Once again I find myself in Colorado visiting Dad while in the midst of record breaking weather. The Deep Freeze temps that usually occur during the National Western Stock Show in January have arrived earlier this year. Family and friends are beginning to joke about my visits bringing crazy weather; first the 1000 year flood and now this. If this keeps up, those same friends and family might not be so happy to hear of any further visits I’ll be making!
The unseasonably bitter cold has brought out concerns for the neighborhood stray cat where my brother and sister-in-law live. It seems there is this kitty who was once a beloved house cat, living an indoor life in a home just kitty corner (!) from my brother and sister-in-law. This lovely feline had an adoring owner who passed on about three years ago. Kitty’s inherited owner took no interest in claiming her, causing Kitty to become an unwilling outdoor cat.
As with most strays, she makes her daily rounds; surviving better than most because of her winning personality and because her territory is within a nice neighborhood. According to my brother, she is the perfect stray to take in and call your own. Kitty has tried to adopt various humans, but with little success. Mostly because she is technically someone else’s pet. In the case of my brother and sister-in-law, they accepted Kitty’s offer at one time, trying to incorporate her into the family. Unfortunately, the household’s menagerie of permanent and semi-permanent pets didn’t accept Kitty into their gang.
So adopting Kitty was not an option.
They, along with others in the neighborhood, continue to do what they can to help. In addition to food and water, they provide a little cat shelter and pet her as she makes her rounds.
But that is all they can do. The cat is not theirs and the inherited owner still doesn’t care for it.
Throw away animals are everywhere. Yet how much can any single person really do when confronted with such a one? Basically, not ignore the need. Help alleviate it if even minutely. Since nothing long term can really be done that would benefit the individual animal directly, helping in the moment is truly constructive.
While a lot of parallels can be drawn from this into the state of the human condition, I will save those for another posting.
Rather, this story of Kitty reminds me of another kitty, who lived in a different town, within another supportive neighborhood named Tripod.
A vignette written during yet another uncertain time of transition for us during our between-homes journey, I believe the message is relevant both then and now…from-Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
September 2010 (North Webster, IN)
As I was going on my morning walk trying to sort/pray through all the serious issues that have been coming at us full speed, with greater and greater intensity, a boy of about age ten seemed to jump out of nowhere and started to walk alongside me. I asked, “Home schooled?” to which he answered, “Yes, I’m on a break.”
As we were walking amicably in step together, he pointed back to the place among the bushes where he had been and asked, “Have you ever seen that cat?”
“Well, there certainly are a lot of cats around here!” I replied and to my delight, he laughed along with me on my dumb joke of a response.
He persisted, “Me and the kids around here have been playing with him all summer. I don’t know his real name, but he responds to Tripod cause that’s what we’ve all been calling him. He’s got only three legs you see.”
I’m enjoying my little walk-talk with this kid, so I am happy that he continues to speak his mind without much encouragement on my part. Turns out, he has a very important idea that he’s trying out on me for size before asking his parents.
“I’ve been thinking about where this cat will be living for over the winter. His owners are Mr. and Mrs. Smith in that house by the bushes, and they don’t take good care of him. So I was thinking about how we have a ‘cat tree’ in our garage we don’t use anymore and maybe if I ask Mr. and Mrs. Smith real nice, they’ll let me set up a little space for Tripod in our garage with the door up a bit for him to come in out of the cold whenever he needs to.”
We were getting close to his house, so I say, “Good luck with your proposal!” and wave goodbye to him as he walks back into his home with a jaunty kid-step.
Struggling to contain my tears throughout the remainder of my walk, I realize the message spoken to me through this big hearted Indiana boy:
“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds (cares for) them. Are you not worth much more than they?” Matthew 6:26