Friday, August 31, 2012

Two Lost Cats. Two Happy Endings

For once, I'm so glad I had to go to the laundromat. My apartment building's plumbing has been on the fritz for months, so they had to remove the washer/dryer ages ago. So I've been going to the laundromat every two weeks for months now.

And I hate it.

This is the couch in the laundromat. I don't hate going because of the couch. I'd hate going even if it was luxurious inside, but the photo conveys my feelings.

But today I'm glad I had to go do my laundry, because I witnessed the happy end of what I thought was a sad tail, er tale.

To backtrack even further. I have this tendency to feed stray animals.

(I've been called a catlady. I find it amusing, because every time this accusation - and it is an accusation, make no mistake -  is leveled at me, I'm invariably in the midst of some sort of interesting relationship with a man. One woman told me I should put the energy I gave to the cats into "getting a man." As if men were something one acquired like furniture, and as if there isn't enough love or energy in one person for both animals and human beings. Love is not a zero sum game, and labels are lazy.)

Yes, I put out food for feral cats, and I've gotten those cats fixed so that they don't breed more homeless kitties, and on and on. (Trap/Neuter/Return is a proven method of stabilizing and ultimately reducing the population of stray/feral cats - see this article.)

So when I moved to my current apartment in Hollywood with my then two cats (Max and 99, both now gone and much missed) I spotted some strays and left food out for them at times. My fabulous next door neighbor (now moved away) helped me buy a humane trap, and together we trapped, neutered, and then returned the ferals to their life outside. (For why this is a good idea, see the same article.) One of those cats was a small-boned black female with a spot of white on her chest. My neighbor named her Miss Kitty. Before we managed to trap and neuter her, she has a litter of kittens.

That's a whole story in itself. One which has a kind of weird, magical tinge to it that I want to use one day in a story. But let's just say Miss Kitty is fierce. She is a huntress, a panther in a tiny kitty body. But she is also grateful. She had three kittens, and I found homes for two of them. The third one I kept - she is my sweet fluffball Lucy.

She has her mother's intense stare, but longer fur and a crazy curly tail that arches over her back like a question mark when she stalks around. On hot days she does this:

 My neighbor moved, and the other cats in the area came and went, but Miss Kitty hung out and said hi to me and Lucy (and Max for many years, until he died last year) nearly every morning.

Here's a shot of Miss Kitty from a couple weeks ago:

That's one of her favorite perches - the rail of the stair above my apartment. From there she can survey her Hollywood kingdom.

She's awfully skinny these days, and she won't let me touch her, so I can't really get her to a vet. Even if I did, there's no way for me to give her meds or anything. She's a wild animal, whose life I managed to extend and make a bit better, and who has brightened many a day for me in return.

There have been other kitties hanging out now and then. This past year I met a handsome neutered male (yes, I know he's a neutered male, and no, I'm not going to tell you how) whom I called "Caesar" because he was mostly white with handsome markings around his ears that made me think of a Roman laurel wreath. Wish I had a photo of him, but he looked a bit like this, only more white on his body:

And a more circular dark patch around his ears.

He was very friendly, and liked to lounge outside my kitchen door, which annoyed Miss Kitty. But Caesar was very chill, and eventually they seemed to reach detente.

Then, about three weeks ago, I saw a poster up outside my apartment building. On it was a photo of Caesar and big letters saying MISSING. Only the name they used was "Marcus" (another Roman reference perhaps?) They hadn't seen him since Sunday, and they labeled him "A Friend to All." Which indeed he was.

My heart sank. I hadn't seen Marcus/Caesar since well before Sunday, so I had no info for his family. Apparently he'd been microchipped, but had no collar. I shook my head, wishing they'd kept him inside. But Marcus had been a friend, and to think that he was missing was very upsetting.

Then, yesterday I noticed that I hadn't seen Miss Kitty in a day or so. She wasn't at the door to greet us this morning, and I commenced to worrying about her.

Then today I went to the laundromat. It was too warm, but it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined. It never is. As I drove home, I waited to turn into my driveway because a man and his two young sons were walking a small black and white dog on a leash along the sidewalk.

After they passed, I pulled into the driveway slowly, glancing over at the dog. I'm an animal lover, and I like dogs just as much as cats.

Only it wasn't a dog! It was a cat on a leash. A very familiar cat. It was Marcus/Caesar!

(This is not a photo of Marcus/Caesar, but it'll give you the idea.)

I got the biggest smile of the day on my face. Marcus was fine! His family had found him, and instead of letting him out to roam freely, they now were taking him out on a leash.


A happy ending to the Marcus/Caesar story. Wow. I so needed that today.

Then I walked my clean laundry into my apartment, saddened to find no sign of Miss Kitty, but still grinning like an idiot over Marcus and his adorable family.

As I put my laundry away, I heard a meow from outside.

"Miss Kitty!?"

I raced to my kitchen door, and there she was. Black, skinny, big yellow-green eyes and all. I filled her bowl with more food and she chowed down.

A second happy ending. In a world full of lost animals, lost kids, bullies, wars, homeless people and pets, hunger, and ignorance. Here was a second happy ending in the space of five minutes.

A wonderful way to begin the weekend.


briank said...

The world needs more crazy cat ladies like you, Nina. Thanks for sharing this story.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

We have a black, reformed feral cat. Named Miss Kitty! She never had kittens though--the people who abandoned her at the house we bought had at least gotten her spayed. But apparently taking her to the vet when she got a bad infection (and this was still when she was domesticated, btw) was too much trouble and she survived the infection but her hearing didn't.

It amazes me that she survived the coyotes and loose dogs before we took her in. She's now a fat and happy mostly-housecat, but she is also impossible to medicate.

Your Miss Kitty looks like she might be suffering from hyperthyroid or kidney issues. Both are common as cats age. Sometimes, they get weak enough that you can do stuff to them. And in a lot of cases, they become more tame afterwards.

I volunteer at a cat sanctuary, Fat Kitty City, and we have a number of ferals that are now very friendly. So there's hope!

Nina Berry said...

Thanks, briank!

Angelica - what a coincidence! Two black ferals named Miss Kitty! So glad you came along to make your Miss Kitty's life so good. I had same thought about my Miss Kitty - I've had two cats who had hyperthyroidism, so I know how skinny it can make them. And then Max (who lived to be 20) also had kidney issues. If they live long enough, they get kidney issues and my Miss Kitty is around 13 by now. I give her the low protein kidney food.

I did get to touch her yesterday! She kind of startled, but didn't run. So I was able to give her a few pets. So maybe I can get her into a carrier and get her to the vet for a check up. I just don't envy the vet, so I need to find one who knows how to handle ferals. If they can give me meds that can be liquified, I could put it in some yummy wet food for her. We shall see!

And thank you both for the encouragement!

Jen Klein said...

What a sweet, sweet story! Loved reading this.