The world is large.
The world is broken.
The world is softly draped in Cotton.
We have, in fact, found the fabric that just might fix our fragmentation.
By “fabric,” I mean “very small, very poofy, very peachy puff of a Persian.” I mean Cotton. No words I could gurgle out here could possibly capture this creature and his powers for good.
Cotton was born good, good beyond all measure, in a land across the sea. But things happened, as things do, and Cotton’s life in Lebanon went from soft to sorrowful in one fell swoop.
I’ve never been clear on what, exactly, a “fell swoop” is, but that’s fitting, because we don’t know what exactly swooped down or up or sideways at Cotton. All we know is that he was born good; he was born loved; something utterly awful happened to his back feet; and he’s been on a mission to save the world ever since.
Let me explain.
Sometime between Cotton’s birth and his toddlerhood, something stole his feet. I am not speaking metaphorically. Cotton is devoid of back feet, and no one knows why. It appears to have been a traumatic event — feet don’t just walk off, after all. The same inexplicable event left Cotton unable to walk or to express his own bladder and bowels.
But make no mistake: Cotton, that fine-fabric force of good, has been expressing himself all along.
Losing your feet and your footing might fray a lesser creature’s fabric, but not Cotton. As cherished and good as the day he landed, Cotton found himself a flock of angels, Lebanese rescuers who nurtured him despite their own indescribable hardships and horrors. (I do mean indescribable. Let that description suffice.)
To have nothing, yet to mine your own soul’s gold for another; to ache beyond imagining, yet to bind the wounds of someone smaller; I am silent in awe before such saints, humbled to my knees by the Love that moves them.
Wrapped in such Love, Cotton was saved from certain tragedy. But his rescue was tenuous; in a land unsafe even for his heroes, a true haven was hard to find.
And so Cotton’s goodness sang across the sea, wrapping us in love all the way from Ringoes, NJ. The softest of all kittens with the hardest of all histories would come to Tabby’s Place.
If you’ve ever taken your cat to the veterinarian, you know that cat transport is no minor matter. The combined powers of FedEx and UPS and the Merchant Marine could scarcely handle the logistics of a yelling, yowling box of hisses.
But Love conquers logistics, every time.
Cotton’s road unfurled from Lebanon to Berlin, an angel in human disguise accompanying him with a smile and serene determination all the way. Not only would our power puff not travel alone; he would ride the friendly skies in what is indisputably the single coolest cat carrier in the history of time. Let us pause for a moment to admire its glory.
Yes, that carrier says TOUCHDOG.
Yes, actually it says “100% TOUCHDOG.”
Yes, this is an accurate description of Cotton.
When the world’s most touchable kitten touched down in New York, saintly Tabby’s Place volunteers were there to meet him. It was an instant family reunion, as New Jerseyans met a German rescuer and a Lebanese kitten of Persian ancestry.
It was a glimpse of the eternal banquet where borders and backgrounds and bum legs are of no concern.
Cotton’s Tabby’s Place life started with a stay Chez Jess, the happy home of one of our most devoted staff foster Moms. This is the same Jess who has fostered platoons of desperately needy cats, the Dougals and the Princess Bubblegums and the Yardleys. When Jess walks down the hall, her wings stick out of her scrub top.
As good and perfect as Cotton is, have no illusions; those early days in America weren’t exactly easy. We didn’t know (indeed, we’re still figuring out) the exact nature of his needs, and he was a messy little marvel, clamoring for ’round-the-clock care. He was also a biter — a lover to be sure, but his puffs and purrs were punctuated by tiny assaults with his tiny teef. (Tiny teef hurt humongously.)
Jess persevered, as Love does, and even treated Cotton to a special presentation of the full Lord of the Rings trilogy. (We will leave it to another time to debate whether Cotton is more Aragorn or Gimli. Also, Frodo could have totally benefited from having a Touchdog in the Fellowship.)
And now — oh glorious day! — Cotton has come to live in the Tabby’s Place Lobby.
There’s a kind of hush that comes over anyone who approaches Cotton’s playpen. Articulate, serious-minded humans disintegrate into sighs and smiles and silent embraces of the Lebanese American Persian Cotton.
Or, more accurately, they reintegrate. In the presence of a persevering, perfectly loved, powerfully puffy creature, human threads come back together. We can almost glimpse the tapestry we were meant to be, all awestruck and interwoven with one another.
And they say we’re the ones doing the rescuing.