Before we got married, Erin and I lived together in an apartment in southwest Gainesville, not far from Norman Hall. Two rednecks lived in a house on the same property. One day one of them yelled over to us, “We got a cat!” He showed us a impossibly small kitten in a dirty shoebox on his front porch. After about two hours of listening to the cat crying, Erin had enough. She stormed out of the house and confronted our neighbors. “I’m taking this cat!” she yelled. They didn’t move. One of them nodded.

When I saw the cat up close, I was worried she wouldn’t make it through the night. She had a hernia, her gut was bloated from worms, and she was covered with fleas. Her fur was matted with blood and flea poop and who knows what else. And my goodness, was she tiny. After a haircut, bath, flea comb, and dinner, I held her in my lap. Then-kitten Big Kitty (d/b/a “Ricochet”) eyed her from a distance. She curled up in my cupped hands and fell asleep. A day or so later, the vet teared up when we brought the cat, now named Lumper, to her. “I’ve never seen a cat this small with worms this bad,” she said. But she made it. The vet corrected the hernia that gave Lump her name, and she grew up to be a sweet, gentle kitty–not to mention an able mouser.

Sixteen years later, we have said good-bye to our little girl cat. The digestive problems that plagued Lumper from her first day out of the shoebox (hence her nickname) just got too severe. Euthanasia is a very strange thing. We put it on the calendar, like getting the oil changed in the car, or going to dinner with friends. Erin canceled one appointment, and rescheduled. I took Madelyn to school and went to the office. That day, Erin took a few pictures.


Finally, the time came. The girls were great. Madelyn wrote Lumper a sweet good-bye letter that, later, we buried with her. She helped me dig the grave and picked flowers and asked questions I was very hard-pressed to answer. (Man, is that kid smart.) As Erin left to go the vet, Amelia said, “Good bye Miss Poo Poo,” and this morning, “Miss Poo Poo is sleeping.” Yes, she is.

If you know my wife, you might drop her a line and wish her the best and remind her that without her intervention, Lumper would have ended up riding that shoebox to the landfill. Instead, she had a long life with a family who will remember her with great joy.

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9 Responses to Lumper

  1. Thank you for sharing this story! I’m so glad you had 16 wonderful years with Lumper, and that you and your wife rescued her.

  2. Susan Gray says:

    Bradley & Erin,

    Erin, I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I actually came to your house for dinner at the end of Bradley’s first semester teaching here. I have followed your girls on Flickr since they were born.

    I just wanted to say how sorry I am about Lumper. It is a sad fact that we outlive our pets. Many people don’t understand that they aren’t just pets – they are members of the family.


  3. John says:

    Bradley and Erin,

    My condolences on the loss of Lumper. And thank you or the story about Lumper’s origins. A wonderful way to remember a special life.



  4. Susanmarie says:

    I’m so sorry about Lumper–a long-lived cat is a wonderful companion.

  5. sonya says:

    What a sweet (bittersweet) story. The digestive problems really did take a toll on Mrs. Poo Poo. I couldn’t believe she was the same kitty (after 6 mths. of not seeing her). And I know y’all took great care of her. My kids will miss her, too.
    xo to y’all.

  6. Anna says:

    We know too how precious our “fur-children” can be. Our condolences on your loss, but I know you will always remember your long and amazingly blessed life with her.


  7. cbd says:

    Thanks, everyone.

  8. Glenn says:

    Thanks for Lumper’s story Bradley. A wonderful cat I always enjoyed seeing–she had a good life with your family.

  9. Pingback: Odds and ends schoooltime | cbd

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