All three of my cats think they're human. Maybe it's because we've had them since they were itty-bitty kittens found clinging to life in a drain pipe. Maybe it's because we've spoiled them absolutely rotten. Maybe it's because they're cats and they simply think they own the place anyway. Regardless, all three of my cats (Piper, Zoey and Lucy) see no issue with climbing into bed with us, attempting to sit next to us on a dining room chair as we eat as a family, or plant themselves firmly on the couch with us as we watch TV.
Obviously I love my little furbabies. I'm a die-hard animal lover who has fostered more than 70 of them since moving to Jersey in 2007. I've spent sleepless nights nursing them back from the brink of death, I've cried over heartbreaking medical prognoses, and I even carried Zoey around in a sling - directly next to me or sitting on my work desk - for more than a month as her legs healed from a terrible accident.
That all being said, I still do not place these three cuddle-balls into the same arena as Vincent or Myla. I love my cats - to the point of stupid - but I don't place human dignity on their shoulders.
Should a fire break out and I'm forced to save Vince or Lucy, I'm going to save Vince. When someone asks me how many children I have, I don't list Vince, Myla and then my three cats.
Yet the Pope's recent message to married couples about having children (and not pets) apparently ruffled more than a few feathers. Even in the comments of the linked article, people who supposedly "loved" the Pope turned their nose up in disgust at this particular message.
Given the amount of couples opting for pets vs. children these days, it's no surprise some would walk away from his remarks feeling called out.
Now, before I continue, no one (I repeat - NO ONE) is calling out infertile couples, couples struggling with serious chromosomal issues, or even couples who are truly not called to be parents (and I do believe there is a very small population of people who are simply not meant to be parents).
The pope is, however, calling out folks who are seeking to continue a life of self-centered irresponsibility.
Adults don't make children; children make adults. This is so incredibly true. After all, nothing says "responsibility" like taking on the care of someone wholly dependent on you for everything (every moment, of every day).
This sort of responsibility shapes a person and forces him/her to see the world from another's perspective. It demands sacrifice. It demands COMPLETE sacrifice.
In our culture, this level of self-sacrifice is avoided like the Plague. Having a baby will ruin weekend plans for, like... ever, right? And who wants to deal with sleepless nights, potty training and vomit in your hair?
I know you guys have seen me write about this a billion times, so I'm going to try really hard not to beat the dead horse, but I'm just so incredibly sick of children being seen as roadblocks to happiness.
They're not. They are happiness and love personified (in the truest sense of the word).
No amount of pet-responsibility comes close to that which a human child presents. I should know. I've had more than my share of pets, and not one (not even Zoey) compares to a child. That being said, not one of the 70+ animals that have come through my doors have helped me to grow as a person the way that Vincent has. Not one has given me fulfillment in the way that Vincent has. Not one animal has given me joy, happiness and love in the way that Vincent has. And not one has deepened my relationship with God in the way that Vincent has.
So no - for all those folks out there who want to run around claiming Fido is your child, just stop. The only people who think its cute are those who, themselves, are terrified of taking on responsibility for future generations.
As you can see, I talk to my cats (I'll have full-on conversations with them), I love my cats, and I consider them "furbabies" because they have me wrapped around their adorable little paws, but again... they're no substitute for children. Yet so many couples use them as the "next step" in their marriage... as if keeping a goldfish alive is somehow proving grounds for their ability (and desire) to parent.
It's just... ay.
It's incredible to me that society has created this sort of mindset regarding children. I really am baffled by it.
I know not all people are as desirous of children as I am, but to substitute pets as a realistic replacement???
The pope is right on this. Married couples who want to solidify their sacramental marriage would do best to allow their love to create a tangible symbol of that love - truly personified - that not only grows and changes with them through the years, but HELPS them grow, change and love more deeply than they ever thought possible.
After all, that's what marriage is all about. White dresses, cake, toasts and favors are temporary. Creating a person (and with that person, a soul) is forever. That child will FOREVER be a lasting testament to your love. Forever.
Fido, Sparky or Chuckles will never be able to claim that.
Everyone remembers this adorable little kitty, right? Her little life was spared when her momma, Gemma, fought off an attacker, sacrificing herself for Hope.
