Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bucky Cat Tribute Tattoo + Bonus Book Giveaway

This post originally appeared on May 24, 2011, and is being republished today with an all-new giveaway to win a copy of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about All the Ages and Stages of Our Feline Family Members."

Catsparella reader Natalie recently shared photos of her gorgeous new cat tattoo with me, along with the story of the incredible kitty behind it. Bucky was less than a year old when he succumbed to FIP, a fatal and incurable disease in cats. Despite his short time on Earth, Bucky made a lifelong impact on Natalie that she'll never forget. Their story, in her own words, is below.


Bucky was a sweet kitten that I got at about five weeks of age when he was dropped off at a local pet shop. He was extremely ill and chunks of dog food had swelled in his esophagus from the back of his throat to his stomach, making it impossible for him to swallow or breathe properly. We extracted most of it endoscopically and he was treated for aspiration pneumonia immediately afterward. I fell in love with him instantly.

He was the sweetest, most lovable kitten in the world. He loved to play fetch with his green soccer ball, gladly wore a sweater/shirt combo to see Santa and sprawled all over my manuscript while I was writing. He was with me when I had a breakdown and when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Even when he was diagnosed with asthma and required a daily inhaler treatment, people always wanted to take him home.

When he was about ten months old he became very ill and was in and out of the hospital for two weeks, before needing the last third of his colon removed due to a blockage that was then biopsied, and his mystery illness was confirmed to be FIP. I don't know how much you know about it, but FIP is always fatal and untreatable. All I could do was keep him comfortable, and as long as he was happy and cheerful, money was no object. Together we fought, medicated and kept each others' spirits up as long as possible until one day he lost his battle in my arms while I played him some soft music.

The tattoo is of him surrounded by harebells, butterfly weed, Carolina jasmine, peonies, geraniums and periwinkles. Each flower has a specific meaning tied to love, loss, grief, and healing. The words, "Skin and Claw" are from a song by Ra Ra Riot, and the full quote is "skin and claw, made to leave you." I thought it was appropriate. Because Bucky was there for me when I wrote my first novel, the tattoo is on my writing arm because he is my muse. The book is even dedicated to him!

Apparently the "Chicken Soup" people were as touched by his story as everyone else because it was chosen to be in their latest collection, "My Cat's Life." Everyone knows how special Bucky was!

"Skin and Claw"

Thank you so much to Natalie for sharing her touching tale of love and loss with us. Her story, along with countless others is included in "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about All the Ages and Stages of Our Feline Family Members," on sale now.

Enter To Win!

Natalie has generously offered to send one lucky Catsparella reader a signed copy of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about All the Ages and Stages of Our Feline Family Members," so that everyone can read about Bucky and other special kitties like him!

To enter, leave a comment on this post with your name and some way for me to contact you (email, link back to your blog or profile, Twitter, etc.). The winner be will chosen in a random drawing next Thursday, June 7th at 5:00PM EST. This giveaway is open to everyone, so our international friends can participate too! One entry per person, please.

(If you have trouble leaving a comment, please email me at

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