My Brother’s Cat Ate a Fishhook and Taught Me an Important Lesson About Writing In the Process

At 11:30 last night, my brother’s cat, Henry, found a fishhook and got it stuck in his cheek. He found two fishhooks actually — the second was embedded in his paw. Thomas walked out onto the deck and found him running in circles with fishing line trailing behind him.

All five siblings ranging from ages 10 to 24 (I’m the oldest) crowded around Henry under the outdoor floodlight.

He mewed, “Help me. I was a fool.”

Thomas held him by the scruff of his neck while I found a pair of pliers.

The hook in his paw was easy. I pushed the hook all the way through to expose the tip. Then I clipped the barb with a pair of pliers and the hook slipped right out. Henry didn’t even squirm.

The hook in his mouth was not so easy. I could feel the tip against the outside of his cheek, but no matter how hard I pushed it would not poke out far enough to clip. I tried for twenty minutes. Another sibling swapped in when I couldn’t do it. They failed.

Henry took the abuse like a champ. He didn’t bite, scratch or claw even once, and he had plenty of opportunity.

He just hung by the scruff of his neck staring with mournful eyes that seemed to say, “Why did I do this? What was I thinking? It didn’t even taste good.”

My father wheeled out to investigate the commotion. “Wheeled out” because he is in a wheelchair temporarily. He broke his leg. Just imagine a man who looks like Osama Bin Laden wearing a leg brace. He sat in his wheelchair cradling his head in disbelief.

“This is going to cost so much effing money…”

Don’t judge him. You’d think it too.

The mosquitoes were making the outdoor surgery difficult, so we moved inside to our walk-in pantry that happens to have the only real light in our house

I should mention at this point that my parents live off-grid on a property that can only be accessed by 20-minute boat ride. Electricity is scarce, so we don’t have many lights installed. For some reason the pantry closet has a light.

So we’re all crowded around poor Henry. We’re surrounded by cans of beans, and we’re all taking turns torturing our cat.

I’ll get to the writing lesson soon.

That hook just was not coming out. My dad googled emergency vet services. Apparently they exist. We might have left right then, but rain started falling and our boat isn’t particularly safe for nighttime operations even in good weather.

Remember, we can only leave by boat.

We decided to wait until morning. Brothers #2 and #3 left for the vet at 6 AM. My wife and I need to get brother #4 and sister #5 ready to pick Henry up and go to an aquarium (another long story.)

Normally, my morning routine is to dream up an interesting topic for the day’s article and go about publishing it in a relaxed fashion. Today, I need to get this done in less than an hour so that I can move on to managing boat logistics and picking up Henry from the vet.

I don’t have a topic. I don’t have any pre-written articles saved for a rainy day. I’m writing a stream-of-consciousness story about a cat eating a fishhook.

Henry taught me a valuable writing lesson last night:

Always have a backlog of finished writing so that you don’t find yourself rushing out weirdly-off brand stories like this.

You’re welcome for the writing lesson. Free of charge. I insist.

If you read this far, you should probably read article about how your time and attention are your most valuable assets:

Hey, I made a commitment to publish to Medium every day for at least a month. I’m not giving up now. The lesson is real. Tomorrow I’ll write two articles and save one for days like this.

Follow me if you like this story, I guess?



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John Joseph

John Joseph


Poultry farmer and part-time handyman. Now I write on the internet.