My Cat Oreo

by Sarah
(Saint Petersburg, Florida, U.S.)

A week before my twelth birthday (I am 13 now,) my parents and I went for a walk to the park near our house. Once there, we were preparing to go over to the playground when I heard mewling behind me. I turned around to see a tiny kitten, cowering on the sidewalk with his ribs sticking out.
This was Oreo.
I hurried over, but he scrambled away, and I was worried he would run. I wanted to help him; I had always loved animals and judging by the state of him he was obviously in trouble. So, I did the only thing I could: I sat down on the sidewalk and spoke soothingly, gentle and steady and quiet. Slowly, the little kitten started padding toward me, and I got my first good look at him. He was tiny, I guessed by his size maybe four or five months old. He had the most pathetic meow, a heart-wrenching sound not unlike a crying baby. He was black and white, a tuxedo cat, with a strip of white going from his chest to the very left corner of his mouth, with white paws and tummy and black everywhere else, and the most absolutely gorgeous, giant green eyes. I finally picked him up and carried him the two blocks all the way home, speaking soothingly the entire time, to keep him calm. He almost scrambled over my shoulder when we walked across the street, and I had to hold him tight.
When we finally got him home, we set him on the porch and much to my dismay my parents said we couldn't bring him inside. So he spent his first day with us out on the porch, being glared at through the window by our old golden tabby, Leon. Next, we moved him to my brother's room (as he was off at college and his room had no windows and only one door and was only used for storage; perfect for a scared little kitten who had to be separated from others. My parents said we might not keep him, so I spent as much time as I could in there with him, making sure he was well fed and watered. He was still really, really scrawny, and he ate like a pig. I had to stop him eating all his food at once so he didn't throw up. We got him some toys we still had from when Leon was a kitten and I played with him, and slowly we introduced him to the house and Leon to him.
He went to the vet's three days before my birthday, and got a clean bill of health other than his general scrawniness and the fact that he wasn't neutered, though we set a date for that in two months. To my surprise, he turned out to be 8 months old; twice as old as I had thought! He was very small for his age, the vet said, probably because he had not been eating enough.
According to the vet, he had probably been at the park for a while, judging by his condition, eating the scraps from the fishermen (bayside park; that's what you get in Florida. Water. Everywhere.) and shying away from people.
His first day out of my brother's room was my birthday, and he and Leon got along stunningly. Leon, at 15 years old, was older than me and slowing down. His muzzle and paws had turned white, and his formerly bright golden tabby fur was a pale yellow by now. He was slow and arthritic with cataracts in his greenish eyes. His face was covered in scars from when he had fought to protect our yard from the other cats and he had a limp in one of his back legs, caused simply by advanced age. Even so, there was many a time where he would set Oreo straight, knocking him off the counter or off the tables where he didn't belong and keeping him from getting out into the yard. But even more precious were the moments when Leon would hold Oreo down when his fur was dirty and groom him, when Oreo would guide the mostly-blind Leon to his food bowl, when Oreo would nuzzle treats to the old cat, when Leon would play with Oreo even though he was old and achy. If cats can't feel love and affection, I don't know what can. Certainly not people. We can't feel anything as pure as this.
2 months later, Leon was missing, presumed dead.
It had happened before; Leon would leave the house to wander about in the neighborhood and not return for a day or two. But this time was different. I could feel it. Oreo could feel it, too; he was unusually subdued that weekend, sleeping a lot of the time and hiding from everybody. As the day turned into weeks, my parents started to get worried too.
He never came back.
We assume that he found some quiet place, a hollow log or a fox or badger den or something, and curled up and fell asleep. He was old, he couldn't have gone far, and that month a beauty berry plant grew in our yard. I made a grave for him under it.
Oreo has been quieter ever since, and I am convinced that he needs a friend, another cat to be with. My parents don't like the idea.

He is still small, very small, in fact, maybe +2 or 3 inches since we found him. He spends most of the day sleeping, and doesn't play as much as he used to, but he's almost an adult now so it's not odd. He has a case of belly worms that won't go away, (butt worms. Eww.) even though he takes the medicine monthly. Any suggestions to get rid of them?

Sorry I can't upload any pictures, but my computer is garbage and our camera is missing.

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