It was a warm July day when my daughter and I saw a cloud of black smoke near our local hardware store. We quickly drove over to watch news being made as the store was overtaken by fire. 

Crispy on the couchNo sooner did we arrive then a puff of smoke came running out of the building into the hands of a paramedic. Realizing it was a kitten I followed them to the ambulance where it was dunked into a bucket of saline. “If it doesn’t belong to anyone, I will take it.” Relieved, the paramedic handed me a black, wet, glob of burned mess. The only thing recognizable was a pair of eyes pleading for relief. It could not even mew.

We dashed to the nearest vet, praying the kitten would live until we arrived. “Please hold on, we pleaded.” The black eyes stared at me without a sound. The vet took one look and said, “This cat is so badly burned his lungs are probably seared and his skin will turn to leather and fall off. You need to put him to sleep.”

“What? You haven’t even tried to save him. I’m a cancer survivor who has proven you can beat the odds. I can’t just put him to sleep. This cat may die, but it won’t be for lack of trying. Thank you for your time.” 

We dashed to another vet who gave the same line. On to a third, who said what we wanted to hear, “I think this kitten may have a chance." We then broke the news that we could not afford much in the way of treatment, especially for a stray. Fortunately, by then, she was attached to the little thing and agreed to free treatment if we would pay for the medications. “If he is still alive tomorrow and his lungs have not filled with fluid, we will give it a go.”

“That’s a deal! His name? Hmm … I think we’ll call him Crispy Critter.” Crispy on day 2

Thus began a 24-hour ordeal of treatments and sleeping with him on the couch – cuddling, petting, nurturing, and treating his severe burns. He made it through the first 24 hours and over the next several days much of his skin died.  Pieces began to fall off – first the tops of his ears, then a toe, then half his tail, then another portion of his foot. It was gruesome and we began to wonder if we had made a mistake; but, as we sat cuddling him looking into those black eyes, we knew we had to keep trying. Soon we were rewarded with some quiet meows.

Over the next four months, while we continued to peel away dead skin and treat the burns, smoke inhalation left him with an asthma-like wheeze and an intestinal tract that had little peristaltic movement – meaning he could not move his bowels. Discouraged, we finally had to admit that giving enemas to a cat everyday was not something we could continue. So with a heavy heart, we took him to the vets ready to give up.

As we walked in, a relief vet happened to be passing through town. When he saw the scraggly-looking Crispy, he exclaimed, “What happened to that cat?” After telling him the story, he said, “I read of a new surgery that might solve the intestinal problem. I was hoping to have an opportunity to try it and will do it for free; but you need to know he may not survive”. What did we have to lose?  With tears running down our checks, we kissed and cuddled Crispy, as we said our good-byes.

The next day we got the call from the vet – “Crispy is alive. He is ready to go home. What a courageous cat he is. Only time will tell if he has turned the corner.” With both elation and tears, we rushed to the vets to bring him home.

Crispy todayThat was three years ago. Today, Crispy, the Courageous Kitten, struts around on his toe-less feet with his half tail held high. His face is scarred, he has only half of his ears and he OWNS the house. He rules over three big dogs, three other cats, and one bird.

Not a day goes by that I don’t look at him as he perches on top of the birdcage and am reminded that no matter how difficult the challenge appears we should not give up without a fight. Too often we listen to our critics and lose hope prematurely. I have a sign on my office wall that says, “Hang onto your dreams, even when the world tells you they are impossible.” Do something, no matter how small, every day that moves you toward that dream. Remember, when we dedicate our mind, body, and spirit to a goal, miracles really do occur.


Lynne is a motivational speaker, living in Olympia, WA, and is the author of the motivational book, “I’ll Be Here Tomorrow – Transforming Tragedy into Triumph”. This is a book about survival and resiliency, which she learns through her two terminal illnesses, and the journey of helping her German Shepherd survive breast cancer. Most readers comment that the book is more about dropping our facades and living the life we want before it is too late, than it is about cancer. To learn more about the book, visit Lynne’s website at where you may order the book.

In the Middle of a World...

"In the middle of a world that has always been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence."

Roseanne Anderson

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