Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was. Ugly
was the resident tomcat. Ugly loved three things in this world:
fighting, eating garbage, and, shall we say, love. The combination
of these things combined with a life spent outside had their effect on
Ugly. To start with, he had only one eye and where the other should have
been was a gaping hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side,
his left foot appeared to have been badly broken at one time, and had
healed at an unnatural angle, making him look like he was always
turning the corner. His tail has long been lost, leaving only the
smallest stub, which he would constantly jerk and twitch. Ugly would
have been a dark gray tabby, striped type, except for the sores covering
his head, neck, even his shoulders with thick, yellowing scabs. Every
time someone saw Ugly there was the same reaction.
"That's one UGLY cat!!"
All the children were warned not to touch him, the adults threw
rocks at him, hosed him down, squirted him when he tried to come in
their homes, or shut his paws in the door when he would not leave. Ugly
always had the same reaction. If you turned the hose on him, he would
stand there, getting soaked until you gave up and quit. If you threw
things at him, he would curl his lanky body around feet in forgiveness.
Whenever he spied children, he would come running, meowing frantically
and bump his head against their hands, begging for their love. If you
ever picked him up he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt,
earrings, whatever he could find.
One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbor's huskies. They did
not respond kindly, and Ugly was badly mauled. From my apartment I could
hear his screams, and I tried to rush to his aid. By the time I got to
where he was laying, it was apparent Ugly's sad life was almost at an end.
Ugly lay in a wet circle, his back legs and lower back twisted
grossly out of shape, a gaping tear in the white strip of fur that ran
down his front. As I picked him up and tried to carry him home, I
could hear him wheezing and gasping, and could feel him struggling. It
must be hurting him terribly, I thought.
Then I felt a familiar tugging, sucking sensation on my ear. Ugly,
in so much pain, suffering and obviously dying, was trying to suckle my
ear. I pulled him closer to me, and he bumped the palm of my hand with
his head, then he turned his one golden eye towards me, and I could hear
the distinct sound of purring. Even in the greatest pain, that ugly
battled scarred cat was asking only for a little affection, perhaps some
compassion. At that moment I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving
creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite or scratch me,
or even try to get away from me, or struggle in any way. Ugly just
looked up at me completely trusting in me to relieve his pain.
Ugly died in my arms before I could get inside, but I sat and held
him for long time afterwards, thinking about how one scarred, deformed
little stray could so alter my opinion about what it means to have true
pureness of spirit, to love so totally and truly. Ugly taught me more
about giving and compassion than a thousand books, lectures, or talk
show specials ever could, and for that I will always be thankful.
He had been scarred on the outside, but I was scarred on the
inside, and it was time for me to move on and learn to love truly and
deeply. To give my ALL to those I cared for. Many people want to be richer,
more successful, well liked, beautiful but for me,
I will ALWAYS try to be Ugly.