Whatever Happened To…The “Hang In There” Kitten?

Cottonballs hung in there.

He hung in there, big time.

And then he fell. After a good seven minutes, his cute little baby kitten claws were unable to hold onto that branch for any longer and down he went.

For the most part, the fall was forgiving. Long, lush grass cushioned his tiny furry body. However, a rogue tree root tweaked his left hind leg, giving Cottonballs a noticeable limp.

Shaking off the pain, the kitten walked across the back lawn in the direction of his cat door. His owners, Pam and Brent Walker of Oak Brook, Illinois, treated him well, giving him a gravy-soaked Fancy Feast meal more frequently than he probably deserved. When Cottonballs reached his feeding dish, he lapped up his meal with great gusto.

Full and satisfied, Cottonballs found his favorite spot on the sun-drenched front porch and took a nap that lasted five hours. If you’d been there, it would’ve melted your heart. Warm, cuddly and safe, Cottonballs slept peacefully.

The peace wouldn’t last.

Over time, Cottonballs became ornery. Hostile. Reckless. Those who knew him best said he cracked from the tremendous pressure of being the face of “hanging in there”. Even for a strong, growing cat, the weight was too heavy for his shoulders.

“What if I don’t want to hang in there?” Cottonballs once snapped at Pawsome, a Main Coon from three houses down. “Everybody expects me to hang in there. All because of that stupid poster. But maybe I’m tired of hanging in there. You know? Maybe the very last thing I want to do in all the world is hang in there. Has anyone ever thought of that? Has anyone ever given one damn what ole Cottonballs thinks?”

By the time he finished his long-winded rant, Pawsome had wandered 15 feet away, more focused on licking his own butthole than listening to his friend’s cry for help.

But the message was clear: Cottonballs was losing it.

By the age of 7, Cottonballs wore a mini-leather jacket most days and was stoned out of his mind on Mexican catnip. He’d only wander into his owners’ house to vomit on Brent’s pillow. Out of boredom, he’d spray urine directly into the face of Thunder, the family Pomeranian. At one point, Cottonballs rolled a honey ham — the Walkers’ dinner that night — through his litter box. The incident kept an anxiety-ridden Pam in bed for two days.

In 1994, Cottonballs ended up hopping in the back of a truck headed for Atlantic City. He’d spend his remaining days wandering up and down the boardwalk, disoriented, high and belligerent.

One of his last known conversations was with a seagull that lived near Harrah’s Resort.

“I didn’t ask for this,” Cottonballs muttered. “I saw a tree branch. And I hung from it. And I tried to hang in there. I tried like crazy to hang in there. But at some point you just have to let go.”

Cottonballs paused and, for a brief moment, reflected on his life.

He then coughed up a hairball that included a worn-out $1 chip from Bally’s and limped in the direction of the beach.

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