Late August of 2015, I had fallen into a state of deep sadness and loneliness in response to certain circumstances that had occurred recently. In an attempt to alleviate these emotions, I went for a walk in a nearby park when the thought of possibly getting a cat for some companionship popped into my head. I quickly shooed that idea away, citing reasons like too much responsibility and added expenses (food, vet fees, apartment fees, etc), despite the fact that I love cats.
Around 10 pm that same evening, I heard cat cries coming from nearby. My apartment complex has many stray cats and hearing a yowl or a cry here and there isn’t unusual. When I opened my door to see where the sound was coming from, however, I found a cat right in front of my door who then tried to come in! I don’t pet stray cats, so I wasn’t about to allow this one to come inside. I messaged my friend Em, who has and knows all about cats, asking her what to do. She told me to just leave it some water outside, which I did.
After leaving the water, it continued crying and would try to come in whenever I would open the door. It was then that I noticed it had a collar, which meant it must belong to someone and be lost. EM an I messaged back and forth about what I should do: should I leave it out and hope it finds its home or take it in until we find it. She left it up to me; I decided I would take it in, temporarily. Em said she would come by shortly with basic cat things.
“Cat”, as I would call him for about a week, came in and hid under the sofa. About 30 min later, Em showed up with a bag of litter, cat food, a littler box and food bowls. We set Cat up with the food and its litter and petted it from underneath the sofa. He didn’t flinch, bite or scratch; he just let us pet him while he hid. He made himself at home, eating and using the litter as needed, etc. When it was time to go to sleep, I closed the door to my room; I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a strange cat in my place. But even as a new cat to a new place, he cried the whole night to be let in and resolved to staying right outside my bedroom. He
To try and find his family, I posted posters around the complex, on Craigslist, FB and on the local lost and found pet database. No one claimed Cat. A few days into him staying with me and he began to be more comfortable. He rubbed his head on my feet, followed me around, rested his head on my feet. I had never known there were cats like this and so to me, he was an amazingly wonderful cat. But, I could not get attached to him. I had to find his family as I was sure they must be missing such a great cat.
He always wanted to go outside at night and, not knowing any better and believing he would go find his family, I let him go. He would always come back to me in the middle of the night (hearing a cat banging (yes, banging) on your door at 4:30 in the morning is one of the least pleasant ways to wake up). One day, I decided to go follow him to see if maybe he was going to his old family’s house. I had surmised that perhaps his old home was the apt exactly parallel to mine and that somehow he had gotten confused. When I had gone the day before, I saw cat food/dishes outside and tried knocking on the door but no one answered, but it was at least a clue.
After I let him out, he ran off and before I could see where he went, he was gone. Still, I went to the parallel apartment and sure enough, found him there, crying at the door the way he had done at my door about a week prior. I knocked at their door but again, no one answered. I left one of the “lost cat” posters on their door, hoping they would respond. Sure enough, not too long after, I got a text from one of them saying that he (Mr. Kitty) was their mom’s cat and she had been very worried about him. They thanked me for finding him and said how happy they were that he was back.
And so that was that. My temporary stint as a cat mom was over: I had accomplished what I had set out to do and found his home. It was a bittersweet moment because I had actually enjoyed having him. I still had reminders of his short stay, including a whole big bag of treats I had just bought. Before I had time to be sad or do some cognitive dissonance about it, I heard crying outside my door and opened it to find Cat! Confused, I texted his family to ask what had happened. Their response was :”I don’t know, ask my sister” along with her number. In asking her, I learned of the plan to take him to a shelter because her baby was allergic and her mother was moving. I asked her if she would want me to take care of him temporarily until the mom moved and adjusted but I never heard back from her.
So now I had to decide what to do with Cat. Should I keep him? If I didn’t, where would I take him? Would I take him to a shelter as his other family had intended? If I did that, what would be his fate?
It wasn’t really a question of whether I liked having Cat but whether I was cut out for the job. What I did know was that I could very clearly see how Divinely transpired all of this was. Not only did he literally come to my door, but he also came to me when I was going through a tough time. He provided not only some cuddly comfort, but also a distraction. Then there was the fact that had he not come into my care, he either would have remained an outdoor cat (doubtful with how persistent he was on getting inside) or found himself in a shelter (more likely).
Other things pointing to me keeping him: Em had been hinting at me becoming a “cat mom” for a while. I would send her pictures of a neighborhood stray and she told me to feed it and become its cat mom. When I posted to a lost and found pet group on FB, a NJ friend saw it, Kay, and told me to keep him if I didn’t find his family in a few days. (Coincidentally, she herself had had a stray come to her and after trying and failing to find its owners, her mom suggested they keep him. When I told her I really believed God had sent me this cat, she replied “I wouldn’t doubt that”). Yet another friend, who loved cats and grown up with one, suggested I keep him if I had no aversion to cats. One more friend, H, had constantly been telling me to get a cat so that she could play with it whenever she came over.
Clearly, there were lots of external voices telling me to keep Cat…but what did I want? When I looked into my heart, it was clear to me that I should keep him; I loved having him in my life and couldn’t imagine taking him to a shelter, to be abandoned again (and who knows if this was only the first time). As I learned later, adult cats are less likely to be adopted so it’s likely he may have stayed there for quite some time. Plus, I really did feel it was best for me to keep him; we were already buddies and had gotten used to each other and I really did feel he was a gift from Above. Even though it wasn’t a human being, I now had something to come home to. And he also had a home, someone who would care for him and love him.
It was decided: I would keep him and made it official when I took him to the vet for his check-up and rabies shot. It was at that moment that it finally felt real.
And that is how my cat, Sunny (short for Sundae, even though I almost never call him that), came into my life. He has taught me a lot about myself and about love, but that is for another post.