Here are two stories of what I have witnessed serving as Bullet’s chauffeur/assistant that exemplify the deep connection and power of the human-animal bond. You will see why he is referred to as “Bullet the Wonder Cat” where we visit.
Early this year we went in to see a young man who had suffered what appeared to be a traumatic brain injury. Knocking on the door, I asked if he would like to see my cat. He was in a wheel chair and his parents were sitting on his bed. The boy tried to answer but could not speak clearly, so he shakily nodded his head. Placing a towel in his lap, I put Bullet on it. I lifted his hand, placed it on Bullet’s back and began telling him about my cat. His hand began moving back and forth just a little as I talked. I told him that Bullet had had a bath with peppermint shampoo the day before, so he might have some loose hairs that needed to be combed out. I asked if he would like to brush him with his special purple rubber brush (a cat Zoom Groom – soft & very easy to grip!). He eagerly nodded his head. I got the brush out and demonstrated, explaining that Bullet liked it when you did long slow strokes down his back & sides. He watched me very seriously, and then followed my instructions perfectly 4 or 5 times before breaking into a huge grin and handing the brush back to me. With tears in their eyes, his parents told me that an occupational therapist had spent 2 hours earlier that day – unsuccessfully – trying to get their son to use his hands!
My second story shows that, if you are open to when people need you, truly wonderful things can happen.
Bullet and I had finished our shift at the hospital that day and I was carrying him down the hallway in his crate to return home. I was almost to the exit when I saw a woman looking so distraught and defeated I felt I just had to say something to her. As I approached, I unlatched the door to Bullet’s crate, opening it so she could see him as I walked up. I asked if she would like to pet him. She eagerly reached in and Bullet leaned his head to meet her hand. With tears in her eyes she told me that her young son, in the room behind us, absolutely loved cats. They had 2 cats at home.
“Well – let’s take him in.” I said. “No” she sighed with tears in her eyes, “he’s been totally unresponsive since we’ve been here.”
Just going on gut instincts, I said “Let’s try anyway – you never know!”
We went into the room which was filled with the boys’ family. I got Bullet out of his crate, placing him next to the boy on a towel. His mother – in voice that was MUCH too loud shouted “Look, a nice lady has brought a cat to see you.” I gently motioned for her to not say anything else and began quietly talking to the boy, telling him all about Bullet. I picked up his hand and began slowly stroking Bullet’s fur with it. After maybe 20 strokes I stopped guiding his hand – but he continued stroking. He was still petting him a few minutes later when he opened his eyes – they were bleary and unfocused – but they were open! The family was VERY excited! When a cousin went up to the little boy he held his arms up for a hug and everyone was laughing and shouting with joy. All the excitement and celebration ensured that our quiet departure went unnoticed.