Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Allegedly we fell off it for thirty or so hours.      I was feeling a bit of vertigo setting in.  I began to wonder why, if we are  failing  falling, would we continue to fund foreign aid when we cannot fund ourselves.  My mother said it best when she would say  "Charity begins at home."   If one thinks about it, it makes more sense than the government can apparently comprehend.   If we make sure that we, ourselves, are all set, it puts us in a better position to help others, but not until then.

And so in the spirit of my mother's philosophy I have maintained my life.   There never seems to be a shortage of those needing assistance in one form or another.

Several weeks before Christmas I was in the grocery store check out line waiting, when an elderly woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me about the cat food in my grocery cart. I  knew just by looking into her eyes she was lonely, her question being an obvious, benign conversation starter.  As we talked I noticed her tired, sad eyes drifting off somewhere else while her conversation moved on to the the "problem" she was having at her home. 

She said she has a colony of feral cats that she has been feeding and doesn't know what to do to help them, and is afraid she will have kittens in the spring.   Somehow it was no surprise, if there is a cat problem it will find me. I asked her if she had anyone to help her trap them and get them to a vet.  It was then the tears slowly formed in her eyes.

No, she said, her husband just passed away this past June, and she has been alone trying to get through it.  I gave her my phone number knowing it might scare her for me to ask for hers, as she is now not only a widow, but 93 years young ( and doing her own grocery shopping though a bit weary). It took her a couple weeks to get up the nerve to call me, but call she did.  

After I had spoken to my vet who told me to scope out the cats and see what the situation was, I made arrangements to go to Ann's home.   A friend had I had asked directions from had thought it might be a mobile home park, so I picked up two bags of cat food on the way over thinking if this woman cares enough to feed stray animals, but is not in a good financial situation, she probably would need all the help she can get, but would not ask for. 

On the arranged day I made my way to the street, which turned out to be an older neighborhood, the street lined with sprawling early seventies, one story homes, hers being the second on the street, which shed a ray of hope on the situation.

No one answered the front door, so I made my way around the side of the house arriving at a two car garage.  Next to the driveway was a large oak, with a cat condo under it.  :}    She had purchased three or four , having the all lined up under the tree, with food and water bowls in front of each entrance.   Behind the cat condos as a two foot wide patch of mown lawn bordered to the rear with a heavy growth of sea grass.  As I turned to head to the back door a tiger cat flew off a tree branch and in to the sea grass. Two more were spooked by him and raced from another location too quickly to tell where they had come from, and straight into the sea grass stand.

I headed to the rear lanai where on the walkway was a small wooden picnic table with cat food bowls scattered all around it.   Not one of the animals I managed to glimpse had notched ears, appeared to be healthy, but very thin.  And I thought  how sad.    The home foreclosure rate in this region is astonishing, the job rate is down, unemployment is up, people are just leaving their homes for parts unknown, and it's kinda looking like they are leaving their animals behind with no backward glance.

I went up the two steps to the lanai to knock, but when I set the two bags of cat food I had brought down on the step I found this...

So I left her a note that I would give her a call after the holiday and we would start taking care of her cats.   My vet will be operating on the cats at cost, and will try to assist us in finding good homes for the individuals who have not lost all faith in the human race.     I will try to help Ann with the white spotted cat she is able to pat.  She would like to be able to get it into the house and keep it there with her.   

I am reminded of my father.  Having lost his daughter and wife within three months of each other, he took solace in the animals.  He would walk to the river with bread for the ducks. (Mallards, people tie the empty bread bag containers on the iron railing by the rivers edge so that everyone knows how much the ducks have been fed that day.  This does not include the french fries and misc. leftovers they glean from landing on car hoods at the local McDonald's  :}  )     On his walk home my father would pat every stray cat that would shyly peek around the corner of an alley.  He began to carry cat food in his pockets on the way to the river to give to the cats on his way home.    One particular cat began to follow him, a short way at first.  Then all the way home.  It took him a week but eventually the cat followed him into the small apartment he had gotten in the city.   He wrote, ( as at that time I was having my own health problems), that he was afraid if anything happened to him there would be no one to take his new cat and naturally I could not say no.  We already had my sister's cat.   In the end an Irish woman with a brogue like my fathers that lived across the hall took the cat when he became ill and died.  (Thank You Forever Mrs. Murphy In Laconia NH )

And soooooo, as my sister used to say, when I reflect on the farm, and Sweet Pea, the youngest most feral of the first round of ferals there,  how she came to trust humans, so much so that she now has a forever loving home, and how worth it it all was, all those ferals - and kittens we ended up with before we could trap the mothers fast enough -  that we found homes for....
I remember how good it felt.  Every time I receive new e-mails with pictures of the grown kittens , with Thank You notes for the joy they instill in their owners, when indeed I Thank them in return for saving the animals,  I know that CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME, and I will continue to help my own little corner of the world in any way I can.  
I'm thinking the government would do best if they simply started on the most basic level......
In their own back yard.