Well, you'll be happy to hear that Hope Solo is doing incredible and has gotten accustomed to her new digs. Her daddy, Frank, introduced her to big brothers Jayne and Lando, and she couldn't be happier. In fact, she's quite the priss-miss knowing that she's the leading lady of the house.
Frank was kind enough to pass along some photos of Hope so all of you could see her and get an update on how she's been.
So for all of you who were wondering how she's been, take a look at these photos an rest assured she's warm, cared for and content. Plus, she's keeping Jayne and Lando on their toes with all her kitten antics!
Once again, thank you to all those who shot some prayers her way (and Gemma's way). We appreciate them so much! Also, to those of you who have been asking, thanks for checking in on her. It's nice to know that there are so many out there with soft spots for these little furbabies. You're amazing!
Gemma is a gorgeous tabby kitten who is just about a year old. She was picked up by my friend, Frank, yesterday morning. He had noticed her and her kitten in the lot behind my husband's warehouse and noted that Momma cat had a badly injured paw.
Being that Frank's got a heart the size of Texas when it comes to furballs, he set traps to catch Mom and baby to get them checked by the Camden County Animal Shelter. He was successful in catching them, but Momma cat's prognosis was very, very poor.
Frank took Gemma to another vet who was willing to take on her case. She'd been viciously attacked and was likely trying to defend her kitten against a wild animal. While she was able to spare her kitten, it looks like she lost her arm in the process.
As a result, the 2nd vet told Frank that he'd either have to amputate her arm or put her to sleep on account of the infection that was caused by multiple bites.
This poor, sweet mama had sacrificed herself to save her helpless little kitten.
Frank, unable to afford surgery and not sure if euthanasia was the best recourse, took Gemma to me. Right now, she's in my bathroom. Being Sunday, there are no vets open to take her. I've tried to make her as comfortable as possible, but the wounds are just too much. She's become incredibly weak due to the infection and pain.
It breaks my heart, but at this juncture, I certainly don't have $2,500 to spend amputating her paw. However, I'd like to make a plea to all my readers out there.
First, please say some prayers for Gemma and all those lost, hungry and hurting strays that have no homes. These, too, are God's creatures and He loves them, too.
Secondly, please spay / neuter your pets. Please.
Third, if you can spare a dollar or two, please consider donating to Gemma's fund. I'm not sure, exactly, how to set one up yet (I'm looking into it), but if you would like to help cover Gemma's expenses up to date ($180) and the cost of her surgery, Frank and I would be so appreciative. She's a really sweet girl who deserves a second chance - especially after heroically protecting the little life she'd been given charge over.
Some of her wounds are pictured below. I tried making that smaller so those of you who aren't the best with blood aren't too offended...
Like I said, she's a surprisingly sweet little girl for being both feral and in incredible amounts of pain. It's what led me to her name. St. Gemma bore the stigmata and bore those Wounds with patience and love. This little Gemma seems to be made of the same stuff.
Truth is, however, is that little Gemma is not long for this world unless we are able to do something to save her. That would require immediate amputation, and the funds to procure that amputation.
Please considering donating today. I've got a PayPal account (email@example.com), but I'm not entirely sure how to set it up so you guys can see I'm not putting donations into my "Gina wants Ice Cream every night for a year" fund. I promise, however, that any funds noted as "For Gemma" will not be used for anything BUT Gemma's expenses.
In my 4 years doing this, my husband and I have been able to rescue and place 70 kittens/cats. Gemma makes 71. I don't want her to be the first one we lose. She's too beautiful a creature. So pray for a miracle, please, specifically asking her namesake to pull a few ropes.
Special thanks to Frank for going out of his way on the weekend (and for paying out of pocket!) to see this Momma cat get help. We need more people like you in the world!
Also, for those of you looking for a happy bit of news after reading this, you'll be thrilled to know Frank adopted Gemma's kitten. Originally, he named the kitten "Han Solo." After the vet gave Han the once-over, Frank realized the kitten was a girl, so he renamed her "Hope Solo." And as you can see from this picture, she couldn't be happier with her new daddy:
Let's give Hope a chance to grow up with her Mommy!
UPDATE: I'm currently trying to get Gemma set up on PetChance.com so folks feel more confident that I'm not funding my obsession for Cherry Garcia.
