In the last issue, I wrote about the pain of losing a pet, so it’s a pleasant change for me to write about what it’s like to have animals wander into your life.
People who adopt pets often have this joyful experience; my friend Tina, who claimed to hate dogs, gave a home to a little stray she found limping outside their home. Now Pepot is the light of the house, beloved to all who live there.
Other friends devote their time to rescuing stray dogs and cats, advertising on Facebook to find them a good home among friends, and spending their own money to neuter the animals and bring them to the vet. Still others go to shelters and find that love comes in unexpected packages.
My favorite story is of a friend, Denise, who went to a shelter in 2000 to adopt a cat. She’d read a magazine article about how hard it was for cats to get adopted, and wanted to do her part to help by adopting an older cat.
She instead came home with a half-blind kitten. Denise had chosen another cat but the little one, whom shelter staff told her had lost an eye to a vicious attack by some men with a barbecue stick, sat on Denise’s foot and cried until Denise picked her up and cuddled her―whereupon the kitten emitted a loud purr and licked her face.
The kitten Nina is now a senior cat, happy and healthy, and loved―and Denise does not regret adopting a “crippled” cat. “Who else would have taken her?” she asks. “Though she was missing an eye, she had a bigger heart.”
In my case, we lost a kitten, Orange Ball, after Christmas; he just died one morning. And when I came home from the hospital after a long illness, we lost our ten-year-old Tiny three days later.
The next day, our housekeeper came home with two kittens―one white, one black and white. They’d been begging for food, dirty and miserable, on the route she’d taken home, and she noticed how friendly they were despite their circumstances. She reckoned I needed the lively energy kittens can bring to a home, and that our sole remaining cat, Sassy, needed company.
She was right on both counts. Sassy accepted the kittens with a minimum of fuss and hissing and spitting; she was lonely about being the sole cat at home. We named the white kitten Snowball, and the little black and white with the white paws became Socks―yes, they’re not the most imaginative names.
The kittens tear through the house when they play, and Sassy seems rejuvenated when she plays with them. Their silly little antics―going cross-eyed when tickled on the chin, stumbling, bumping into things―keep us entertained. And both kittens are as affectionate as Sassy; as if they know I’m still recovering from an illness, all three cats sleep with or near me.
I don’t mind waking up in the morning to see a furry gray behind in my face, a white kitten on the pillow I need to elevate my feet, and a tiny scrap of black and white fur on my belly. Rather, I feel privileged that our cats like me enough to keep me company, and for me, their presence is a constant blessing.
This appeared as “When they Wander Into Your Life” in Animal Scene’s May 2015 issue.