On Easter weekend 2003, my wife just happened to be at the vet’s office picking up some medication when a little girl came in with a stray who had just given birth to four still-wet kittens. The young girl had been allowed to feed the stray, but when her father discovered the births, he told her to get rid of them. So she brought them to the vet thinking he could help.
At that time the local foster group was at capacity. Dr. J. asked my wife if maybe we would consider fostering them. Since these cats had nowhere else to go, she conceded and brought them home. We named the momma Marmalade and the kittens Muffins, Tinker, Lacey & Zoey.
One day, when the kittens were still so young that they could barely walk and had not yet left the confines of their nest, my wife and I quietly entered the room just to have a look at them. She stood behind me as I squatted down a few feet from the pile of sleeping kittens. Just then, little Lacey woke up, silently left the nest, wobbled shakily toward me, reached my foot, climbed up my pant leg and instantly fell right to sleep in my lap. We were both in awe. She was so tiny and her eyes were barely open. That was one of the most tender moments we’ve ever experienced.
Once they were old enough, my wife sought homes for them and found some. But one night, just before a couple of them were to be given away, I had a dream. I dreamed that I was handing Tinker over to someone and as he was carried away, Tinker looked back at me with such pain in his eyes as if to say “Please don’t leave me! You’re my family!” Then, he was gone and my heart was broken. I woke up with tears in my eyes. I told my wife about the dream and she canceled their adoptions.
Marmi is a very simple, unassuming girl. When her kittens grew up, she never drove them away. She is still kind to them today. Her favorite things are to have her belly rubbed and to be the first to use a clean litter box.
Muffins is a very mellow, laid-back, easy-going dude. He gets along well with everyone, people and cats. He loves canned food, perhaps too much, and he enjoys finding unusual places to nap. For some reason he really likes women’s shoes – maybe he thinks they are surfboards – surf’s up dude.
I’ve often wondered what it is that Muffins is dreaming about when I see him laying on his back like this with his whiskers and little paws twitching. The picture of him on the right is my best guess. I think I nailed it.
Tinker is mellow like his brother Muffins, but he is also a little timid. He is a gentle soul. He likes to sleep in the bathroom sink which can make brushing our teeth a bit challenging. We don’t mind.
Lacy is particular about her water. She prefers to drink Auqafina out of a tiny bathroom cup. And like her mama, she enjoys a good belly-rub. She’s our sweet Little Boo.
Zoey was a very talkative and friendly girl. She and my wife shared a close bond.
On the evening of June 8th, 2004, while my wife was visiting her sister in Arizona, I called all the cats back into the house for the night, as we did every night, but oddly, Zoey was no where to be found. I kept calling to her and she eventually turned up around midnight. I had one of those weird feelings, so I told her to never do that again, because something could happen and I might never see her again.
The next morning I informed my wife and she suggested that I keep Zoey inside for the time being. But Zoey wanted so badly to go back out that afternoon. So, instead of struggling to keep her inside, I gave in. That night, she didn’t come back and we never saw her again. Even after all these years I still feel such terrible regret.
The very next morning I put up fliers all around the area. I looked in ditches beside the road. I walked all through the nearby fields and wooded areas searching for any sign. I found no trace of her. I went home very depressed.
When my wife returned from her trip, we carried Zoey’s picture around, checked at shelters periodically, and we spoke to every neighbor far and wide, but to no avail. GOD said that all things work to the good for those that love Him, and that with Him all things are possible. So even though it hurt, we believe that whatever happened, it was allowed for a good reason, and we’ve never given up hope.
Even after we moved to Arizona, I came back one month later to do a consulting job and I rented a trap and caught a cat that a neighbor thought might be Zoey, but it wasn’t. Zoey is such a trusting and friendly cat. We’ve wondered if maybe she had gone looking for my wife and someone in or near Mount Vernon found her and took her in. We love you Zoey, wherever you are.