For the love of Cats

Today I woke early. Small, hungry meows bellowed from my almost two-year old tortoiseshell cat. Her mouth filled with saliva, anticipating the high quality canned cat food that I buy her. She licked her lips then my arm in hopes I’d wake that instant to feed her. She purred loudly, but waited patiently. Me waking up was the only way she’d feed her hungry tummy.

I rubbed my eyes and pet her soft fur, then watched as she raced down the stairs. She had won.

It’s a privilege to feed your pet, not just a responsibility. But today was different feeding my sweet ball of fur named Katniss.

Once I set her Nature’s Variety Instinct, salmon-flavored wet food in a raised glass dish near her water and dry food dish, I noticed another beautiful creature outside. I’ve seen her before, but never have I seen her out and about this early in the morning. Usually she roams about at night.

She was a mirror image of my Katniss. A young “tortie,” wild and free lurking by the trees. She seemed so calm. When she was a kitten, I tried to catch this kitty and her orange tabby companion. I wish I would have tried harder back then to catch her because now she is much bigger, and perhaps more wild.

Before winter we found one of her brothers. A small gray kitten hidden inside a car. It meowed for his orange tabby cat mother, but we never saw her around for days. We knew there were kittens in the yard under a drain, but nobody could ever get to them. We’d all just leave food and water for them and their mother. How this little kitten got a few yards away, I’ll never know.

We cleaned that little gray kitten up. Got him some food, water, and toys. He loved catnip and began to trust human hands. He went to a loving home…success! We were able to save that kitten, but how do you capture a young, adult stray…I mean feral kitty? And does she even want to be captured? So, I thought. What can I do. What’s the one thing both stray, feral, and pet cats love, and that us humans can provide for them? Food. I raced outside like the crazy cat lady I am, carrying a can of food with me.

She saw me and I had her attention. Such a beautiful cat. I opened the can, the noise keeping her from running off. The noise that makes Katniss run from any room in the house to the kitchen. I set it on the ground and walked back inside. I watched from the window both my Katniss inside and her mirror image outside. Different places, yet both the same. Torties, but also cats. I then realized a bigger picture.

You don’t need to necessarily “capture” this beauty, but rather like everything and everyone you encounter, leave them in a better condition then when you first saw them. If I can feed this outdoor kitty, who may not have eaten anything in awhile, then that is pure joy in itself. You cannot change everything. You can’t fix everything. You just have to look at the bright side and be kind. Offer your kindness to everyone and every living thing. Don’t turn your cheek on stray cats, or even feral cats. I learned my lesson with feral cats the hard way, but at least I showed my kindness and can prove it with my three inch scar. But this outdoor kitty, I’d term a stray, a community kitty.

Neighbors I’ve talked to have tried also to capture these kitties before, to spay and neuter them, and find them homes, but none have had success, at least not on her. Last year it was the orange tabby, this one’s mother. And now with spring coming, it’s only a matter of time before this tortie has babies. You may be asking, how do I know this tortie is a female? Fun fact, most tortie cats ARE female, very rarely are there male torties. Genetics.

If only we could control this. Are we suppose to control this? I think yes. Some if not all of this is our human fault. People drop cats off all the time to different places. Barns are a different story, but a large apartment community? I suppose we are in the country, technically, with a barn and field surrounding our apartment lot.

This is a problem that i wish could be fixed overnight, but sadly it cannot. I cannot run out there and magically pick up that beautiful, plump tortie. Some realities we just have to face. But if that cat is in my viewing area, I will always go out and feed her. And now just as I was about to finish this story, there is the orange kitty companion, strutting down the sidewalk as if it’s another normal day. Oh, how to fix this. Until then, don’t turn the other way. You never know who or what may need your help, and you never know what kind of joy they may bring you. For the love of cats, show kindness to those in need, but accept what we cannot change. Never give up on trying. It’s called compassion, and it makes us human.

An act of kindness: “You get more flies with honey”

My mother always told me, “You get more flies with honey.” I never understood it when I was young, because she would always say it when I was “misbehaving.” But soon, I understood what she meant and did one act of kindness in particular that was the best thing I’d ever done in my life. She was trying to tell me, in simple terms, do everything with kindness. Be sweet with your words and actions, and like honey, you attract more kindness.

Here’s how it started, my act of kindness. One day when I was about sixteen, and while at a family gathering, I noticed a little five year old girl running around getting on everyone’s nerves, except mine. Her black, curly hair in braids and twirling around with her as she played uncontrollably. I asked my mom, “Why does nobody like her?” She replied, “It’s not that, it’s because she misbehaves and has no self-control.”

Self-control? I thought. What five year old has self control? Anyway, I took her outside and began playing with her. All eyes were on me, as if I had no idea what I was getting myself into. When she giggled uncontrollably at having someone to give her attention, I let her run in the grass. Of course, she did not have self-control, I soon learned, but there was something about her that I just fell in love with. That same day, after we went home, my mom got a phone call from the little girl’s mother asking if we would like to babysit her. To my surprise, my family said, “No.”

It’s a good thing I overheard my mom, because I called out, “I’ll watch her!” and my mom said, “Okay, Heather will watch her.” So, she came over and ran like a crazy five year old with no self-control. After that, I soon learned how much she and her mother needed me in their lives. Everyone goes through things, and it’s better to have someone, just one person, to care. This was my lesson to my mom.

Katrina, the sweetest little girl in my world, who will always remain that cute little five year old, soon came to live with my family while her mom got back on her feet. I was still in high school, and my mother worked from six in the morning until six at night, having no time to take care of a five year old. But once she saw what I saw, and my whole family saw it too, they all pitched in. We didn’t have a lot of things for her at first, so she slept with me for a while, and even after we got her a bed, she would still sleep with me. There was already three of us girls living together, so it was kind of perfect for a little five year old to have three other girls to look up to. Since I was the oldest and had my drivers license, I took Katrina to Kindergarten every day. I would get up early, feed her, and get her to school, then get myself to school. My sisters helped out, too. Kindness really is like honey. It’s sweet, and can attract more things.

For a year, she lived with us. It was the best year of my life. It was like having a cute little sister around all the time. Everyone was soon falling in love with her. She loves doing puzzles, coloring, playing with cars, playing in the snow, finding Easter eggs, SHE LOVES CHOCOLATE, and she has the best personality. She learned many essential things that year that I’m proud to say I helped her and her mother with. I taught her, and she taught me. I’m also proud to say that she was able to move back with her mother and now lives with her permanently. Those kinds of stories melt my heart. When people are in need and one person cares enough, it can make all the difference in their world. This one act of kindness not only changed my life and my heart, but also my family’s as they love her just as much as I do. And that’s all it takes to “get more flies with honey.”