I used to work in a two-story building built around a courtyard. It was a series of small businesses sharing the center, filled with umbrellaed tables and chairs. It was pretty easy to become friendly with colleagues in other offices; in fact, I walked at lunch with a woman in an attorney’s office, and got to know the entire staff there. Surrounding the building were acres of open fields, surrounded by other business properties and many busy suburban streets. The fields were shrubby and barren, with no source of shade or water – not too hospitable to life. But amid the brown grass and thorns, there was a struggle for life taking place.
One day my fellow office worker noticed a scraggly cat scratching around in the shrubs. The cat looked dissipated and wan, as if it was starving and barely hanging onto life. Nearby was a very young cat, possibly the daughter of the first one. After a while, she also noticed another older cat, a male, also struggling in the inhospitable terrain, so she decided to intervene. She carefully set about trying to trap the cats by enticing them with food and water, using a professional-grade trap and a ton of patience. The entire office was aware of the drama unfolding – all of us invested in saving these feral cats, and the cats just as invested in avoiding us.
Unbeknownst to us, there was an antagonist in all this: cat haters. The older female cat had evidently been impregnated, probably by the roving Tom, and delivered her kittens here and there among the office shrubs. The entire office (geologists, engineers, lawyers) were out on their hands and knees, peering about in the bushes, trying to find the kittens as the mother cat moved them. Just when we thought we knew where they were, she would move them again. Meanwhile, not content to allow us to rescue the bunch of them, the antagonists called the local animal control folks and they took the babies away – without the mother – to the pound and probable doom. All that left was the Tom, the Mom, and the little Daughter.
My colleague, Lana, was not one to give up. Bless her, she spent over $200 going to the pound and bailing out the babies, then continued to try to trap the scraggly Mom. She eventually caught the Daughter, and the Mom was not long behind her. It was in time for her to care for the young ones and get the whole bunch of them off to good homes. One of the geologists agreed to take a few of the kittens but unfortunately, his daughter proved to be allergic, so they came back onto the market. Finally, Lana kept the Mom and the kids moved in with her next door neighbor, keeping the family intact – all save the Tom. He was older, and wiser, and despite continual attempts, he alluded us. We always tried to look out for him but he was no way going to be anything but feral.
A Happy Ending
Once the Mama Kitty, as she came to be known, was given vet care (she nearly died, so it was a good thing we found her when we did,) and food and TLC, her transformation was absolutely incredible. It was like finding Sophia Loren underneath a bag lady’s layers of clothes – this was a gorgeous cat. She adapted to the indoor life and spoiling that Lana gave her and continued, as did her kids, to thrive. She never seemed to miss the outdoors – after all, it nearly spelled death for her. She was truly a princess awaiting her time to rule. Anyone that can get engineers and lawyers on their knees must have some special gift – Mama Kitty had that. She was royalty, we were her subjects. Isn’t that what cats always seem to know?
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