Thursday, November 21, 2013

Billy the Kitten (Or, Why I Do What I Do)

When my sister and I were young teens, we found a fluffy gray and white kitten in the woods behind our home. I insisted we name her Billy (I was very into androgynous names at the time). Our grandmother, who we lived with, absolutely detested animals, but especially cats. So we snuck her into the basement. I had cat allergies at the time and was trying to hide my sniffles with Claritin. We would do daily trips to the PetSmart just up the road in order to smuggle two cans of cat food into the house. 

For two glorious weeks, we had a kitten. And then she found her way upstairs when we weren't home, and my grandmother had an absolute meltdown. We insisted she must have snuck in, and tried hiding the cat in another part of the house. She found the cat again. The jig was up. We said we could keep her outside and take care of her, but she demanded that the cat be dumped at the county shelter.

We loaded into my dad's blue Chevorlet with Billy in our arms, sobbing uncontrollably. When we arrived at the county shelter my Dad took Billy from us and went into the shelter by himself. He tried to console us with the fact that she's a kitten, she probably would find a home. I had an intuition at the time that that was an unlikely possibility. I recently looked up the live release rates of that county shelter in Ohio, and they're the same as here in the Midlands, so I know that, more than likely, she met an early death. I hope otherwise, but reality is what it is.

Billy is why I rescue animals in need whenever they come across my path. Billy is why, when I found a pit bull on the street with a very high prey drive who kept diving for my cats, I couldn't surrender him to the municipal shelter and have him lose his life. So he stayed in a spare room and was securely by my side whenever I leashed him up to take him for walks. Then dear angel friends of mine stepped up to foster him, and I owe them so much for that.

I know that the average person thinks it's crazy when I say I have 6 cats and 1 dog (I've even met animal people who thought the number of cats I have is excessive). I know that my husband didn't know this was coming when we got married, and neither did I. As an ex-evangelical, I had compassion for animals but always thought unearthing my passion to care for them would mean I had misaligned priorities, since only human people have souls, and shouldn't I try to save those first? (I don't believe that nonsense any more). But it unleashed itself when I adopted Schnapps, and it has blossomed and been stretched and challenged and tested. And my husband has accepted this part of me, and I am so grateful.

No matter if I'm paid for it, I will always be an advocate and a rescuer. It's in my blood. And I know so many people who feel the same way. People who will give their last dollar to save an animal's life and provide it with quality care. And they won't get recognition for it, but their impact is felt in ripples around the world. Everything is inter-connected, after all. Who knows what lives you touch when you save an animal, and it is adopted into a happy home, and that animal has an impact on those people in ways you could never have imagined. My animals have saved my life times over. Who knows how many times the animals we save, save the lives of others?

I could go on for hours. But I have to go serve my cats Fancy Feast on my grandmother's china.

No comments:

Post a Comment