Story: Kitty’s coming home for Thanksgiving (Part 1 of 2)

The Facebook post could have been just one of the many I see on a given day. “Sweet dog needs a home.” “Do you have room in your house and heart for this pretty kitty?” They all mean well, and I often repost them. But most of my friends and relatives are full up with multiple dogs and cats. And while many would take in another pet to save a life, they’re all like me: we just don’t have the room or the resources.

But this post was written by one of Brian’s relatives: his cousin’s husband. We knew Greg’s brother Mike passed away very suddenly a few weeks previously; I could feel the grief seeping into the words on my screen. A new home was needed for Oil Slick, Mike’s cat.

“I promised a picture,” Greg wrote. “Mike would have been happy to know his cat found a loving home.” Accompanying the post was a somewhat grainy photo of a black-and-white cat on a window shelf. His haunted eyes reflected the flash from the camera.

Grain photo of cat on window shelf

“My brother’s cat named Oil Slick (because of the shape of his black fur on top of white). I promised a picture. Looking for a home for him-very friendly. He is close to 5 years old. Mike really only had him for 2 years. Mike would have been happy to know his cat found a loving home.”

I thought about reposting the picture and request and figured it probably wouldn’t work. Nobody responded to any “please adopt” note I’ve posted or forwarded or Liked. Other than the fact that Slick was very friendly, there was no “hook,” no extra-cute pose like the two dog siblings (one of whom was blind) whose picture of them hugging generated a ton of web interest and found them a home. This was a generic cat who found himself in a tough spot because his person was taken so young. He was like thousands of others. Why would my post make any difference?

I started to scroll down the page.

I tell people all the time that dogs are a lesson in hope. I never feed my dogs from the table, but Jasper is eternally hopeful that I’ll change my mind. Tucker charges full-bore at the deer just outside our yard, hoping that this time he won’t be stopped by the fence and the blank stares of animals unfazed by his barking. And Lilah hopes that the newest fuzzy catnip toy is really meant for her, picking it up with a sparkle in her eye and a sideways glance at me. And every time, I tell her to drop it. They always get the same results, but they all hope that maybe this one time it will be different.

Maybe I needed to think like a dog.

I scrolled back up. It can’t hurt, I thought. At least I can show support for Greg and his family. At least I can do this one thing for Mike. At least I can hope.

I shared the photo. “Any one of my cat-loving friends and family have room in their home and hearts for a friendly cat?”

That, I figured, was that.

Late that afternoon, my friend Hadas sent me a private message on Facebook. “Please call me at the office about the cat looking for a home.”

I met Hadas through our synagogue a little more than a year ago. Since then, we learned we have much in common. Cats. Photography. Cats. Backyard bird feeding. And cats. Hadas and her partner Colleen have a multi-cat and multi-species household like mine–though instead of dogs, they have birds. When one of their cats had kittens, I looked forward to their almost-daily updates and pictures of the tiny furballs. I would have taken one home, but we had just adopted Calvin and Elsa Clair.

My desk at work is in a row of cubes with very low walls between them; every conversation is heard by every person in the row. And the rows on either side. Instead of calling Hadas, I responded to her message with my cell phone number. “I’m at work and can’t talk. Please text.”

It turns out Colleen’s mom had recently lost two of her cats and was looking to add to her kitty family again. Maybe Oil Slick would fit in. Hadas wanted to know if he was friendly, if he was okay around other cats, if he was vaccinated. I posted those questions. The answers came back. Yes. Yes. Yes.

The next hour was a flurry of text messages, email exchanges and Facebook posts as I explained the situation to Hadas, found out more information from Greg and put the two of them in touch with each other. As Hadas learned more, she texted me, “Getting better by the minute. :-)”

If I wasn’t at work at the time, I would have jumped up from my seat and let out a wall-shaking whoop. Instead I opted for a short walk to a friend’s cube, where I whispered my hopes that maybe, just maybe I would help a cat find a new home.

I told Hadas and Greg that even though the cat was in Connecticut, we’d find a way to get him to New Jersey. Thanksgiving was a little over a week away and our son Pete was coming home to celebrate with us. Either he’d bring the cat, or Brian would head up north to visit his dad, and bring Oil Slick home. I knew Pete or Brian would come through; kind-hearted souls, they would do the right thing.

A few days later, I heard that Greg may have found a home for Slick that wasn’t so far away. As long as he finds a home, I thought, it doesn’t’ matter where.

Then I got an email; the other possibilities didn’t work out. Slick apparently hid in the rafters when one possible adoptive family came to visit.

Kitty’s coming home for Thanksgiving.

(Read more in Part 2 tomorrow.)



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