In June 2008 a neighbor rang my doorbell. She was holding a tiny, hissing, clawing, biting and terrified kitten caught in her garage. She had to wear welding gloves just to handler her.
I had just lost one of my four cats whom I’d had more than 15 years. Two more were in ill health, and my own mother was in the hospital. I didn’t want to take on any more responsibility. But when my neighbor told me that her father would kill the kitten, I had no choice but to give her shelter, at least for the night. We put the kitten in a very large carrier and gave her food and water – she was ravenous! She hunched up as far back into the corner as she could possibly go. I laid on a blanket next to the carrier for about an hour, sometimes speaking to her softly but mostly just being still and quiet. She finally drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, I went to check on the kitten. When I opened the door to refill the food – she bolted. I couldn’t find her, but I could hear her terrified little mews somewhere in my garage. I had to leave for work, but left food, water and fresh litter for her. Throughout the day I made calls to try and find a solution. I didn’t think she was adoptable and feared that if I took her to a shelter she’d be euthanized. I decided that I could have her spayed and let her live outdoors, so at least there wouldn’t be more wild, homeless kitties. When I got home I still couldn’t find her, but heard her every so often. I borrowed a humane trap and within ten minutes of setting it up heard the hungry and scared little girl meowing loudly. She was in the trap.
After getting her spayed I set up a large crate for her in a spare bedroom. I decided I’d give her a week. If I still couldn’t get close to her I would release her and care for her from a distance. A few days into this I let one of my cats approach her. When the little kitten, who I named “Raider,” saw another cat she perked up and started purring very loudly. It was as though a huge weight had been lifted from her. Soon she let me touch her (in exchange for food), and later she would crawl into my lap and purr like crazy. She was still timid, but slowly became part of our household.
That summer was a sad and difficult one. In less than four months three of my four cats and my mother passed away. With so much illness and loss around me it was nice to have this young cat in the house. In the middle of all this, one day I found Raider and my then-16-year-old cat Malcolm cuddled up together. She was grooming him. It was obvious that he needed her, and that she brought something great to both of us.
Raider seemed to be a thriving, robust, healthy young cat. But one day when I came home from work it was Malcolm who came to greet me, not Raider, who was usually first. I looked down the hallway and saw her lying on the floor. As I got closer, I knew she was gone. She looked as though she’d just found a sunny spot on the floor and went to sleep. I was absolutely hysterical and heartbroken.
She had shown absolutely no indication of being sick. In fact, we’d played with toys together before I left for work that morning. A necropsy at my vet’s revealed nothing wrong with her organs; his opinion was that it was something neurological and probably nothing I could have anticipated. She was a little over two years old.
If I had known on that first night how things would turn out, that I would invest an incredible amount of time, patience and love into this beautiful little cat and that just when she really learned to trust me and blossomed into a smart, funny, loving girl, I would lose her after only two years… I still would have taken her in. She was an incredible cat, and she brought me a great amount of joy. She took care of Malcolm and brought a good energy to our home at a time when all we had was loss and sadness. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.