I’d intended to write up a little rescue story from the mid-80s and to illustrate the story I wanted to photograph the spot where I found and rescued the kitten, but every time I go past the lighting is bad, there’s a motorcycle parked there, or some other impediment that gets in the way of a photo that will illustrate how close this kitten was to traffic. So this week I’ve decided to share a story from a couple and their next door neighbor who we helped with TNR, originally published in 2014. Cat people always have stories to share, and I love to pay them forward. I’ll have to swing by this house and see how things are, and if they did end up adopting…
Cats Know Who to Choose
Kittens are popping up everywhere, literally, out from under the deck and appearing through cracks in walls, and while it sounds cute it’s only early June and foster homes are full already. But kind people request help to capture them and their moms to get them to safety, and if a foster home is available or the cats can go back outside we’ll bring them in, spay and neuter them and give them their beginning vaccines in preparation for a forever home.
I went this evening to visit someone in a community very near me who had contacted the rescue organization about a mother cat and five kittens who were climbing into the basement of her neighbor’s house through a cracked foundation wall which will soon be repaired. She and the home owner and I did not see a single feline but they told me about the little family, I did see the damaged area and we made plans to trap and treat them as necessary.
But people who go out of their way for cats typically have cats of their own as well, and, of course, stories. Because cats know who is a sucker and who will eventually give in, they just sit out on the porch looking into a window with the sad kitty look as if they just don’t understand why these humans are so dense. Then when they do get in they aren’t at all thankful but are ready to be spoiled for the inconvenience of having had to live outdoors and act as if the house and everything in it is theirs by right and privilege. In this case the home owner where the cats are to be rescued did not have cats but cares deeply for the safety of these cats, it was her next-door neighbor who was the one with the connections—and two cats, and stories.
About four years ago the couple went away for just a long weekend. Three days had passed and when they returned a long-haired gray adult cat was sitting on their back porch surprised they’d been gone so long, and ready to come in the door with them. This was not their cat, or a cat they’d ever seen, but the cat would have none of this amnesia by the humans, he obviously belonged in that house.
They attempted to ignore him, but he was always clearly visible from a kitchen window, especially when he hopped up onto the air conditioning unit in the window and looked inside with shock and dismay that he was, indeed, still outdoors.
Only a few days of this brought the husband of this couple outside to offer food to the cat, and soon he was picking the cat up and cuddling him. They began calling him Ratatouille because the cat’s long gray fur was knotted and needed to be groomed and they could not even begin to brush the cat. The man was clearly smitten with this cat, and the cat had no intentions to look elsewhere for a fitting domain after making this much progress.
His wife reminded him that he was the one who had set a limit on two cats in the household, and that limit had been reached. Because the cat now expected to come in the house it was unfair to leave him out, and he was such a nice cat he should be able to find another home if possible. She gave her husband an ultimatum: take the cat to the vet, or to the shelter. Going to the vet obviously meant keeping the cat, to the shelter meant they would not. It was his decision.
Ratatouille went to the vet.
But he was a she! And she was about three years old and not spayed. So they had her spayed, and had her knotted gray tresses shaved so they could start with grooming her when they got her home, and began calling her Touille (Tooey) for short.
And of course she’s a princess, but she never grew accustomed to grooming and so has to be shaved two or three times a year. Her people have decided they are going to start purchasing enough of the proper grooming equipment to do it themselves. What length will we go for our kitties?
. . . . . . .
They moved in the house about 25 years ago and the plan, once they had a home of their own, was to go to the shelter and adopt a dog and a cat, and they’d be a complete family. But the husband pointed out their long hours and said it would probably be too difficult for a dog, though a cat would probably be okay with it. His wife said then they would get two cats, it only made perfect sense. Her husband didn’t think it did, but they’d moved in during April and by June she went to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and adopted two kittens. The next year they screened in the front porch so the cats could have a safe place to enjoy the outdoors.
Those two kittens are gone now, and one of the cats adopted after them was a Siamese named Manny who the wife chose though she had had an unpleasant experience with a Siamese cat in the past, but there he was at the Humane Society and she knew she had to take him home. He is very affectionate and playful, not at all like her former experience.
Of the other cats they’ve adopted, including Touille, it seems the husband was the one who was most easily hooked by cats in need. He was not a cat person at first, but after the first adoption of two kittens he was completely on board. When they had lost one of those original kittens about ten years ago a friend told them about a big friendly black cat who was living in a parking lot near her and said they ought to meet him. She packed up the cat and brought him over, and as soon as she let him out of the carrier in the house the husband scooped him up and held him like a baby. The cat purred and nipped him on the cheek. It was “love at first bite”. Minx stayed. He was the heart cat for both of them, very intelligent and sensitive, greeting people at the door, affectionate and demanding. They unexpectedly lost him last summer at age 10, though, and clearly it still hurt. He will be a cat who is not easily forgotten.
Those were some very lucky cats, and some very lucky humans. And from what I’ve heard from others, their experiences are not uncommon, having been adopted by cats.
And let’s hope we can get the little family into a safe place and socialized. Who knows? Someone tonight had her eye on the little black kitten with the white paws.
. . . . . . .
About the artwork
I painted “A Nap on the Feed Sacks” in 1994 from a photo a co-worker gave me from her farm. “Cuddled together for comfort, these kittens live on a farm owned by a friend of mine. She passed the picture on to me because she thought I’d like it, which I did immediately. The scene was so simple and quiet that I decided to render it as a quick study, without too much detail, so that I wouldn’t overwork the subjects.” That’s what I had to say about it when I added it to my portfolio book in 1994. I sold it shortly after I painted it to someone who purchased a half dozen small works to auction off for a rescue benefit. You can read more about it in A Nap on the Feed Sacks.
Read more of my stories from decades of rescuing and fostering cats, with a few from other rescuers mixed in Rescue Stories.
Help me illustrate, anthologize and publish my poetry, rescue stories and essays.
I’d love to publish an anthology of my own rescue stories entitled, What Are the Chances? featuring this story, and others including the element of pure chance at finding a cat in need. This anthology and others are on my list of Patreon projects because it would take place over time, and support through Patreon would help to support me while I worked. You can read about it here or visit my Patreon page.
Art and Gifts Featuring Cats You Know!
Great Rescues Day Book:
Portraits, Rescue Stories, Holidays and Events, Essential Feline Information, All in One Book
Each month features one of my commissioned portraits of a feline or felines and their rescue story along with a kitty quote on the left page, and on the right page the month name with enough lines for all possible dates, with standard holidays and animal-themed observances and events. Great Rescues also includes a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings including information on finding strays or orphaned kittens, adopting for the first time or caring for a geriatric cat, a list of household toxins and toxic plants, or helping stray and feral cats and beginning with TNR.
Each book includes also 10 sheets of my “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits in black and white so you can make your own notes or write special notes to friends.
The portraits in this book, collected as a series, won both a Certificate of Excellence and a Muse Medallion in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Annual Communication Contest, as well as the 22 Cats Notepaper mentioned below.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun! —