Maxine Johnson was devastated when her kitten, Rocky, got out of her house one day and didn’t come back.

She waited and called and looked for him, but to no avail.

Then one morning at 4:30 a.m., four days later, she heard meowing outside her Norridgewock home.

“I said, ‘It’s got to be my imagination,'” Johnson recalled Thursday. “I wanted him back so bad.”

Her son, Dale, went outside to investigate, and there in the dark, he saw the 4-month-old blondish-orange kitten under the front porch. He picked it up and brought it into the house.

“He put him on me in the bed and said, ‘Look who came home,'” Johnson said. “I cried.”


When she turned on the light, however, she quickly realized something was wrong with the kitten, who appeared severely injured.

“We took him to the vet who said somebody had stomped on him,” Johnson said. “They crushed both of his hip joints — they broke one off and crushed the other. He had one repaired Tuesday. He’s got to go back on the 13th to have his other hip done. It was a stomping-type injury. When they showed me the X-rays, you wonder how he is even able to move.”

Maxine Johnson puts a protective cone around the head of her 4-month-old kitten, Rocky Balboa Johnson, as she cares for him Thursday at her home in Norridgewock. The cat, that went missing for four days, is recovering after both its hip sockets were broken. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Johnson, who will be 84 next week, was heartbroken. She worried for Rocky, whom she had named for the boxer, Rocky Balboa, because he has two white front paws that look like boxing gloves. He has to wear a big cone on his head and stay in a dog cage so he doesn’t hurt himself until he is healed.

“The vet said don’t let him climb, but he can walk around,” Johnson said. “He didn’t show any sign of pain from the injuries, but the vet said it must have been painful. He will not be walking like a normal cat after the surgery, but he will be walking. With his age being very young, he’s going to heal better than if it was an older cat.”

After the trauma passed of not knowing if Rocky would live or die, the Johnsons began to think about who would do such a thing to a small, harmless creature. They checked around their Fawn Road, Norridgewock, neighborhood off Route 139, and no one knew anything about it. But they hope eventually someone will.

“The first surgery was $1,600-and-something, and they estimate it will be about $2,500 for all of it,” Johnson said. “We went to the bank and we put money down to cover it. It is costly.”


I asked Johnson if it would help for people to chip in financially.

“It would be nice because I don’t know that this is going to be the end of it,” she said. “They mentioned that he might have to have more surgery down the line, but right now it looks good. I do appreciate my sister, Linda Alderson, who has a little prayer chain, and she put it on for the little kitty, and one of our church members had a prayer chain. I figure prayers were answered when he came home. He was injured, but at least he came home. He lost a lot of weight, but he’s eating good. He loves Fancy Feast, but he’s having a hard time to eat with that cone on his head. I’ve got a little dish and I put it right inside the cone.”

Maxine Johnson cradles her 4-month-old kitten, Rocky Balboa Johnson, at her home Thursday in Norridgewock. The cat went missing for four days and is now recovering after both its hip sockets were broken. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

For those who don’t know Johnson, she is a retired 28-year dispatcher for the Waterville Police Department who comes from a generous, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth family. Her husband, Larry, 85, is a former chief of the Mattawamkeag and Oakland police departments and a retired Somerset County court officer who served a total of 43 years in law enforcement. Their son, Craig, is a former Waterville police dispatcher and current Somerset sheriff’s deputy and China police chief.

When bad things happen to good people in our community, we rally.

Maxine Johnson said she hopes that if someone knows who hurt Rocky, they will come forward.

“If the word’s out, they might know, or somebody may have had the same experience,” she said.

“Maybe somebody will say something.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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