Also, thanks to S. Weller for being the very first donation! You are wonderful!!!
UPDATE #2: I am heartbroken to report that Gemma has passed away. After being checked again by the vet, it was decided that her infection had spread too much and she was too weak for surgery. Thus, the only humane thing to do was put the darling to sleep. Frank was there with her and consented to carry this heartbreak, himself.
Thank you to all who donated. Donations totaled $115. Total cost of Gemma's visits and medications was $180. The vet who euthanized Gemma did not charge us (BLESS HER!). Thus, Frank and I only had to put forth a manageable $32.50 each.
THANK YOU. Thank you for helping us help Gemma cross the Rainbow Bridge. While we wish we could have seen her live a long and healthy life on earth, we are comforted to know she's pain-free and being cuddled by Christ.
You're all in my prayers. Christian or not, each one of you who prayed, shared or donated proved you have a deep and universal love that I am humbled by and grateful for. So again, thank you and bless you for your generosity.
P.S. - Hope Solo is doing great! She is adjusting nicely and is quite the balm for Frank's heart right now!
Most of you know I'm a huge cat lover. I have fostered and found homes for almost 70 kitties. Help me make Moo #70!
His wonderful momma can no longer care for him as the economy has forced her to relocate to a place that will not accept animals. She has no other family that can take him, and she feels as though she's being forced through finances and circumstance to give up her child. Please don't judge this woman for the scenario she finds herself in.
Anyway, here is a bit about Moo from his momma. As you can tell, she's a doting, thoughtful parent who really wants to make sure Moo finds a good, loving home. Thanks in advance for any and all help / prayers you send Moo's way!
Moo was born in mid-July, 2000 and was declawed shortly thereafter. He tested negative for feline leukemia virus. He did receive the vaccine as a kitten, and received his annual booster until 2009. At that time, I was advised that since Moo never went outside, he no longer needed to receive it. I was advised to get it again should his “status” change to indoor/outdoor cat. His status has not changed.
Moo is very friendly and loving. He prefers to come to you, but will come when called (usually). He does not like sudden, loud noises. If you run a vacuum cleaner, he will run and hide in a different room. He does NOT like the garbage disposal, and I have learned to run it when he is in different room with the door closed. I will open the door a few minutes later, and he is fine. I have only seen him hiss and spit twice – once at the vet’s office while he was in his crate and a dog was sniffing around it, and once when a toddler was trying pet him when he was hiding under a bed.
Moo eats Science Diet dry food: a combination of Hairball Control Light and Mature Indoor Cat. Both can be purchased at pet supply stores. I will fill his bowl twice daily with about a third to a half cup of dry food. He does not always eat that much, and occasionally will let me know he wants more food by standing near his bowl and mewing. I do not keep food in his dish constantly, and therefore, he does not overeat and then get sick from too much food. Moo loves the water and a bit of fish from a can of tuna, and usually comes running when I open one. He does like any variety of canned food as a treat, but usually only about 2-3 ounces at a time. He likes to lick bowls that held tomato sauce, he likes chicken broth and stock, and beef broth. Moo does not drink a lot. He frequently ignores his water dish. He will usually climb on the bathroom vanity and drink right from the tap when I am brushing my teeth. Sometimes, he will stand in the powder room doorway and call. I turn on the water, and he will go up and take a drink.
Moo does not seem to care for any crunchy cat treats, but he does like the “moist” treats, such as Whisker Lickin’s or Pounce, any flavor. I leave 5-6 every day on the floor near his food, when I leave for the day. He usually declines the treats when I offer them from my hand. Moo also likes “Cat Milk” in small amounts – about and eighth of a cup – in a bowl as a treat.
For litter, I buy Fresh Step Multi-Cat Formula, which can be purchased anywhere. I don’t know how he would feel about different litter, I have seldom been unable to find it, and think it’s just better to be consistent.
Moo does not like to be brushed much. I usually have two brushes at time, a while I am brushing with one hand, he likes to be able to sniff the other. He will bat the brush with a front paw and walk away when he has had enough.
