As a volunteer at a cat colony I get to see many stories. Some of them have happy endings, unfortunately you occasionally experience the sad ones too. But one in particular stands out in my mind, in those short few weeks we shared Mr Lion taught me more about resilience, appreciation and the unique kind of love only cats can demonstrate.

Mr Lion appeared out of nowhere at the cat colony one day. He was an adult male, very unfriendly, extremely weak and in dire need of a vet. His fur was scruffy, I could literally feel his rib cage and it looked like he had difficulty in breathing. However, despite his evident fragility, it was impossible to catch him. He would put up a fight if you tried to pick him up.

The first couple of days, we would feed him and try not to upset him. The other cats at the colony would hit or hiss at him, but he wouldn’t react to it. Only if you tried to catch him would be respond so strongly. But his condition was not going to simply improve without help, that was apparent. So one day, with the help of another volunteer -and after a lot of scratches- we managed to capture him and I took him to the vet.

The poor thing could barely stand on his feet, and yet he would give me an ugly look and hiss at me all the way to the vet.

The vet called me a few days later with sad news; Mr Lion had cancer all over his lungs, and there was nothing else to do but try and make his last days as comfortable and painless as possible. He suggested I take him back to the colony, since he was eating on his own, to spend his final days in peace.

I was heartbroken. I had a small hope that once we had captured him, that there would be something we could do for him to help him, to save him.

So the next day, I picked him up from the vet. Again, he gave me those angry looks and hissed at me, up until we reached the park. As I was walking to the colony, he stood up in the carrier, as if he realized where he was. So he stood up, and looked around and for the first time in days, seemed a little more relaxed. Once we got to the colony, I opened the carrier door to let him out. He stepped out, turned and looked at me and then he came closer and brushed his head against my legs, as if he was saying ‘thank you’.

The next few days, he would always stand up and weakly walk towards me whenever I went to the colony. He would bump into my legs, sit to be petted and enjoy the pate I got especially for him.

Mr Lion, didn’t get better. He only got worse. It was a Tuesday I remember, and I told my husband I wanted to go to the park to see him. He wasn’t there. The next day another volunteer told me she had seen him on his last leg and rushed him to the vet. Mr Lion was given painkillers, a last cuddle and put in a quiet cage and passed peacefully that night in his sleep.

I have seen many stories… But this guy really got under my skin. I don’t know how he got to the colony, if he was dumped, or abandoned, but I find comfort that at least for the last days of his life, he was taken care of, properly fed, petted and shown how much he mattered.

This is the story of Mr Lion. Because he may have been a cat, but he had the heart and toughness of a lion.

And like him, there are countless of animals out there that could use some love and attention. By going a little bit out of your way, can mean the world to our little furry friends. It can be the difference between life and death. Let’s be more considerate and caring to animals. They have beautiful souls and we have a duty to protect and respect them.

Christina x

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