A Tribute to Tuffy




Julie Burnell (from Iowa) writes lovingly of her wonderful Tuffy...

In November 1996, two special babies were sent to me, my Abbot and Tuffy. Two tiny little brothers…Abby is my DSH red tabby boy, and Tuffy was my DLH, red w/white tabby boy.

My boys were rescued from the top of a headstone in a remote cemetery about five miles from the nearest town. It was cold here in Iowa, and these precious babies were stuck to the headstone and could not get off. My significant other at that time, Nickolas, was there to dig a grave and heard these plaintive, faint mews…he went to investigate and found them frozen to the headstone.

After heating the headstone with a blowtorch, he got them safely off the stone. He brought them home to me. My heart went out to these two babies. That night we had a blizzard that I know they would never have survived. I feel that God sent these two precious boys to me. Thus began a saga of love…and eventual loss…

Abby and Tuffy

These two had a very tough beginning, to say the least. I took them to my vet the next day. He gave me a “two for one” price on the initial examination and all vaccinations thereafter. He wasn’t sure if they would make it or not because they were rail thin (Abby a couple pounds and Tuffy less than that), they were infested with flea bites, and terribly dehydrated. But, he underestimated my determination!

They were estimated at an approximate age of 10 weeks and were not completely weaned – they tried to suckle from our miniature Schnauzer; and she didn’t like that at all! I gave them my birth date of August 28. I thought about naming them Abbot and Costello because of their playful antics. I eventually settled on Abbot and Tuffy. I knew Tuffy would have to come to be a very “tuff” little guy…little did I know HOW “tuff”.

At first their little hind legs swelled to three times their normal size. Frostbite had set in; my poor babies walked like they had wooden legs! Abby lost about three to four inches of his tail – to which I was in a panic and took him to our vet, 20 miles away, to remove the dead part; which was hanging by a thread.

Well, by the time my sweet Tuffy lost half his tail, I was an old hand at clipping off the dead “parts”. Then Tuffy’s frostbite in his right back foot got worse. Dr. Tom, our vet, thought he might have to amputate, but we decided to wait and see. He lost the foot up to the pad, and didn’t have to have his leg amputated. From then on he always walked with a limp, or on just three legs.

Painting by C. Kenney


Some memories of my sweet Tuffy:

Tuffy had such a cute way of doing what I called his “happy little bubby walk.” He would toss his head side to side and held high, with his half a fluffy tail swaying like he was the happiest kitty in the world.

I would hug my sweet little boy close to me and he would snuggle his little face next to mine and give me kitty kisses. 

When I was sick and had to do radiation, he would park himself on my lap or next to me wherever I was sitting, or follow me wherever I went.

He was a shy little boy except with me – I was HIS MAMA. Even Abby got “reprimanded” by Tuffy if I paid what he thought was too much attention to Abby! If visitors came over most of them thought I only had one kitty – Tuffy was no where to be found until they left.

When Tuffy wanted something, he would talk up a storm to let me know…and then run to the kitchen if he was hungry or chase me when he wanted to play.

Tuffy had such a sweet spirit, but if there was a bird or another kitty outside the window – look out!...he could be darn fierce, chattering, growling, and hissing! It was always funny because Abby outweighed him by five pounds or more, but Tuffy would be the one to “speak up” first if there was something in HIS YARD outside.

When I came home from work every night he and Abby would be there to greet me with happy “glad you’re home, Mom” meows and “I’m hungry, what’s there to eat?” meows.

Tuffy wanted to be able to jump as high and on top of high things like Abby could, but because of his missing foot (which I called his “little foot”), he couldn’t. Sometimes when he would jump on the counter in the kitchen, when he jumped back down he would land wrong on his little foot and it would hurt him…he would pull his leg up close to his body…but Mama would pick him up and massage it until it didn’t hurt anymore. There were times, though when you would not even know he was missing his foot. He and Abby would go “helling” through the house chasing each other like a couple wild cats. And Tuffy always kept up with his brother; his little foot didn’t deter him from that! 

In 1999 my precious Tuffy was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure (CRF). It was indescribably devastating news. It is a disease that I hate with a passion for what it did to my Tuffy-Tat. We fought a long battle together with special vet kidney foods (which he hated), natural kitty foods with quality protein and no by-products, sub-Q fluids that I administered twice a day, hospital stays, and medications – holistic and prescribed, and natural supplements. Tuffy went from 13-1/2 pounds to less than 5 pounds at the end.

There was a rollercoaster of emotions; celebrating good days and countless tears on bad ones. On July 17, 2004, I made the hardest decision I have ever had to make, and my precious baby boy went to Heaven as I talked to him and comforted him with love and tears, and petted him to help him go on without me – then, when it was done, I sobbed, totally heartbroken and spent a long time in the vet office saying my final goodbye.

Abby-cat had a very hard time without his brother for a long time, and I think he misses him to this day – but, thank God we are blessed with our Maxie. He can never take Tuffy’s place, but a small part of the emptiness is filled. I want to celebrate Tuffy’s life, and try not to dwell so much on his passing. It was, and is, very, very hard.

To my Tuffy:

My sweet “Baby Kitty”, I love you. Since you left, there is a hole in my heart that can never be filled; an emptiness in our home that is still here. I will forever be loving and missing you until I see you again. To feel your soft fur against my cheek and listen to you purr contentedly in my arms; on that day I will know that I am finally Home. When that day comes, it will be a reunion of our unconditional love, tinged with sadness for those left behind to mourn as your Mama does now. I love you. I miss you. You are my Angel Bubby…when you were here, and even now that you’re gone.

 The Love of Tuffy

August 28, 1996 – July 17, 2004

 The love of Tuffy, so soft and warm
Purring and snuggly against my arm
Love and devotion, no aloofness from you
Your shyness and gentleness were sweet gifts, too

 The love of Tuffy, my happy-go-lucky boy
Contentment in a cardboard box – your perfect toy
Sunlight from a favorite place comes gently streaming
Your red and white fur, silky and gleaming

The love of Tuffy, forever in my heart
You are my sweet bubby…though we part
I am comforted to know you are happy Above
And your too-short life was stuffed full of love


Love forever, Mama


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