Diary of a Reluctant Cat Rescuer

Charles Darwin quote: The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.

Guest blog by Frank Weaver

“So first, your memory I’ll jog,
And say: A CAT IS NOT A DOG.”
~ T.S. Eliot, ‘The Ad-dressing of Cats’
from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Perhaps it is due to a defect in my character, but the company of animals has for me often been preferable to that of human beings. Not that I am any sort of misanthrope. I like people, and get along well with practically all of them. It’s just that I find the complex machinations of the human mind—how to read it, how to respond to it, what to make of it—quite exhausting at times. Whereas the instincts, behaviors, and personalities of most animals lie much more at the surface, readily accessible if not always understood. Their innocence is profoundly appealing, and thus dealing with them is just easier for someone like me.

So yes, I love animals, all of them. I daresay, they tend to love me back most of the time. And how could it be otherwise?—given that my namesake saint is most famous for his inspiring rapport with birds and every other beast.

St. Francis with the Animals

Saint Francis with the Animals by Lambert de Hondt / Willem van Herp

Among all these “lesser” creatures, though, my own strongest natural rapport has always been with those of the canine family. Dogs “get” me, and I get them. Even the ones shyest of strangers seem to cotton to me right away. Dog owners who invite me into their home, expecting company, will be sorely disappointed: they are more likely to find me communing with the family pet than engaging in conversation with my hosts or fellow guests.

But cats? Meh, not so much. Truth be told, with two or three exceptions my relationship with cats all my life has been, shall we say, “fraught.” No doubt the blame is all on me: I probably wish cats to act more like dogs, which of course they absolutely will not stand for, repaying me at best with a cold shoulder or, at worst, a swipe of their claws. Whatever the reason, then, sharing my personal space with animals of the feline persuasion has always been regrettably low on my list of priorities.

But then one summer….

DAY 1

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi

The feral cat that I have noticed skulking around the dumpster these last few days seems to have gotten used to me: she (at least I assume it is a “she”) no longer scurries away to hide the moment I make my presence known.

I live upstairs from a fine dining restaurant, so no doubt some of the less disgusting aromas wafting from the dumpster would prove an enticement to any ravenous beast in search of a meal. She stares at me a moment, then stares back at the dumpster, obviously intent on devising some plan to storm its delightful precincts, and thus therein feast.

It is a sweltering mid-July day. Taking pity on the poor creature, I put out a bowl of cold water, then go about my day’s business. When I return, the cat is nowhere in sight. To my immense satisfaction, however, the water bowl is empty.

DAY 2

“Before a Cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend,
Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream;
And you might now and then supply
Some caviare or Strassburg pie…”
~ T.S. Eliot, ‘The Ad-dressing of Cats’
from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

The cat no longer even pretends to be interested in the dumpster. This morning, the moment I stepped outside she galloped right up to me, fixed her gaze on my face, and began mewing piteously. What else could I do but fetch her a bowl of milk and a chunk of tuna from a freshly opened can?

Blondie the cat

Granted, this humble repast was nothing so fancy as caviare or pie; but I think it hit the spot for her.

“If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.”
~ Mother Teresa

Do felines count as people? For all I know, she may be God in disguise. In any case, I am taking no chances.

Note to self: Purchase a supply of proper cat food. Spare no expense.

DAY 3

“The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.”
~ T.S. Eliot, ‘The Naming of Cats’
from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Serving the cat breakfast this morning, I can see now she is not feral at all. True, she’s not wearing a collar, which means there is no I.D. tag that would give me a clue as to where she belongs. On the other hand, her ribs aren’t showing, she’s not sick or injured, nor does her lovely yellow coat look sufficiently unkempt for a stray. More than likely she is a recent runaway; or she may simply have been abandoned by her owner.

Which is inconceivable to me: she has the most gorgeous, glorious, golden eyes I have ever seen in a cat. What soulless monster could ever think of abandoning such beauty?

I have named her Blondie.

Blondie the cat

DAY 4

“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”
~ Rumi

After an exhaustive search at Craig’s List and various local pet-related message boards, my best efforts at finding the rightful owner of Blondie Dorothea (yes, she now has a second name) have come up empty. No reports of a missing cat match her description. Not even close.

Now the conundrum: what to do with this homeless starveling whom I have befriended—some would say bribed—with blandishments of food and drink? Against all odds and my past experience with cats, the dear thing has taken quite a shine to me. She constantly rubs up against my ankles when I am around, and she now lets me pet her and even rub her tummy. Her claws remain sheathed.

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty. Human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

Blondie the cat

And clearly the feeling is growing increasingly mutual. Honestly, I am quite smitten. By tomorrow, most assuredly, I will be hopelessly in love with this cat.

The temptation to take her in myself is almost irresistible. Unfortunately, my apartment does not allow pets. So there’s that. And anyway, my two sons are highly allergic to cat dander, so they would never be able to visit me again.

Unless the owner turns up out of the blue, I may have no alternative but to call the SPCA and hope they can find her a proper home. It shouldn’t be too hard to do. As cats go, she really is so very affectionate, and quite astonishingly beautiful.

It breaks my heart that I can’t have her.

DAY 5

“When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”
~ Mark Twain

Blondie Dorothea O’Hare (ah-ha, her third name!) is in luck. Last night this cat so enchanted a young lady at the outside bar of the restaurant downstairs that she decided then and there to adopt the darling creature. So she, her friend, and I attempted together to capture Blondie and get her in their car for transport to a new, welcoming home.

What ensued was something out of the Three Stooges, with the four of us (Blondie included) circling the restaurant at high speed, climbing walls, hopping fences, and crawling in the dirt. Alas, to no avail—despite having consumed prodigious quantities of wine in order to sharpen our wits and strengthen our fortitude. Though we came close on several occasions, the clever cat evaded us every time. Even the usual blandishments of food failed to lure her into the safety of my loving arms. Which by this time were literally bleeding from a small mishap on one of the aforementioned walls.

Blondie the cat

Yet this morning Blondie acted as if nothing untoward had happened last night, approaching me for her customary tickle and chow. But just you wait. I now have at my disposal a large have-a-heart trap, which I will use to secure the cat on behalf of her new prospective owner. Stay tuned!

DAY 6

“What greater gift than the love of a cat?”
~ Charles Dickens

At last I am happy to report that Blondie Dorothea O’Hare is on her way to a proper home. Through a fortuitous chain of events, I had found someone willing to take her in. The trick, though, was capturing and safely transporting her to said home. The previous attempt last night could only be described as a fiasco.

This morning, however, armed with a borrowed have-a-heart trap and a scrumptious bowl of wet food, I set my snare. Famished, Blondie sniffed at the food inside the cage, but refused to enter. The internal battle between suspicion and starvation raged on for a while, but finally hunger overcame fear. She stepped diffidently inside the cage, edging slowly but ever closer to the delicious feast just inches away. Then WHAM! Her paw pressed down on the trip pan, the trapdoor sprang shut, and she was caught.

Blondie the cat

With the cat safely interned (such pitiful wailing!), I ran upstairs to make a phone call. Minutes later, my kind confederate of the previous evening arrived to remove the cat-in-a-cage from the parking lot and transport her to a new, safe, and secure domicile, where she will be happy and flourish and be loved, world without end, amen.

I will miss my sweet Blondie.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
~ Anatole France

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