle-colored cat.
Wrong name? Not a chance.
At first light, this Orion of ours may not seem like much of a hunter. He lives with old (feline) women. He doesn’t speak of the suffering he’s seen. He’ll puddle into pleasure if you give him so much as a glance. His tail and legs are older-than-his-years skinny, and there’s a certain tiredness at the edge of his eyes.
Orion might first strike you as a distant star, misted over by light years and threatened by black holes. He might seem like an aging luminary whose boldest, brightest days are behind him.
But “seem” ain’t “is.” And Orion is still full of fire.
At this point, let’s kick the elephant out of the room. This is not Orion’s first orbit around Tabby’s Place. Back in 2007 — before the world had a President Obama or a Lil Bub or a Mumford & Sons — Orion was a wiry whelp at Tabby’s Place. One year old and one thousand percent feisty, he’d spin through Suite B on his invisible hoverboard, playing so wildly few could keep up. There was really only one cat who could track with ebullient Orion in those days: a long, strong, lovable tabby named Tucker.
On a day full of sun, the wild boys were adopted…together.
This was the very first adoption I witnessed as a Tabby’s Place employee. I’d been here all of four days when the boys were scooped up, and I rejoiced and cried and bid farewell to one of my first favorites. Orion.
I never forgot him. I never thought I’d see him again.
Certainly not the way we saw him last month.
It’s the understatement of the decade to say that Orion’s star was smudged when he and Tucker tumbled back to earth. Skinny and scared, our once-wild warbler was a wisp of his former self. His bony body swarming with fleas, Orion was literally being eaten alive. The fleas had been drinking him in for so long that Orion was severely anemic — and quite possibly in serious trouble. Tucker was a flea feast, too, but as a sturdier cat, he’d fared far better.
We don’t know — can’t imagine — what led to the boys’ being in this condition. It’s not our place to judge or rage or speculate. All we know is that we are very, very, very grateful their adopter brought them back to Tabby’s Place.
Orion was with us only hours before his heart sprang back into the hunt. Even Dr. C and Denise — who have seen everything short of a Bubbles Rosenberg presidency — were amazed by the speed with which Orion regenerated his red blood cells.
His retinas may have been detached, his sight only spiritual now, but the message in Orion’s eyes was clear: I have only just begun to hunt for wholeness.
Gentled by the years, Orion is still relentlessly loving. Tiptoe into Adoption Room #3, and he’ll hurtle towards you, burbling and bobbling along, those big orangey eyes trained on you with sight beyond sight. Pet him and he’ll roll, feet in the air, purr shaking the stratosphere. The fire, the star, still burns bright.
We put Orion with the long-lived ladies of Adoption Room #3 because we know they’ll be kind to him, and vice versa. He’ll be an in-home aide of sorts, keeping a third eye on the old girls as they doze and dream around him. They’ll let him bloom and blaze and be what he was born to be.
Orion isn’t worried — not our supergiant star. And we’re not worried about Orion.
Just very, very grateful he’s back in our orbit.
*If you click on Orion’s name or photos, you’ll see a photo of him c. 2007, in his younger, plumper days.