Moo is picky about his toys. He likes toy mice that have something inside that “rattles”, but they are hard to find. He likes toys on the smaller side that have feathers, but he chews the feathers off quickly. I find them to be among his favorite. He likes fuzzy mice with long tails. Plain toys that look like mice don’t seem to interest him. He likes to bat small balls around, too. I once fished four out from under the kitchen stove. He likes the toy shaped like a bee, the ears seem to really interest him. It does not look like he plays with it, but he does. I hear it sometimes in the middle of the night. Moo will get very curious about cardboard boxes that are about the size he can get into (18x12x12). He likes to sit and sometimes lie in the lid placed on the floor.
I have purchased several beds for him over the years, and he has not used one since he was a kitten. He is creature of comfort, however. I often find him curled up on either my bed or the guest bed. So much so that I have taken to covering the beds in a clear vinyl shower curtain to cut down on having to use a roller on the cover. He does not mind laying on that at all.
When I go to bed, Moo usually comes up when I turn off the light, and will lie near my head, or more frequently, at the foot of the bed.
Around the holidays, or even whenever there is a gift around, moo loves to chew on curling ribbon. He will eat it, and he will get sick, every time, so I am always certain to keep curling ribbon away from him. The wrapped gifts are kept covered at all times. Moo will bat at ornaments hanging from the bottom of my Christmas tree. He really seems to enjoy this, so I do hang inexpensive dangling ornaments of no sentimental value from the bottom branches.
Moo also is very curious about snow. He watches it for hours at the sliding glass door on my patio, or from a windowsill. Because he won’t jump from the second floor patio, I would let him out to explore. He only stays out for a few minutes at a time. Previously, when that was not possible, I would put a pile on a cookie sheet and bring it right in my apartment on put it on the kitchen floor. When he was done, I would just dump it in the sink.
As I told you, Moo really likes that green blanket. When I put in on my lap, he gets right up and starts kneading and purring. When he is very happy and content there, he will drool a lot, so have a napkin nearby!
So if you're interested in helping this little guy out, please don't hesitate to let me know! I'll be sure to pass you along to Moo's Momma. And keep them in your prayers. Moo so that he finds a great home, and Momma so she has a safe, successful and blessed move for herself and her family. Thank you!
Meet Itty and Bitty, an adorable pair of furbabies who need to find a new home ASAP. Their momma was an unfortunate victim of the economy and got laid off. Luckily, she was blessed with a new job, but that new job takes her over an hour away and forces her into a situation in which she must choose between working or keeping the kitties.
Her new living arrangements will not allow for animals of any sort. Try not to judge her for being unable to find a place that accepts cats. Her new arrangements could very well include working on an ocean liner for 6 - 8 months at a time!
Anyway, she's unable to take them with her, but she's doing everything she can to ensure they find a good, loving home together. I was tasked with helping her reach those ends. Help me help these beautiful babies find a forever home.
Some background info on these little ones (from Momma):
Bitty: She loves to cuddle. She is my lap cat. She loves laying in the sun, playing with her toys, and cuddling with her sister. She waits at the door for when I come home. She loves to purr. Shewill make you laugh when she runs and does her tricks. She's very friendly with people and not shy.
Itty: She is a little sweetheart. She loves to watch people and will also wait for you at the door. She is more laid back and will lounge all day. She loves to cuddle with Bitty. She arches her back and people think she is going to attack them but it's her way of saying she wants to be pet. She would never hurt a fly! She loves water for some reason. She's got the most precious face and will rub up against you to show affection. She loves to get kisses and if you make a clicking noise she will roll over on her back and want you to scratch her belly.
They are both fixed and up-to-date on their shots. They are not declawed (because Momma understands how horrible that practice is - so potential adopters much be aware of this as I don't adopt out to folks who declaw).
They do come free with the following items:
A special litter box
A carrier (they both go in the same one)
Their favorite blanket
A copy of their vet records
If you have any questions / comments, feel free to contact me. In the meantime, please share this via e-mail or the Twitter / FB buttons below. Getting this out to as many people as possible is the best way to find the family that's been hoping for a pair like this!
Little Auggie is doing much better! After his course of antibiotics and eye drops, he's a perfectly normal, lovable kitten!!!
