Ninja Bob — The Story of One Lucky Cat
By Lorrie Kalmbach-Ehlers
This is the “tail” of a nondescript male brown tabby with a partial tail and 3-1/2 legs, who found himself in the animal shelter waiting for an adoptive family. The prospect for his adoption, in a shelter that faces the unfortunate reality of too few homes for over 1,200 healthy cats each year, was fairly grim. But this tabby cat had luck on his side — he was turned into the shelter during the “non-kitten season” which bought him a little extra time. During this time the staff at Coalition: HUMAnE decided to add an “old, unwanted, maimed… basically less adoptable cat” to its family. We wanted to provide a home to an animal who likely would be overlooked and that is when we heard of the brown tabby with deformed tail and leg with a great big personality.
The cat and kennel staff at The Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County had an eye out for a feline that had the right personality to tolerate our busy clinic atmosphere, yet needed some extra T.L.C., and notified Serena, our Clinic Coordinator, as his time ran out. Serena and I ran down one afternoon to “interview” our potential new kitty and it literally was love at first sight — one of those moments where you just know that your fate was connected to that animal long ago. And so Mr. Brown Tabby With No Name came for a trial period at the clinic. Would he tolerate the noise? The activity level? The nights alone? Not climb over the counter? Like dogs? Nothing seemed to phase him! And he was a quick learner — no counter? No problem! Stay out of the dog kennels? Okay. (Though we quickly discerned he may think he is a dog with his preference for canine companions.)
So, I filled out the application to adopt our cat, paid the adoption fee and the naming process began. I decided the fairest approach was a vote. The list was long; Stimpy, Speedy, and every play of words on his lack of a fourth appendage you can think of. But, our subletter Julie of Play Bow Dog Training had planted a seed all week by calling him Ninja Bob. Ninja because of his cat like reflexes and Bob, well you get the picture. Of course Ninja Bob won by a landslide.
As he became more active in his new life at the clinic, from contact with the floor, Bob’s leg began to develop ulcers where his foot should have been. PIMA donated x-rays of his leg, and Regional Animal Services of King County loaned us a surgery cautery machine so that our amazing surgical team could amputate the partial leg. Now Bob was a true tripod, and a much happier cat.
At the same time Julie was planting his name in our heads, after surgery recovery, she had also begun to work on his training. No jumping over the counter for his safety. Come when called. Walk in a harness. Jump up on a pedestal. Sit. Paw. Wow, this cat had some smarts! Not only was he lucky, but he was obviously special too.
The longer I have reflected on this special cat, the more sadness I feel as I understand the reality of his story. So many other cats and dogs sit in our shelters, and lose their lives due to homelessness — they are just as unique and special as Bob. He has come to serve as our daily reminder of why the work we do on a daily basis is so important. Cats and dogs are passed over each day in animal shelters because they are old, have a medical condition, are black, or just plain nondescript to look at. Each would have a chance at adoption if the potential families were not overwhelmed by the number of homeless animals. Not only am I grateful to Ninja Bob for the joy he brings to our lives daily as our companion clinic kitty, but also for the personal story I can share of why each surgery we do makes a difference one life at a time.
P.S. Many of you have had the opportunity to meet Ninja Bob at the clinic or at Whiskers Wine & Dine. Ninja Bob will be making more appearances throughout the year so please keep an eye on our web site for Ninja Bob’s Blog where he will personally report his comings and goings.
Follow the heroic meanderings of our three-legged “King of the Clinic” on his Facebook, Twitter or Blog.
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