After my youngest daughter left for college, I removed the “City Zoo Annex” sign from my front door and heaved a sigh of relief. I was sure the snakes, exotic birds, horses, dwarf bunnies, ferrets and all other creatures great and small were gone for good. So when her college years in Austin, Texas came to a close and she called to say she and a friend had rented one of those rickety trucks and were making the final drive back home together, I was not prepared for her offhanded remark at the end of the conversation-something about returning with a rescued dog. Okay, I told myself. I can handle a dog.
Three days later they arrived in the middle of a dinner party I was hosting on the back porch. Much to my horror, the “rescued dog” turned out to be three rescued dogs and one hot cat.
What do you mean you sort of rescued the cat? I stammered in front of my guests (all city hall employees, including a special assistant to the mayor). My daughter’s reply was not what I expected after years of investing in her college education: “I stole her from my neighbor. She was the last thing we packed in the truck before we took off.”
As I struggled to catch my breath and make a gracious recovery in front of my guests, she quickly explained that the cat, whose name was Marley, actually had adopted her. (My daughter has always had a way with words.) “Really, mom. Those neighbors abused every animal they ever got. Left their dogs chained outside without food or water. Poor Marley is only three and she has had seven litters! All her kittens have died or become strays. She had her last litter on my front porch. I took them in, fed them, found homes for the kittens. I nursed her back to health and had her spayed. The vet had to remove some of her teeth and he says she has heart and kidney problems from all those pregnancies. I couldn’t leave her with those irresponsible people, could I? Look at her, mom. She’s so happy now, she never stops purring…”
All the faces turned to me. Yes, she assured me, she had notified the Austin Animal Control, but they were swamped and couldn’t be sure when they could come around and look into it.
My dinner guests helped me re-hang the dusty zoo annex sign on the front door, this time making it official with a seal from city hall. And Marley? She spent the rest of her life living on my bed, jumping down only for her meals and trips to the litter box. And when I moved to the country, she moved right along with me. But in the end, all those pregnancies took a toll on her little body. At ten, toothless and with failing kidneys, she died in my daughter’s arms. Still purring until her last breath.
There are so many litters of kittens available for adoption right now. If you have room in your heart, please help. Contact the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation if you are interested in adoption, fostering or making a tax deductible donation for medicine, surgery, spaying, neutering or food. Help our animals find happy, responsible homes.
Courtsey of Audrey Thomasson