In the spring of 2009, three more cats showed up at our house and began hanging out in our backyard. Even though we were avoiding going out into the neighborhood, the homeless strays were starting to come to us. They all looked healthy and were completely tame, but when we took their photos and canvassed a large area of the neighborhood, once again, no one knew anything. By that time, we had grown accustomed to not getting any answers, but we had to be responsible and ask just the same.
We started putting dry food out for them, and on June 2nd, we had them fixed and brought them all inside for good.
At that time, the number of empty houses in our neighborhood was at its highest, and foreclosure notices were a common sight. But, I had a feeling that people from outside the area were deliberately coming there to dump their cats. I wondered if any other neighbors were taking in strays, or if no one was willing to help them but us. In our area, the plight of cats doesn’t seem to rate very high on most people’s sympathy radar.
Monty is a very friendly and self-confident cat. He totally trusts people, even strangers. He has a swirl pattern on both sides, like a cinnamon roll.
Louie is a character. He thinks he’s Don Juan. He likes to romance all the females. He also likes to sleep on the bed, on his back with his paws pointed straight up in the air, as though he hasn’t a care in the world. He has found the good life.
Georgie came to us already fixed. She is a sweet, gentle and quiet blue-eyed girl. All she wants out of life is a nice warm lap.
Before we had brought Monty, Louie and Georgie to live indoors, another stray showed up. He was a young male not quite a year old. He was healthy and clean, and seemed new to the neighborhood. I suspected that he had just been dumped and had found our cat food right away. Good for him. He didn’t trust anyone, but we slowly kept working with him. We weren’t in any hurry. Our house was getting full, and I was tempted by the idea of leaving him as an outside cat.
On the evening of June 20th, 2009, I found him laying in pain by our patio door. He had cuts on his head and back and the outside of his right front leg was bloody with very little hair left on it. The vet said Dakota had either been hit or attacked. Dakota allowed me to pick him up and I brought him inside to convalesce. On July 15th, after he had healed, we had him fixed.
Dakota is now an indoor cat who has discovered the joy of curling up in your lap. From the way he acted initially, I don’t think he’d ever been in a lap before. Now he loves it.
One afternoon toward the end of May 2009, a cat appeared under the same bush where Duddly used to sleep. This cat was just skin and bones, and he looked so bad that I thought he had come there to die. My heart hurt for him, so I asked GOD to please help him not be afraid while I attempted to give him food. When I brought a plate out to him, he didn’t run. He didn’t even move. He just laid there and would not eat.
An examination revealed that he was suffering from giardia which he got by drinking contaminated water. The pills to treat that are very bitter, and poor Taffy couldn’t stand them. Also, one of his back claws had been ripped out and a tooth had punctured his lower lip. The vet said that Taffy may have been tossed out of a moving car. We also discovered that he had been declawed in the front and was mostly deaf.
Taffy was severely depressed and for a long time he would not eat unless we first cheered him up through petting and then personally handed him one tiny piece of kibble at a time. He would hide during the day and only come out at night when all was still. When we introduced him to the other cats, he totally avoided eye contact and kept clear of them all. Taffy is the most sensitive boy I’ve ever known and I cared about him very much. But it would not have been right to keep him. He needed a home that was calm, peaceful and safe. He needed a stable place with no other cats – something we could not provide.
At my wife’s work, a resident who was moving back into her home had asked my wife to help her get a cat. She had owned cats in the past and missed having one. Her home was very peaceful and quiet and she said she’d love to have Taffy. When we brought him to her, we visited quite often at first to help him make the transition. It took him awhile, but he eventually settled in quite well. We all still visit from time to time, and when we get together, I use a kind of sign language to call him to me.
Taffy loves to bury himself in a pile of laundry.
When Dakota came, that put us at 28 cats. That’s 28 more than I originally asked GOD for.
My feelings about having all these cats kept fluctuating. From a worldly point-of-view, 28 cats is ridiculous! It’s embarrassing. What is wrong with us? What must people think? And when another cat would come, I thought “ohhh! Why can’t people just love their pets and be responsible?”
But from a spiritual perspective, the overall number doesn’t even matter. We know and love each of them individually. In fact, I don’t even see cats anymore. I see little personalities wrapped in fur. Those that were suffering are now happy. Those that were just surviving, now get to play. We don’t mind spending our money on them and going without. They’ve become like our kids, and we’ve become their parental guardians.
The unique circumstances through which some of these cats have come to us make us believe that GOD gave them to us (or us to them) for a reason. We believe that there lives serve a purpose, and their relationship with us has meaning. We don’t go out of our way to help every stray cat we see, only those placed before us who are in need. Like the Good Samaritan, we did not turn our back on them when so many others did. We try very hard to do what we believe is right according to GOD, even when it’s not what we want.
At the time, I felt that I had “almost always” done what I should regarding these cats, but I also felt ashamed that I had “almost never” wanted to. So, in an effort to come-to-terms with my conflicting emotions, I decided to try very hard from then on to accept what may come and not spiritually drag-my-feet anymore. Of course, I had no idea that GOD would soon test me in a big way —