(Sherburne, NY – July 2014) It’s been a rough couple of months. First, a horse. And now a cat. On Mother’s Day weekend, the horse was dragged out of a trailer, thrown in a field, and left to die. My friends found him, skin and bones, covered in mud and harness sores, a left rear ankle the size of a soccer ball, a puncture wound in his upper right foreleg. They trailered him to their farm and began the slow and very expensive process of healing him. Against all odds, he’s making good progress. Against even greater odds, he trusts the people taking care of him and has an enormous will to live.
Sometime in April, a long-haired seal point Siamese cat showed up in my back yard. Surely, she must belong to someone, I told myself. But she never left my yard. Ever. I keep a bowl of kibble in the garage for the night cats – these sad little creatures, who have no permanent home, no life other than mating and birthing and fighting for territory. This new kitty ate from the community kibble bowl. She wanted nothing to do with me, and would run every time she saw me.
I started feeding her good food, talking to her, getting her used to my presence and my voice. She quickly learned to anticipate meal time. Eventually, she came up on the deck, and waited for me to put her dish down. A week ago, she let me pet her. And then I was able to pick her up and brush her. She started talking to me, and after a week of this intimate attention, she now clearly wants to come inside. She has claimed my back yard as her territory, and chases away any interlopers.
My original plan was to get her to trust me enough that I could put her into a carrier and take her to the SPCA. This plan became critical when I saw her mate one afternoon with one of the other homeless cats. So now I have a pregnant cat, not just another cat.
What I didn’t count on with this plan of mine was falling in love. Suddenly, I have a creature who has bonded with me, who reaches up with her two front paws to be petted, who jumps in my lap as I’m sitting in a deck chair and rubs her face against mine while she purrs. It took four months, but she’s gone from wanting nothing from me other than food to wanting me to claim her as she has claimed me.
I’ve accomplished my mission of getting her to trust me. And now I have to betray her, by taking her away and being yet another human who abandons her. She has no way of understanding that I’ve reached (if not surpassed) my indoor cat limit. She has no way to comprehend that bringing her inside would upset the already delicate balance of six resident cats living in a small house. She cannot anticipate her new kittens in my household would definitely cross the line between sanity and insanity.
When I contemplate taking her to the SPCA, it is not the common-sense, intellectual part of me that dominates that discussion in my head. Instead, I am haunted by the look I know will be on her face when I walk away, her expression radiating fear and betrayal and mistrust, as once again another human has tossed her away.
And I am filled with gut-wrenching rage at people who treat animals so carelessly, who take no responsibility for their well-being, and my thoughts turn to revenge. If I were a witch, I’d put a curse on all such people, rendering them homeless and abandoned, scared and vulnerable, left to find food and water all on their own, to never experience love and kindness and gentleness.
What? Too harsh? I think not. Admittedly, not very Ghandi of me, but after seeing what people are capable of either through outright cruelty (the horse) or just plain stupidity or ineptitude (the cat), I’m pretty much out of patience and done with trying to figure out the why of it. Where is a vengeful God when you need one?
If you’d like to follow the progress of Justin Thyme, the horse in this story, visit his website at http://www.gofundme.com/justin-thyme or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justin-Thyme-Horse-Rescue/251406608388924. If you feel moved to help people who help animals in need, please consider supporting the Chenango County SPCA at http://www.cspca.org/ or Wanderers’ Rest Humane Association at http://wanderersrest.org/.
Chris Hoffman lives in the village of Sherburne in her 150+ year-old house where she caters to the demands of her four cats, attempts to grow heirloom tomatoes and herbs and reads voraciously. She passionately pursues various avenues with like-minded friends to preserve and protect a sustainable rural lifestyle for everyone in Central New York.