At nine weeks old, he's making up for lost time by pouncing on toys, climbing and jumping on the various kitty trees we have, and stretching himself out for copious belly rubs. Both eyes have completely cleared and he's able to see perfectly fine! He didn't even need the white blood cell infusion the vet was sure about!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your prayers for this little guy. I have no doubt his speedy recovery is courtesy of all those who sent their messages of warm fuzzies his way. I've read all the e-mails and Facebook commentary, and all of your messages warmed my heart. Thank you so much!!!
Now comes the hard part. We need to find Auggie his forever home. After living in filth and suffering starvation, dehydration, debilitating sickness, and malicious intent from some of our factory workers (grumble, grumble, grumble), Auggie deserves a long, full life filled with love and affection.
So if you or anyone you know may be interested in adopting this little furbaby, please contact me. He will be fully up to date on all shots, and he will be fixed by the end of next week. He is litter box trained, super affectionate, and gets along with Vincent (my son) splendidly.
I honestly think he knows we gave him a second shot at life, and he's the most grateful kitty ever. He will shower you with such love and cuddly softness that you will melt with joy each time you snuggle with him.
Again, thanks for your continued prayers. Instead of his health, let's pray for his forever family now. Blessings to you all!
Oh - and a new video I took last night as he romped around chasing my hand as it crept under his blanket. Enjoy. :)
Apparently God's got an incredibly messed up sense of humor. I found this in my mail:
Apparently spending a few days last week being humiliated repeatedly for naught wasn't enough. Thus, another round I can offer up for whatever expiation I need accomplished.
That's how I'm looking at it, anyway. I've always asked Him to make sure I accomplish my Purgatory on Earth so I can greet Him right away upon death. Things like this just let me know my prayer was heard. Ha ha!
In brighter news, Auggie's still making incredible progress! Here's the newest comparison pictures. The day-by-day is fabulous!
He's still lethargic for much of the day, but his energy level is definitely improving. He is finally eating and drinking on his own (I've had to hold his can or plate under his mouth because he couldn't stand long enough to eat properly). He's also using the litter box like a pro. Best news of all is that he's beginning to act like a normal kitten! He swatted for my camera cord a few times while I snapped his photo today, and he narrowly escaped diving off the edge of my desk (I caught him as he tumbled over the side).
That's right, Auggie! I'm glad to see him with the strength to play. :)
Again, thanks to everyone for the notes and messages of love and prayers for him. They've done wonders in helping him heal. Thank you!!!
So I've decided to rename the kitten. Ajax just doesn't seem to fit at all. He's too mildly tempered.
His eyesight is getting much better. He's able to fully focus his right eye, and his left has begun to follow suit. He keeps them open for much longer stretches and now chances to venture further than one or two steps.
He's eating and drinking much better, too. Slowly but surely, he'll regain his strength.
So, what to name him?
Well, since he's still having trouble with his tender eyes, I did a quick search for a MALE patron of sore eyes. Didn't want to name him Cecilia. Ha ha!
Did you know that the patron of bad eyes is St. Austin? I didn't. In fact, I'd never heard of a Saint Austin.
So I did a little digging and learned that St. Austin is actually a form of St. Augustine (with whom I am VERY familiar!). I did not know, however, that he was the patron of bad eyes (though it makes sense upon reflection - he must've spent hours reading and writing by candle light).
I like the name "Austin," but it still didn't fit. But ya know what does? Auggie.
My husband had a favorite uncle named Augustine, and everyone called him Auggie. When the thought occurred to me, I felt like it was a perfect fit for this little kitten. Auggie, while different, grows on you. Plus, it lends the strength and history of our great Doctor to him. Now I feel confident that I can ask St. Augustine to harass St. Francis to ensure his little buddy is well provided for. I bet St. Monica (St. Augustine's mother) is thrilled to have a little kitty to look after as well.
So... Auggie it is. :)
Here's the newest compare pictures (from yesterday and today) and a special video that shows just how much he enjoys a good belly rub. You can even hear him purring!
Ajax after his first bath around 2pm yesterday. You can see his right eye is oozing with puss. His left eye is completely swollen shut. Even removing the crusted puss didn't help. He's super boney and very lethargic.
Here's Ajax this morning (after 4 rounds of drops and 3 rounds of oral antibiotics). He's much more alert, his eyes are able to focus, and though he's still super skinny, he's gonna get fat soon enough with all the yumminess at his disposal.
