Mr. Mabel the One Eared Kitty

by Ashley Anctil
(Plattsburgh, NY, United States)

Mr. Mabel enjoying the sunshine

Mr. Mabel enjoying the sunshine

I remember the day a little gray cat showed up unexpectedly on my front porch. Its petite stature and delicate features suggested to me that she was a young female. She had a sweet face, sad yellow eyes, and a pronounced head tilt unlike anything I had seen before. Her left ear was crumpled, which created the appearance that it was missing entirely. I knew I had to help her.

I began calling my new kitty friend “Mabel” after the beautiful but sad Kenny Rogers’ song “San Francisco Mabel Joy.” The name seemed to suit a little gray kitty with sad eyes. I provided her with food, water, and shelter. Now that her basic survival needs were taken care of, I was on to the next problem: veterinary care. Mabel seemed terrified of people and I couldn’t get anywhere near her. She enjoyed watching me from a distance, but was in no way ready to be approached. If I could build her trust, then perhaps I would be able to get her into a crate and bring her in to be spayed and vaccinated.

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic found me teaching from home. Next to my “home-classroom” was a large window, overlooking my front porch. Mabel enjoyed “spying” on me through that window. She liked to know where I was and what I was doing, but she still would not let me approach her. However, by that summer, Mabel had blossomed. Her progress was promising and I believed she would eventually be “adoptable.” Unfortunately, no one was interested in a one eared cat with a tilted head. This actually worked out for the best because I had become attached and the feeling was mutual. Mabel loved following me around. She was very affectionate, almost clingy. This sweet little kitty had stolen my heart.

By this point, Mabel was ready to go to the vet. She still did not like being picked up, which presented a challenge. She did love to eat though, so I was able to lure her into a carrier with food. At her appointment, she received her vaccinations and was treated for a serious ear infection. The veterinarian also made an interesting discovery: Mabel was actually a neutered male! “She” was actually a “he” and was saddled with the name Mabel. Poor guy! On that day, Mabel officially became “Mr. Mabel.” He was a little guy, weighing only 7 pounds. The doctor explained that the damaged ear was caused by a hematoma that had burst, collapsing the ear. His estimated age was two years old. For being so young, he clearly had experienced his share of hardships.

Mr. Mabel and I developed a special bond. He progressed to the point where he loved to be held in my arms. Not the smartest decision for someone with allergies, but how could I resist? He could not get enough affection from his favorite human. When I arrived home from work, he would meet me in the driveway meowing and rubbing against my ankles. If I were pulling weeds, he would be crawling all over me. If I were reading on our porch, he would be perched on my lap. He was the friendliest, most affectionate little guy. Because of the anatomy of his ear, it was prone to infections. We had a regimen where I would squirt otic cleansing solution in his ear canal, in the unsuccessful attempt to stave off infection. Most cats would never tolerate such a thing!

It was apparent that Mr. Mabel had chronic health issues and would need
to frequent the vet office for the rest of his life. Every time I brought him in, he was treated with antibiotics for both ear and upper respiratory infections. After each visit, I was optimistic. However, no matter what he was prescribed, his ear infection never totally subsided. Nor did he ever breathe normally. He had chronic nasal congestion and would snort and wheeze when breathing. By September 2023, he had stopped grooming and had lost a noticeable amount of weight, despite the fact that his appetite for food and water was insatiable. Off to the vet we went again. He was scruffy and skinny, so I decided to jazz him up with a bow tie. The vet he saw at this visit was amazing and he had a friendly personality to which people and felines readily responded. “You’re looking a little rough, buddy,” was his initial reaction upon seeing the patient. He did redeem himself though with a compliment about Mr. Mabel’s spiffy bow tie! The vet treated him for the usual with “heavy-duty” antibiotics and a steroid injection.

Mr. Mabel's health continued to deteriorate. Two months later, he became lethargic, totally out of character for my normally vibrant and active boy. When standing up and walking became a struggle for him, I knew it was time. He was such a special boy and I loved him too much to allow him to suffer. I made a final vet appointment. On his last two days, he got all the cuddles and attention I could give, and all the cat treats he could eat. I thanked him for being my friend by whispering in his “good ear.”

While waiting in the exam room, Mr. Mabel, wearing his bow tie for the occasion, was watching something on the ceiling, something that my husband, Chris and I could not see. Between our two cats, I have been to the vet more times than I care to recall. I have never seen a cat do that. I can’t help but believe there was a spiritual presence of some sort, I like to think it was an angel, in that room with us. When it was time to say goodbye, Chris and I were emotional and the tears flowed. Mr. Mabel, laying on his side, his eyes locked on mine, had a tear in his eye too. Both of us saw it. I believe he was trying to communicate that he understood what was happening and he was ready. After receiving a sedative, Mr. Mabel began to snore in my arms. Let me tell you, his breathing was audible to begin with, but with that sedative, Mr. Mabel was snoring like a human and it was loud! The comic relief was appreciated under the circumstances. After receiving his final injection, the vet listened to his heart. Mr. Mabel was gone. It was all very peaceful. He was placed in a small, cardboard coffin and Chris and I took my boy home. We buried him in our backyard where he loved to bask in the sunshine. Mr. Mabel was only on this earth for five short years.

I wish life had turned out differently for Mr. Mabel the one eared kitty. He was the best cat ever: so sweet, gentle, and loving. He did not deserve the circumstances of his short life. Remarkably, his chronic illnesses never seemed to bother him. I am grateful he found his way to me. He was a blessing disguised as a one eared cat with an endearing head tilt. I am a better person for loving him.

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Mar 11, 2024
We loved Mr. Mable
by: Your neighbor

Thank you Ashley for caring and loving this kitty. He loved roaming our backyard and would often come up on our deck. We miss him.

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