“Well congratulations, now you’re a cat mom.”
This was a comment a stranger left on a Facebook post of mine over break, one where I was advertising the adoption of a stray cat I came across a few days before.
The cat, a skinny gray male with barely any muscle on his bones, came up to me in the hallway of my apartment building.
I heard the meows from out in the hall and thought it was one of the cats I already have having some issues. But after finding all three of them, it was obvious that wasn’t true, so I opened my front door and immediately ran in this tiny, freezing cat.
I couldn’t keep him inside; with three other cats (two boys and one girl), I had no idea if he was sick or was going to hurt them, so I quickly picked him up and scooped him back outside.
He was the most loving cat I have ever seen. He rubbed up against my friend and I’s legs as we stood in my hallway apartment, cold and debating what to do.
“Jessica, four cats is crazy; it’s too much, you can’t,” my friend said, practically begging me not to do this to myself.
She was right. Living on a college income with three cats and trying to hold down four jobs was not easy and not something that made me a good cat mom. Besides, when I rescued my third cat earlier this year from being sent to a shelter, my other cats did not enjoy it.
How could I possibly introduce a fourth cat into my tiny apartment, and another male for that matter?
Yet, what could I do? I gave him water and some food. I got a towel and wiped him off so he was no longer freezing and covered in melted snow. But none of this felt like enough.
“You could leave him in the hallway so he isn’t cold, and someone else can come and help him,” my friend suggested. But even that felt like I was relying too much on the goodness of others, and I knew after living in this apartment building for a year that if this cat kept meowing like he was, he was going to get himself forced out of the building, not helped by a good Samaritan.
I had to be the good Samaritan.
I had a crisis of faith for a while, remembering how hard and stressful it was for me when I rescued my third cat. Determined to give this new one up for adoption, I decided to take him inside and keep him safe until I could find him a forever home.
That was when I made that post, asking anyone if they were interested in taking this perfect loving cat and taking care of him, when a total stranger commented that now he was my responsibility.
At first, I was annoyed; I was already a cat mom and couldn’t possibly take in another cat full-time. When I told her I already had three, so being a cat mom wasn’t new to me, she got angry.
“Why don’t you just take care of him yourself then?”
Well, for a thousand reasons, ones that were unfair to him, my other cats and to myself. I wanted more than anything to keep this cat, and I even tried to avoid getting attached by naming him something ridiculous — I named him Toaster.
Yet, no one seemed willing to take him, and all the shelters were completely full in the area or didn’t accept cats at all.
The whole system can seem to be rigged against animals like this, especially as the temperature gets colder. It’s hard not to think about the difficulties that it could bring to your life and the money it will cost you.
However, in this situation, the options are that I lose money and pick up extra articles to make ends meet, or this animal dies.
That’s the reality for strays and throwaway animals this time of year, and the burden falls heavily on those who are willing to take the first step. There are almost no people like that anymore.
There's no lesson to be learned here, just a story about reality and tough choices. A story that if animals could talk, we would hear repeated from their own mouths.
The stories are about neglect and abandonment and how it only takes one person to save their life, and how sometimes that person doesn't exist.
So please adopt from shelters, especially those you know euthanize. There are always a thousand reasons not to take in an animal, but weighed against the life of that animal, most of them seem to disappear.
Toaster now goes by Jinx, and thanks to a friend of mine and a little persuading of her family, he’s found a great new home.