With all the rescues I've nursed back to health, it never ceases to amaze me how much progress can be made in so short a time (with such minimal effort!!!). It's a wonderful reminder that God doesn't ask us for huge, amazing feats of faith. He asks us for little things, because it's the little things that count.
The guy who contacted John about the kitten made the decision to care about a stray kitten. He didn't have to. He could've easily let nature take it's course. Instead, he called for help.
John, who really doesn't want to deal with any more fosters, made the decision to call me. He had pushed off the guy for a few days, but in the end, he made the right decision by calling me and allowing me to check the kitten out myself. Had he gone with Plan A (dropping it off at the shelter), this kitten would have been euthanized.
Then me... when I first saw Ajax, I was honestly horrified by his condition. His eye had actually bubbled over, and I thought for sure he had been born with a genetic defect which claimed it. He was infested with fleas, and I worried about bringing them home. However, the least I could do was give this kitten a proper cleaning.
Then the vet tech who gave me a pass at the clinic because of my past experience there. She didn't have to "break the rules" but she did. She understood a serious need was present, and she silently added my name to the top of the list.
Also the vet, herself. She went out of her way to ensure Ajax had fluids and food to spare. She didn't have to pack on the extras, but again... she made the decision to pay attention to the little things.
And all these little things... they add up to something incredible. Each "little action" is what helped Ajax along the road of Divine Providence. Each of us played a part in the miracle of Ajax's recovery. And though his story is not complete, at least it's taken a dramatic turn in the right direction.
So thanks to all of you, too, who have made the "small" decision to share Ajax's pictures and stories with others. I've gotten so many e-mails about him. Please keep sharing. Eventually, one of you who makes the "small" decision to share his story will share it with the family who needs him to complete their portrait.
In the end, it's all about the small things. No masterpiece was ever created with one brushstroke, no quilt with one thread, and no feat of architecture in one day. The same is true of our lives and of our faith.
Blessings, and again - thank you so much for spreading the word about Ajax. My appreciation is immeasurable.
Some of you readers are aware of this, but for those of you who aren't, I'm an animal lover.
Some claim I'm a crazy cat lady, but in all honesty, they're just the ones who find me most often. I've been known to help stray birds, stray possums, stray puppies, and yes... even a stray raccoon once (that was scary - make sure you've got long, super tough gloves, plenty of blankets, a large box, and a litany to St. Francis -ha!).
Anyway, my newest little one was delivered to my desk this afternoon. My husband called while I was at lunch and informed me that there was a badly injured, blind and deaf kitten in need of help. When I got back to work, I found this little face starting back at me:
Oh, but he was dirty! I immediately went to work scrubbing his poor little body free from fleas, ticks, and grime. His eyes had sealed shut from the overflow of puss, making it appear that he'd been born without his left eye. His nose was also caked in pus and grime.
The above picture was actually taken AFTER his bath. Now that he's dry, warm and clean, he's calmly sleeping on my desk awaiting a trip to the vet after work.
My old standby vet is no longer practicing in Jersey and the place I would take all my old rescues in Philly is no longer in service. This means I have no option but to find a new vet who is willing to take all my charity cases.
And being that this little one will make the 68th animal I've rescued, this vet would have to be pretty amazing to want to take me on.
This little guy may or may not lose his left eye. It depends on how bad the infection is. I've honestly seen worse that have healed, but I can't say for sure that this little guy will be as lucky. On the plus side, he's not deaf, and he's not blind, either. He's slightly dehydrated and extremely undernourished.
I checked his teeth and he's about 8 weeks old. I doubt he's been fully weaned (though that typically happens around the 6th week mark) because of his health condition. He wouldn't take food from me and also wouldn't have water. Hopefully he'll come around in a couple hours after he's settled in a bit.
Anyway, after I take my rescues to get checked, I foster them until they're back to full health. I also litter-box train them, get them up-to-date on all shots, make sure they're spayed / neutered, and socialize them with my own cats (and technically Vince). I want to make sure each of my fosters has the greatest chance of being adopted by a wonderful family as possible. Ensuring each kitty is house-trained, plays nicely with others, and loves children typically does the trick.
Each of my fosters also go home with a litter box, litter, and food. All of this is free to the family who adopts them as my special "Thank you for opening your hearts and home to this furbaby."
