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A pained whimper snapped Simon’s attention away from the hiding cubs and back to the adult. Now he took more notice he saw the adult held one paw off the floor.
He moved closer slowly and started to hum a tune his mother had used on their farm to calm the animals when they were nervous.
The cat watched his every move but didn’t seem like it was going to pounce and rip him apart. Simon reached out for the affected paw, still humming.
“Let me look. Come on sweet thing. I may be able to help.” Simon kept his tone low and almost singsong. He knew the cat couldn’t understand him, however, his mother had always said the tone of voice was what animals responded to.
The cat cocked its head to one side and seemed to be scrutinizing him. It must have reached a decision because it didn’t move as Simon finally touched the paw in question. He turned the paw to look at the pad and saw something shiny catch the light. “Is that what I think it is?” Simon muttered to himself. “How am I supposed to get a hold of something that tiny?” He cast around the cave he called home and finally his gaze caught his work tools.
“Stay still, there’s a good kitty.” He pulled a small cushion nearer and placed it under the hurt paw before moving to his workspace. He sorted through the tools until he found something he thought would work. He held up a pair of tweezers he’d trades for a few days earlier. He’d needed to get some splinters out of his skin after he’d tried his hand at wood carving.
He moved back to the cat and picked up the paw again. “This may sting but you need to keep still,” he told the animal. He felt stupid talking to it as though it was human, but he couldn’t just ignore it.
“I’m going to try and get hold of the end of what is in your paw. If you move too much it may go deeper and then it will hurt more to get it out.”
The cat chuffed and turned its big head toward the cubs still hiding behind its back. The movement gave Simon a clear view of its belly. Well, that answered one question. The cat was definitely a big boy, in more ways than the size of his…yes, well… Simon turned his attention back to the foreign object.
As soon as he made contact with the tweezers the cat stiffened. “Calm down, there’s a good boy.” At those words, the cat swung its head around and hissed at him. Simon held his ground and fought the insane urge to chuckle. If he didn’t know better he’d swear the cat had understood him and didn’t like being told to be a good boy. But that was ridiculous. Cats couldn’t understand humans.
“I thought I told you not to move. Hold still or this will hurt more,” Simon admonished, and the cat froze, unblinking.
He worked as quickly, but as gently, as he could. It took a few attempts to get the tweezers to grip the shiny object.
After what felt like hours—but was probably only minutes—Simon held up the offending item in triumph.
“Got it,” he crowed. “How’d you get a sewing needle in your paw?” He turned to get a cloth and some water to make sure the wound was clean and would get infected.
“Are you someone’s runaway pet?” He continued to ramble as he filled a bowl from a stream at the back of the cave. “You’re certainly a beautiful kitty.”
A deep voice echoed through the cave and made Simon drop the bowl he held. “I am no ones’ pet! Runaway or otherwise.”
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