BUCKSPORT – It has been a long journey from the bluffs of the Missouri River to the banks of the Penobscot, but Sox the cat looks like she enjoyed the trip.
The frisky special needs kitten was adapting to her new surroundings after arriving from Missouri last week. Her new family introduced her to their other special needs cat, Smudgee, and their one-eyed Newfoundland, Lilly, and the animals already are making friends.
“She’s a welcome addition to the family, very much so,” said Wendy, who asked that her last name not be given for personal and professional reasons. “At night she sleeps in the guest room. She’s doing fine.”
Sox’s journey came about when Wendy read an article in the Bangor Daily News last month telling about the cat’s plight in Missouri. The kitten was injured when a sofa fell on her, partially paralyzing her back legs. The cat was dropped off at Dr. Jim Crago’s veterinary clinic in Jefferson City. The owner never returned to get her.
Then known as Socks, her new family changed the spelling to Sox in tribute to their favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. The kitten was cared for by Crago’s assistant, Bonnie Kearns.
Kearns, whom Wendy described as “Sox’s guardian angel,” brought the kitten home at night. Members of her son’s Boy Scout troop fabricated a wheelchair for Sox to get around in. Wendy said that when she read the story, something tugged at her heart and she called Crago and offered to adopt the kitty.
“She looked a lot like Smudgee, and I just thought I’d give him a call. And my grandmother had died a few weeks earlier, and while she was not much of an animal lover, she liked Smudgee. I guess that was part of it, too,” Wendy said Sunday. “I’ve never done anything like this before. Dr. Crago couldn’t believe the story had gone all the way to Maine.”
Crago accepted her offer, and Wendy’s mother cashed in her frequent flier miles to get her an airline ticket to St. Louis. Wendy rented a car and continued the journey to the state capital. She spent the day at Crago’s clinic cuddling Sox and then drove back to her hotel in St. Louis. She was supposed to catch a shuttle to the airport but when that didn’t work out, the hotel manager hired a private car for the ride. Sox flew in the passenger cabin with Wendy by her side.
From the moment she arrived in Bucksport, Sox began playing with Smudgee and enjoying the attention from Lilly. Smudgee, who is also black and white, is four years older than Sox and has much more severe health problems. She is missing part of her brain’s cerebellum and her rear legs are also paralyzed.
The needs of Sox and Smudgee, and to a degree Lilly, are so special that Nicole Crane of River Road Veterinary in Orrington comes by to give them their meals and medication when Wendy and her husband, Mark, take their vacations.
Although Sox has adapted to her wheelchair, she much prefers pulling herself along under her own power.
“She drags herself along primarily,” Wendy said. “She’s fast, really fast.”