For now, I'll be calling this one Ajax. I'm hoping to give him all the strength of ten Greek heroes considering the battle he's now facing. Please offer some prayers up to St. Francis for him. He's such a sweet, gentle little thing.
If interested in adoption, let me know. I'll be sure to send out special updates regarding health and all to you. Otherwise - SHARE, SHARE, SHARE! Thanks!!!
Great Blog if you click the pic!
So I was watching a documentary the other night about a woman and her no-kill cat sanctuary. Being a bit of a "crazy cat lady" myself, I thoroughly understood much of what was revealed during the hour-long special.
I've been an avid animal lover my entire life. I must've drove my mother up the wall with the amount of animals I'd try to sneak into the house. I succeeded with a few she still doesn't know about to this day! Ha ha.
(Mom, if you end up reading this, sorry... blame Grandpop. His blood pumps through me, too, and inevitably ends up using my heartstrings as a makeshift accordian. I'm powerless, really!)
Anyway, it wasn't until I moved out and started a life with John that I kicked into "foster-mom" gear. In the last few years, John and I have fostered and found homes for more than 50 cats / kittens. Now obviously 50 isn't nearly as fantastic a number as 700, but those 50 that we saved enabled 50 others to find room at the shelters. Our work also opened the hearts of others to the plight of unwanted animals, and now several of our friends have either fostered or adopted their own furbabies. Be the change you want to see, right?
In my travels as foster-animal advocate, I've come to see a lot of heartbreaking things. My own foster-turned-adopted cat, Zoey (read her story as featured on Animal Planet) taught me an incredible amount about the overburdened shelter system, the carelessness and cruelty of humans, and the power of faith.
Knowing this, one thing from the documentary really struck me. A tiny, malnourished kitten was brought in, barely clinging to life. A team of volunteers rallied around him, bottle feeding, warming, and caressing this impossibly small, hungry and dehydrated kitten. Sadly, they were too late in their efforts and the kitten succumbed to its tryst with neglect. This situation is all too common all over the world. However, Lynea Lattanzio (the "crazy cat lady") said something I've found myself saying when faced with the crippling emotions that come from being "too late."
She said "At least this animal died surrounded by love. At least, for a few moments, he understood what it was to be cared for, to be held, to know dignity."
I was crushed, then, because I've known that feeling. I've felt my heart break over the loss (and even potential loss) of these little lives. People would always look at me cock-eyed, asking me how I got attached so quickly to these animals. Much like the kitten documented above, the volunteers had only known him a total of 15-30 minutes before his life slipped away, yet all felt that sharp pang of loss.
Lynea said something else that echoed my own voice to friends: It never gets easier. It's always painful when you lose one. In all the years I've done this, it's never not hurt.
And as I was thinking more on it, a little light went off over my head. Why DO we feel such an incredible sense of loss? Why does that pain linger? Why do we catch ourselves mourning - years later - those little lives that were lost on our watch?
I realized it was because we felt, briefly, Divinity. As I explained in a previous post, all animals have souls. Not only do they have souls, they have pure, unblemished souls that can do nothing but infinitely please their Creator.
As we hold those little furry angels, we delight in that purity. We recognize the hidden gem of God's breath that animates their beating hearts. As that life force returns to its Creator, it inevitably leaves us behind, and we sense that we lost something of infinite value. We lost something pure and innocent - a reflection of the One our souls unconsciously seek. I really do think that is why we immediately sense that connection and subsequent loss.
All life comes from God - and as such, all life returns to Him.
May those folks over at the Cat House be immensely blessed for everything they do. May all fosters, volunteers, and rescue staff be blessed. They do incredible, heart-breaking work... and they DO make a difference. Even if the world is incapable or unwilling to see it.
Commentary on the wall of a fellow blogger brought to mind a really happy memory of mine today.
My family has always been the "animal-loving" type. There was never really a time where we didn't have a cat, a dog, or some combination of the two running about. The stories of how they came to live with us were just as unique and varied as their personalities. One in particular jumped to mind today, due to the aforementioned post on Dymphna's wall.
This post isn't about Dymphna's article. Instead, it's about the memory the commentary brought about, and I wanted to share it with you guys, many of whom are animal lovers just like me!
