Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Angel Cat

Cat Woman, the GMA version

I was working a PAWS volunteer, every other Friday at Petsmart(c). Friday night duty was a slot they had trouble filling, but I was retired, and half sick, too, so I was never wanting to be out on the town. I am a long time cat lady, who has learned slowly and over the years about cats, and I know they need their space. I cleaned cages, scooped poop, cuddled when the cats let me, wrote notes for the folks in charge, took information, tried to get visitors to understand the PAWS rules.

I soon learned the potential adoptees were a lot more trouble than the cats. There were women who wanted to park kids there, or bring in a pushing mob + stroller. All those little voices were apparently tuned to screaming over the TV at home. Some of these rescue cats really weren’t up to that much humanity, especially when backed into cages in a narrow, walled in glass space. I put my foot down, as had others before me, and signs posted on the door by the store managers helped. “No kids without parents! No more than three people at a time!”

I’d been there for two years, taking my place behind the glass wall, sweeping the floor, cleaning cages, making sure there was food and water, that all feline were present and accounted for when I left, when my illness reached a critical point. I had Ulcerative Colitis and often there was the "I wanna collapse" level pain.

I was on the verge of my first ER trip, when they brought in a new litter of kittens. These were about six months old and mostly black. The head of our local PAWS had a husband who was a hunter, often over at his gun club. He was the one who’d spotted the Queen, hiding under the porch. He’d also heard the mews of tiny kittens, and he’d persuaded those who didn’t like cats to leave them alone until he went home and got the live trap. They were fostered for several months before they got to the store. Their now neutered Mama already had a forever home.

A cage full of kittens is a wonderful thing—all tumbling acrobatics, daring and sass. It was so much fun to lock the entrance to the space and let them out to play in front of the cages. Besides, nothing revs up potential adoptees more than kittens. I scattered balls and stuffed mice, got the feather teaser out, and began to enjoy the sight of them leaping around, chasing and tumbling crazily in the limited space. They batted balls, went sliding on the linoleum, and just generally had a big old time. They’d been given “sportsman” names because a gun clubber had rescued them from beneath the club house. They were  Blue Steel, Bullet, Smithie, Bowie, Archer, and Hunter. Several were tuxedos, adorable babies with round heads, neat white paws and full bibs. 

I stopped playing after a little and that was when I heard a soft mew behind me. When I turned, there was one who hadn’t joined the others on the floor. Totally black, this one was, with just a few white hairs on his chest, and an elegant, almost oriental head. I stepped close to the cage, and he simply climbed out onto my shoulder, then slipped down into my waiting arms. In the next moment, he began kissing me, and patting my face with his dainty feet.

He didn’t want to get down. He wanted to be held, to rub his face against mine and exchange vibrations. This is, as cat people know, is not the norm with kittens, especially when all your brothers and sisters are blasting nearby.  I was weak that night; my body just about ready for either death or cutting. I knew it was about my last tour of PAWS duty, that even two hours of serving the cats and the public was a stretch.  

When the baby was done kissing, I turned back his ear to see the number of his PAWS tattoo, and before I left that night, I left an application for adoption pinned on the cage. I knew I’d have an uphill battle convincing my husband to take in another—it had been part of the deal about volunteering that there were to be no additional cats—but within a week I brought him home—our beautiful boy from-under-the-gun-club. He crawled in bed with me that night and stayed at my side while I declined toward the bed-ridden and near-death experience of that year.

Sometimes, an "ordinary kitty" turns out to be nothing more or less than a gift from the Universe. This one, with the kisses and hugs which he bestowed upon me daily--like all little rays of divine light, he didn't manifest for long on this plane--was a full-on Blessing.

~~Juliet Waldron 


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