He was found in a graveyard in Warren, Ohio. He was malnourished, and his eyes were crusted shut. He had a rotten tooth hanging in front of his mouth and a rib protruding from his side. And he was the cutest cat Brenda Kiraly had ever seen.
“He was a big, gray cotton ball,” Kiraly says. “He was so miserable, and he needed to be loved.”
His name is Flint, but he goes by many more. “I started calling him Bub, and it all evolved from there … He was doing something he shouldn’t have been doing, and I said, ‘Hey, Bub!'” Flint also answers to Bubby, Bubbette, Bubbley, Bubbley-Wubbley and Bubblicious, among others.
Kiraly still remembers the day she first laid eyes on Flint. “I was absolutely floored when my husband brought him home,” she says. It took her nearly 20 minutes to clean the area around his eyes with cotton swabs so that he could open them. When he finally did, he stared into the face of his new best friend.
Kiraly’s other cats didn’t share her instant connection. “No likey new kitty,” Kiraly says, remembering the cats’ reactions. “But he didn’t really have a whole lot of interaction because he was so sickly. He stayed within the confines of the carrier.” Kiraly kept Flint separated from the other cats because there was the possibility that Flint was carrying the contagious Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV).
At 8 weeks, he weighed only 2 pounds. “He was about big enough to fit in the palm of my hand,” Kiraly says. Flint tested negative for FeLV, and an operation wasn’t necessary for his rib, which, though displaced, wasn’t a danger to his organs.
Flint’s favorite time of day is treat time. “That would be ‘whenever-he’s-cute time,’ which is all the time,” Kiraly says with a bright smile. “There’s nothing that he does that I don’t think is cute. Period. Even when he’s bad, he’s cute.”
Being cute isn’t Flint’s only good quality. When Kiraly’s sister passed away from cancer, Flint was there to comfort her, climbing onto her lap as she cried. “He patted my face as if to say, ‘Mommy, it’s OK!'”
He’s still comforting her. A little more than a year ago, Kiraly and her husband separated, and she was forced to choose which cats to take with her.
“He’s one of the only things that’s kept me sane through this whole ordeal,” she says of the one cat she knew she had to take. “He’s a big momma’s boy.” She also took Flint’s best buddy, Mila.
Flint is adjusting well to his new surroundings. He now weighs a very healthy 12 pounds — a far cry from the malnourished kitten he was four years ago.
“He loves to play hide-and-seek in the bathtub,” Kiraly laughs. Flint also can be seen tossing around catnip-filled mice and is never too far from the treat jar. When he’s not sleeping under the bed or playing with Mila, he’s spending time with his favorite person on the planet.
“He’s my sweetheart,” Kiraly says.