Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Remarkable Mr. Tibbs

on March 30, 2022
(Photo from Pixabay)

Caitlin finished hosing down the empty dog kennel before turning off the water and removing her grimy work gloves. Her black sneakers felt damp, mud streaked her brand-new jeans, and long strands of corn silk hair had come loose from her ponytail. She was tired and hungry and ready to go home. “I’m finished, Grandma,” she called.

Dr. Rosemary Grant poked her curly gray head out the back door of the animal hospital and smiled. “You’re a good helper, Caitlin. I’ll take you home now.”

As they approached Caitlin’s house, a streak of yellow raced into the street. Her grandma slammed on the brakes, but they both felt the sickening thud.

“Mr. Tibbs!” Caitlin cried, jumping out of the car. She knelt on the asphalt where a yellow mass of fur smeared with blood lay sprawled. The eyes were closed. The chest barely moved.

Caitlin’s grandma knelt to examine the still form. “Get that old blanket from the back of the car,” she instructed without looking up.

Caitlin grabbed the blanket and handed it to her grandmother. “Will he be okay?”

“I don’t know,” she said gravely. “He’s seriously injured. We might have to put him down.”

“No!”

“He’s suffering, Caitlin. Do you want him to suffer?”

“No,” Caitlin sobbed, “but you’re a doctor. You’re supposed to try and save him!”

Very gently, as if wrapping a delicate Christmas ornament in tissue paper, Dr. Grant wrapped the injured cat in the woolen blanket and laid him in Caitlin’s arms. “We’ll take him to the clinic, and I’ll see what I can do. But don’t get your hopes up.”

* * *

Mr. Tibbs lay listlessly in a padded basket, his green eyes glazed over. “Grandma gave him some pain medicine,” Caitlin explained to her parents. She gingerly lifted the wounded yellow cat out of the basket and cradled him in her arms. His left front leg was missing. In its place was a small stump with tiny black stitches. His right front leg was limp, twisted, and useless.

“He’s crippled,” her mother said, wringing her hands. “What are we going to do with him?”

“He’ll never live a normal life again,” her father said. His steel gray eyes appeared grim. “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. If he can’t adjust to his disabilities, we’ll have to put him down.”

* * *

Mr. Tibbs sniffed eagerly at the catnip toy in Caitlin’s hand, his green eyes glowing with expectation when she tossed it several inches in front of him on the tile floor. He eyed the toy warily, his tail flicking back and forth. Then, with one big push of his hind legs, he thrust himself forward onto his chin and chest, knocking into the toy and pushing it away. He rested a moment, breathing heavily, and tried again. Now the toy was encircled by his limp front leg. He opened his jaws and picked it up.

Caitlin scratched his furry yellow head. “Good boy, Mr. Tibbs. You did it.” She took the catnip toy from his mouth and offered him a treat, but he turned his head away and closed his eyes.

* * *

“He’s not improving,” Caitlin complained to her grandmother on the phone. “He just lays there. He won’t even try to get up unless I coax him.”

“Give him time, honey. He’s been through a terrible experience, and now his independence is gone. He has to learn how to survive all over again.”

“But if he doesn’t get better soon, Dad will have him put down.”

“It might be better in the long run,” her grandmother said.

Discouraged, Caitlin hung up the phone. Despite all of her best efforts, Mr. Tibbs was barely able to scoot a few feet across the floor. He refused to eat, and he was still unable to use the litter box. “Thank goodness we have tile floors,” her mother kept harping. “I don’t know what we would do if we had carpeting.”

Maybe Dad is right. Maybe it’s better to put him down.

She searched for him in the kitchen and laundry room. Where is he, she thought. But as she walked through the living-room door, she witnessed a remarkable sight: Mr. Tibbs was sitting up on his back haunches like a dog, his useless foreleg hanging limp and twisted in front of him, biting at the air with his powerful jaws and trying to catch a pesky fly that buzzed around his head. The fly flew away, but Mr. Tibbs remained sitting upright on his haunches. Then, with one great effort, he propelled himself onto the sofa with his strong back legs.

