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By M. Linda Steffey
During the 1980's, we had a total of six special cat friends who lived with us in our home on the edge of the Chuckatuck Creek. The Chuckatuck empties into the lower James River in Virginia.
At this particular time, we had one seal point Siamese named Simba, whom we bought from a breeder, but our other five cats we had adopted and given a good home to them all and we loved them equally. Our MacGregor cat is the only one alive today from all of those loved friends and I still miss them all.
Simba lived until he was 20 years old. He had to be put to sleep due to kidney failure and at the end he couldn't even walk. Teri had cancer and had to be put to sleep and her sister, Elsa, was attacked by dogs while sitting quietly on our back steps minding her own business. She died at the emergency vet.
We adopted two kittens from our local shelter and named them Scamp and Katrina. Scamp was a rascal and looked like he wore a tux. He was jet black with huge gold eyes and a white tummy, white feet, and a bit of white on his chest.
He went out in the spring one day and brought me back a small baby bunny who didn't even have its eyes open yet. Scamp had not hurt the baby bunny at all and I was amazed by his gentleness because Scamp was a hunter and often ate mice he caught on our three and one half acres.
I took the baby bunny and fed it a formula of milk just for bunnies. I named him Sweet Bun. He grew and did well with my love and attention and soon he was an adult bunny, an Eastern Cottontail. We had a few who lived on our property and one of them was Sweet Bun's mom.
Sweet Bun lived in a cage in our home for a year. He liked only me to care for him and if we had company come to our home, he would jump around wildly in fright. He liked and trusted me and knew my voice well. Each day I would let him out to hop around our large bathroom away from our cats. I would shut the bathroom door and sit with him while he explored and even though I knew he was safe and well, I knew he belonged in the wild and he should be allowed to return to our property and live like other bunnies. I gave it a lot of thought and knew that was the right thing to do for Sweet Bun. He did not belong to me. He belonged to nature and had a right to live as a free bunny in the wild. He knew his name well, because I called him a special way when I talked to him to feed him.
One day in the spring I took the cage outside, opened the door and sat nearby in the grass and watched. He soon came out and sniffed around outside of his cage. Suddenly, he took off!!! He was running fast around the back yard and quickly disappeared over the hill that led to our marsh land. I was upset to see him go. I knew it was for his best though and told myself I had done the right thing.
I thought about him constantly, wondering if he was okay. I knew I would never have him as a friend again and he would be a wild bunny, he didn't need me for a friend now. Sweet Bun was where he belonged.
I lost track of time, but one day I happened to see the wild bunnies across the yard on our property and wondered if one of them could be Sweet Bun. I walked out into the yard a bit, watching them eating grass and clover. There were about four or five of them close together. I suddenly remembered that whenever I had called Sweet Bun in that special way that he would sit up on his hind legs, so I called out his name as I stood watching those wild bunnies eat...and lo and behold, one of them sat up on his back legs!! I was so happy. Sweet Bun was alive and well. It caused tears to well in my eyes to see him and I knew he was where he belonged. Even though it hurt to set him free and I missed caring for him and having him near, I was now glad that I had the opportunity to have a wild bunny in my life for even that short time so I could learn more about bunnies and appreciate them for the very fact they are smart and lovely, and deserve to be, just as all of God's creatures deserve to live on our beautiful earth. Free! I will never forget him...
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