Many years ago a couple decided they needed at least one animal companion to share their lives. Both S., the woman, and M., the man, worked, often long hours, and traveled, so they decided they would adopt at least one cat, preferably two, to share their lives.
They headed for the Animal Rescue League in Pittsburgh and happily browsed the cats and kittens for adoption, M. finding the elegant long-haired calico Percy and the S., seeing that all Ebi’s siblings had been adopted but not her, decided to adopt the short-haired calico, and the two calicos and two people lived happily for several years.
But in the middle of the night during a July thunderstorm a few years later they awoke to hear what sounded like a baby crying outside, Percy and Ebi on the windowsill apparently watching something. They knew it had to be a cat, but on investigation outdoors that night and the next morning, no cat was found.
A week later on August 1, M., working outside in the summer afternoon, suddenly ran inside yelling, “There’s a kitten out here!”
The kitten, frightened, had run up into a neighbor’s truck and they and the neighbor tried all they could think of to lure her out, and then to gently prod her from her hiding place. Eventually it took a golf club to push her out of her spot and she jumped out, to be caught by M. and S. and quickly taken to their home.
“She was so thin, and tiny, very tiny,” S. said, “I thought she was maybe six weeks old, and she was covered with fleas.” The new kitten was bathed and fed and coddled, but went into a kennel in a separate room until she had an appointment for the veterinarian. Somehow, in that time, she went from a fostered rescued kitten to a member of the household. Rescued kittens have a way of doing that.
“The vet asked me what I was going to do with her and I said, ‘I’m keeping her!’, like, are you kidding?” S. said. “I just loved her from the beginning.”
And also somewhere in that time their little August 1 surprise acquired the name of Augie.
Augie remained tiny but was a whirlwind of play and affection, and she got along fine with her feline sisters, Percy and Ebi. And Augie not only loved her feline sisters and her humans, she loved everyone who visited, and they all loved her. She sat on everyone’s lap, and purred in complete happiness.
“She was feisty—the Christmas tree was apparently set up for her!” Augie’s mom said. “Needless to say, we left the decorations off that first year.” Nobody minded—the tree had a very special decoration.
But underlying Augie’s small size was a serious heart condition no one had suspected. “The only sign I saw, in hindsight, was that sometimes after running up the steps her breathing would be labored,” said S., “but then she would be okay. And she was so active all the time and otherwise showed no symptoms at all.”
Unfortunately, while they were at work during the day, Augie suffered a blood clot that paralyzed her hind legs and left her in horrible pain.
“We ran her to the vet, but there was nothing they could do and she was in such pain…” she trailed off.
“We left for Mexico the next day,” she added, leaving unspoken the implications of what might have happened if they had been away with a pet sitter caring for the cats when it happened. “And a bird at the resort was screaming, I still remember that,” she finished.
Augie was only about two years old.
I had done this portrait for her in 2002 shortly after she had lost Augie, but when she recounted that time again years later I could see the grief was still with her.
We talked about how sometimes, cats who need to be rescued choose the right people to find them, and those who end up having a very short life seem to make the most of the brief time they have. And they leave so much of themselves behind, all the love and memories. Certainly Augie did.
I’ll soon feature the portrait and talk about all three of the cats, and choosing a very special pose for Augie. Here is Percy, Ebi and Augie’s page in 2010-2011 Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book, soon to be released as a day book and journal to be enjoyed at any time.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.