  1. Wow, what a sweet story. Let me know how it turns out.

  2. Bless you for helping that poor woman. It takes no time at all for a colony of feral cats to build up and out of control. You have a cool vet.
    When I was in dog rescue, besides the joy of seeing a throw away animal blossom with food and vet care, knowing they soon went to become part of someones family was the greatest reward. You are a good person who evidently fell close to the tree.

  3. Wonderful, heartfelt.... and you are right, it does begin at home... I think the government has lost sight of that a long time ago... or maybe never had it in their sights... too concerned w/what will happen in their own circle. Before my grandpa died, he got a puppy that was part of a litter that my Dad's gas station had taken in... he definitely was thinking ahead... My grandparents who never had a dog now had one... Aggie- Korean for 'baby' was my grandmother's friend after my grandpa died... She was sweet and fell ill and passed before my grandma did... She spoiled her rotten- heating up her food and giving her own cooked food as well... Animals help us through our time in need and we in theirs...

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog, now I return the complement. You told a nice story, even if I am not a fan of domestic cats. You are absolutely correct about our respective Governments, charity should begin at home.

  5. What a wonderful story for the new year. Helping all those cats, finding homes for as many of them as possible, and having your own beautiful creature... what a sad story for your new friend, though, having lost her husband and slowly losing her eyesight. You are a good resource for her last days.

  6. Allow me to first say that I beleive I - AT LAST - have solved my problems with commenting on other's blogs, it was a complicated chore until I went to the local GEEK who - tried - to explain it to me, gave me explicit directions when he spotted the glazed look in my eyes, and it appears I will not have to remain a LURKER any longer.... phew.

    @DJAN - I'm hoping Ann hangs around for a while, her husband was an optomitrist and she herself a botonist, really interesting to talk to once she gets past the teary parts :}

    @Kalei#39's -- You said it best - the part I forgot -- it is the animals who comfort us when all humans fail, which they seem to do frquently.... :}

    @ Patti -- We had a terrible time at the farm but saved over twenty finding homes for most, what we couldn't we still have, and they are all sweet individuals!

    @Travel Bug -- Good, bad or indifferent you will hear, I have a problem keeping my mouth shut. As Patti said I fell close to the tree, my mother NEVER kept her mouth shut..... and hardly ever got into trouble either :}}}}}

    @Phil - Oh heavens it's not just cats. I have problems with anything living, breathing and suffering. The daughter passed her Squirrel Rescue course and is now, well..... you know.... :} Two more apple that fell on the roots of the tree....

  7. oh, you are an angel for this woman! and hopefully for the cats she is trying to help!

  8. My goodness, you have a heart of gold!! I love cats, and I confess, I've fed some of our neighborhood cats that stray from their homes, into our yard. I just can't help it.

    And I hope if one day I am in the same situation as the 92 year old friend of yours, that I am the lucky one to have the help from a gal like you!!!

    You rock.

  9. Excellent message.

    My wife's 90 year old grandfather lost his wife several years ago. He was never much of a pet owner, but two years adopted a dog. They have become quite the dynamic duo.

  10. @TexWisGirl - Thank you for your faith, it's getting colder here and these poor things are thin...

    @ HOOTIN ANNI - I'm not exactly why THEY are placed in my (way) life, but Thank You so much for the compliments, I try... :}

    @ SLAM DUNK -- Hey you, back among the living Glad to hear from ya! Now get you and your family out here to help with these poor cats!!!

  11. I just get so disappointed that in the end politicians really care very little for the population :(

  12. @Introverted Art -- I say cut their salaries and stop the kick backs !!!

  13. How nice and giving you are. Not only to the cats, but the lady also. My wife is VERY involved with feral cats and rescues. GREAT story!

  14. Thank you for posting pic's of my Sweet Pea. She is doing so well. She has come to trust people and has and will always have a safe home with me.And by the way,Lucy is doing great.If not for your kindness who knows what would have become of them.Thank you Joni...G