Anyway, back when I was in about 4th grade, we had recently lost our cat, Sparky. Sparky was a gorgeous tabby who was a mostly outdoors cat. He'd leave at night and come back in the mornings, turning up on my brother's bed, or whipping his tail in front of the fridge as he sprawled out on the mat we kept there. We were all pretty sad when he simply didn't show up anymore. We knew that he was older and my mom explained that when cats get older and are ready to die, they go off somewhere private to be at peace.
I always like to think they sneak off to die privately so we don't see their little souls shooting off to Heaven. Cats like to give off the impression that they're satanic little creatures who have hearts of steel, but us cat-loving humans know better... they're all furry little angels in disguise!
That all being said, we were highly bummed about Sparky, but God had plans for this animal-loving family!
One Sunday while we were at Mass, an extremely curious thing happened. A stray tabby cat (who looked an awful lot like a super young version of Sparky) came prancing into the church. He marched right up the aisle and into the sanctuary. He walked up the steps leading to the altar, and acted like the place was his. Fr. Gerry (a resident priest at the time) wasn't entirely sure what to do. He kept on with the Mass ('cause seriously... what else can ya do?), and parishioners just kinda giggled as they watched this plucky little cat running around the sanctuary.
My family ended up grabbing him (Mother was a Eucharistic Minister, sister was a lector, and brother was sacristan at the time... or maybe an altar server?). Anyway, at the end of Mass, Fr. Gerry asked what we were going to do with the cat. We ended up taking him home with us, absolutely smitten with his adorable personality.
When we got home, we figured we had to name him. So we tossed names into a hat. My brother thought it'd be funny to call him Pope because we found him in a church. He certainly acted like he owned the place, so it seemed fitting. Everyone kinda agreed it'd be funny to call him that, but no one really wanted to settle on that for a name. I guess it seemed a little wrong.
But Raymond threw that name into the hat anyway, no one really expecting it to be pulled. I only remember Blackie and Sparky II were two other choices. My mom pulled out Pope, and the name stuck. Ha ha. He was a wonderful, wonderful cat. Many years later, he unfortunately was attacked viciously by neighborhood kids. He lost an eye and was never quite the same. He ended up dying a short time later. But oh my... the love we had for our cat named Pope... what a wonderful memory to stumble upon today. He was such a little sweetie. May he be enjoying his own slice of Heaven with all our wonderful animal friends.
St. Francis, protect our beautiful animals and help us to be their faithful, trusty stewards.
See these three beauties? They're my other children - Piper, Zoey and Lucy. Piper and Lucy are sisters we found behind our work-building when they were about 5 weeks old. Zoey came two years later, a banged up kitten of 5 weeks with two impossibly broken legs and a horrible respiratory infection.
Anyway, I've had tabby cats all my life. I find them to be the most beautiful of all cats with their interesting markings and special relation to the Blessed Mother. What relationship is that? Well, there's a old legend that goes a little something like this:
The night Jesus was born, the air was very cold and damp. Little baby Jesus was shivering, and the Blessed Mother was unable to warm Him enough. Even the oxen who crowded around their God could not provide enough heat for Him. In walks a beautiful tabby cat who hops into Christ's cradle and curls up beside Him, sharing his warmth and lulling Him to sleep with constant purrs of love and gratitude. The little Christ-Child was soothed and warmed, and as a result of this act of kindness, the grateful Mother raised her hand in blessing over the humble creature.
This is why tabby cats are honored with the familiar "M" mark on their foreheads. It denotes the special blessing Our Lady imparted to them through the generosity of the small cat who wandered in to pay homage to his King.
Ever since hearing that story as a small child, I'd bless my tabbies by placing my thumb over the "M," thanking Our Lady for her blessing, then praying a Hail Mary over my furbaby asking for her continued protection. I'd repeat this every so often with ALL my tabbies. Zoey's my first cat who isn't a tabby. She's all black! Ha ha. So when I pray over my two girls with the familiar "thumb over the 'M' motion," I feel like I'm sorta leaving Zoey out of the mix. Of course I ask Our Lady to bless her, too, but it doesn't feel the same.
Ha ha. Ah well. I realize that's silly, but just something I was thinking about tonight after snuggling up with my girls. It reminded me to share the story of the Nativity Tabby with those of you who might not have known it otherwise! :)
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