Caitlin flew across the room, scooped up the startled cat, and covered his furry head with kisses. “You are the most remarkable cat in the world!”

Later, when Caitlin climbed the stairs to bed, she was surprised to hear a thumping sound behind her on the stairs. She stopped and turned around. Mr. Tibbs was using his muscular back legs to clumsily propel himself up the stairs. “Come on, boy, you can do it,” she said. Slowly, he pushed himself step-by-step up the stairs until he lay exhausted at her feet.

“Dad, come here,” she called excitedly.

The first time he used the litter box, Caitlin beamed with pride. She offered him some bits of tuna fish which he eagerly ate from her hand.

One Saturday afternoon, Caitlin’s father answered the front door. A young man with sandy hair and freckles stood on the front porch with a small notebook in his hand and a camera slung over his shoulder. “Does Mr. Tibbs live here?” he said. “My name is Josh White, reporter with The Somerville Daily Bugle.”

Caitlin’s father chuckled. “Come in, Mr. White.”

Mr. Tibbs sat on his haunches in the middle of the living-room snapping his jaws at a piece of green yarn that Caitlin was dangling over his head.

“Hold that pose,” Mr. White said, flashing his camera.

The photo appeared the next day on the front page of The Somerville Daily Bugle above the story about a remarkable cat that was rescued from a terrible accident by a skilled veterinarian and saved from a life of helplessness by a dedicated twelve-year-old girl. Caitlin kept the newspaper clipping in her special drawer and read it every night before going to sleep.

Purring loudly, Mr. Tibbs stretched out his long body on the bed and yawned, one tired and contented cat.

* * *

Incredibly, Remarkable Mr. Tibbs is based on a true story. British naturalist Philip Brown owned a cat named Uncle Whiskers that survived a terrible car accident. Just like Mr. Tibbs, his left front leg was amputated and his right front leg was paralyzed. This amazing cat adapted so well to his disabilities, he was able to catch moths, rats, and even rabbits. Mr. Brown was so astounded, he wrote a book entitled Uncle Whiskers which is still avidly read by cat lovers today.

Want to read more stories about disabled pets? Visit http://www.petswithdisabilities.org.

Works Cited

Brown, Philip. Uncle Whiskers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974.

“Pets With Disabilities”. http://www.petswithdisabilities.org. Accessed 9/16/2008.

Dawn Pisturino

October 2008; March 30, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


8 responses to “Remarkable Mr. Tibbs

  1. Jim W. says:

    I luv Mr. Tibbs ❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. utahan15 says:

    jay tibbs
    they call that cat
    not that
    calico pelt
    paws sharp
    he felt
    like drawing
    blood
    mood to play
    cat nip
    his foray
    oh wow~

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It certainly helps to have someone to believe in you, no matter how dire the circumstances may be. Because of Caitlin’s faith (whether she realized that’s what she had or not) she remained optimistic when everyone else saw gloom and doom.

    Beautiful story Dawn. Encouraging too!!! 😺😻😽 Thanks so much for sharing some “hope” today my friend, even through the life of a cat! 🥰😘😍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Where there’s life there’s Hope, and vice-versa! And, the faith of a child is so pure and trusting compared to that of an adult. But, enough of the cliches! Thank you, my friend, for your feedback. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh Dawn, I concur with your iconic wisdom. Sometimes, I think if we continue uplift and implement those ethical, teachable moments, then hopefully it will catch on. You know I’ve always heard that children and animals have an authentic way of tapping into the divine spirit that God gives all of us, whether we choose to ignore it or follow it. As adults, we sometimes miss what’s in front of us that could add more wisdom to our lives than we could ever know. Children, on the other hand seem to see hope in a totally different way than we adults. Out of the mouth of babes huh? 🤔🤗🥰 You are certainly welcome my friend. Have a FANtabulous day!!! 🌞✨😍

        Liked by 1 person

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