Chicken Broth Love

When my younger son went off to college, our cat promptly got sick with high fever. This was a cat who had spent a lot of her young life in my son’s lap. She did homework with him, watched TV with him, practiced viola with him. When he went away to college, a big part of her life went away too. I was sure she was sick with grief, but the vet diagnosed feline leukemia and recommended that I leave her at the clinic to die. I took her home.

She was so weak she couldn’t walk or hold her head up, so I put her in a rolling chair, where she lay barely breathing. Feeling totally helpless, I thought that if she were a human, she would at least be getting liquid in an IV. Then I had an aha! moment that sent me to the freezer where I kept homemade chicken broth that I’d frozen in ice cube trays. I nuked a cube of broth, smashed up a vitamin C tablet in it, and poured it in a Clairol applicator bottle.

Like a demented Florence Nightingale, I squirted chicken broth with vitamin C down the cat’s throat. Not much went down, but some. I continued that for several days, rushing home from my office every couple of hours between clients, and hourly in the evening. At first she fought me, choking and gagging at the broth, then she seemed to understand that it was to help, and began swallowing like a nursing baby.

One evening after I squirted broth down her gullet, she sat up for the first time in a week. She shook herself, hopped down from the chair and went to the litter box. Then, as if she hadn’t just been at death’s door, she went to the kitchen looking for her water bowl. She ate some food, drank some water, and followed me to the den and jumped into my lap. That was sort of a first, too. She had tolerated me before because I gave her food, but her heart had belonged to my son. I knew she would still have preferred my son’s love, but she seemed to decide that my love was better than none.

I took her back to the vet, who was amazed that she no longer had symptoms of feline leukemia. He scoffed at my diagnosis of grief, and said most likely the leukemia had just gone into remission and would return. She lived to be 19 years old, and never had another sign of leukemia.

I tell people that I healed my cat of leukemia with chicken broth and vitamin C, and I believe it. But I also believe that she responded to the love and concern that had prompted me to try to save her. Chicken broth and vitamin C and love — all three are healers. Combined, they’re really powerful.

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