Just about a year ago to the day I looked at Kelly and decided her story needed to be told for my Tuesday rescue story. Just two weeks after we’d lost Cookie, Kelly and I were finally feeling comfortable with being at our desk without her, Kelly settling on my lap for her bath, having it all to herself for the first time in her life. I felt very close to my last senior girl, she so timid but loving and friendly; I had a sense we didn’t have long, though I didn’t realize how brief that would be, and I knew I wanted to focus attention on Kelly from myself and my readers, and most importantly to tell the story of a kitty whose journey was long, confusing and often painful, and needed to be shared.
After telling many others’ rescue stories through the years, I sat down with Kelly intending to write the usual post outlining the highlights of her rescue knowing I’d tell more some time later, calling it, and intending it to be, “A Little Bit About Kelly”. Little did I know that even that “little bit” would grow into a five-part series, each part written with Kelly sitting attentive on my lap, very much a part of the process.
Kelly’s health was failing through February and March for reasons I never determined physically, though I could sense her emotional landscape. With Cookie she had lost the last of all her lifelong feline friends, the ones who had encouraged her to blossom and trust, much like “the last rose of summer” for which Irish poet Thomas Moore had named his poem in 1805, very soon put to music and popularized as a song, telling of finding a single rose left blooming while all others have faded, leaving “no flower of her kindred” to share her thoughts and memories.
In the poem he decides to scatter the rose’s petals so that she may join her mates; I decided to scatter Kelly’s petals as a story so that this little cat’s journey be remembered by others so that she would not be forgotten, and hopefully to inspire others to give a frightened kitty a chance to learn to love and trust on her own terms. I have adapted the title for Kelly’s story from a image in the poem, comparing your life’s friends as a circle of gems, and you a part of that circle. I’m so glad Kelly finally felt herself a member of that circle, and shone and sparkled with the rest.
As I wrote out Kelly’s story with her on my lap, I also found other needs in her and changed her diet and found a daily routine that suited her needs at that point in her life, and she turned around from her lethargy, began eating again and we enjoyed our last few months.
Though I had posted the last chapter in the series of stories at the end of March 2012, I knew as I was writing and discovering all the lessons within it that Kelly’s story should be a book that would also help other cats like her, strays and ferals on the street, frightened in the shelter, timid in homes with humans, but finally learning, obviously, from other cats to let herself trust and enjoy her life. Readers also asked that it be published as a book.
The five parts I published were each the first and only drafts as I felt an insistence to get Kelly’s story “on paper”, intentionally brief for publishing here, hardly ready for publishing as a book. In early summer I put them all together as chapters and began fleshing out the story with more detail, looking back though my years of cat health records, researching photos and planning illustrations and putting together a little book.
I had been hoping to finish this while Kelly was still with me, but her health changed near the end of summer and I lost her August 11, 2012. Taking that into account I decided to give Kelly’s story some time, knowing I’d find even richer details as I recalled her life with me, and so I have, like the title itself which eluded me until just recently as I look back at that household of felines, all those colorful gems and the shining circle of love they represent to both Kelly and me.
I am continuing to work on Kelly’s story and hope to have it done by summer. I am planning a print version and an e-version, of course, and also an audio version. And because so much of what I convey through Kelly is visual the photos and illustrations are an important part of each of these versions, and I am learning as I go.
In the meantime enjoy my favorite photo of Kelly, and below that the original introduction to the series “A Little Bit About Kelly” and a link to the series of stories here on The Creative Cat. I’ll surely keep you up to date as things progress.
It’s about time we told little Kelly’s story! She’s been a part of this home since 1997, joining us along with Namir as fosters from a person who was traveling to California for graduate studies and hoped to take them at some point but never found stable enough housing before we decided they belonged here.
This is the fictional portion of little Kelly’s rescue story, the part no one really knows but her. I’ve pieced it together from observing the arrivals of many other young kitties who have found themselves a member of a stray and feral cat colony in an urban setting, and included as much of Kelly’s innate personality as I guess would have influenced her activities.
On that note, I make reference to Kelly talking and mumbling and explaining. It is one of the most endearing things about Kelly, for all her timid and cautious nature she is one of the most talkative cats I’ve ever known. She always has something to say, either simple remark or a complete sentence. She’s quite the storyteller, and talks not only to me but to herself as she goes about her daily activities.That’s why this story is told in her voice.
Pieced together from long-ago records, we do know what Kelly was found with a stray and feral colony in an abandoned building in Oakland, near Pittsburgh, in the midst of several colleges and universities, so it was assumed she’d been adopted by a college student and either escaped or been abandoned, or was born to a cat who had been.
Kelly has been the sweet, quiet presence you don’t see as often as her more outgoing housemates. I’ve long tried to condense her story, but decided that didn’t do justice to a kitty who’s been through a lot. Because her story is long and involves details of the story of a stray and feral colony along with Kelly’s own long path toward learning to trust humans, I’ll be telling it in several parts over the next few weeks for my Tuesday rescue feature. She has traveled a great emotional and spiritual distance to be the kitty you see today, and who is right now curled in a happy purring ball on my lap, head turned upside down and hugging all her legs together.
Read the original series:
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
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