Cats come to us in many different ways. Sometimes, we go looking for them. Other times, they find us when we may not even have realized that we were lost. And sometimes, a cat comes to us through what can only be called a miracle.

Three years ago today, such a miracle took place for a stray cat and a friend of mine. I shared the story here on The Conscious Cat two years ago, and I’d like to share it again today. It’s a story of how some encounters are just meant to be. It’s a story of the perseverance of the feline spirit. And it’s a story of the miracles that can happen when we open our hearts.

But why don’t I let my friend tell the story.

Guest post by Renee L. Austin

Second chances are hard to come by, especially when the crazy pace of life can cause us to miss the fact that there was an initial opportunity to begin with.  And when there is a chance to change a life, one’s own or someone else’s, a second chance is even more precious – particularly when that life hangs in the balance…

I’d seen her at least a week, maybe two weeks earlier, climbing an embankment on the side of the road.  Even though there were no houses or barns nearby, the collar she was wearing stood out, and with some degree of relief I gave her just a fleeting thought.  I was in a bit of hurry and traveling the back dirt roads. Well, by December they’re usually treacherously slick and muddy narrow lanes flanked by the dull browns and grays of winter.  I have no business using them when they are so bad, but haste often overcomes common sense.

The next time I came upon her was in an even more remote area.  She was wandering ahead of me up the middle of the road through the freezing rain.  She was so un-cat-like; helpless looking and forlorn, head down, shoulders slumped, plodding through mud the consistency of pudding.  She seemed totally unconcerned with my car pulling up behind her and barely glanced over her shoulder before slightly quickening her pace.  Dejection and misery radiated from the little body.

When I stepped out and into the muck to call her, this suddenly animated creature whirled around and half ran to me chattering on and on in short rapid bursts.  She leapt into the car without hesitation and proceeded to hug me; purring loudly and rubbing her face against mine as I settled back behind the wheel.  Before I even got us turned around we were both covered in the mud she’d carried in with her.  The inside of the car was a mess, too.  And there I was, late-late-late, headed back to the house with a stray tortoiseshell cat loose in my car with cautionary thoughts churning of rabies, crazed tortie attacks, and wondering how I was going to explain this one to the folks at the emergency room.  She rode standing in my lap, shivering and smelling of cold, wet earth and winter, front legs wrapped tightly around my neck, face pressed hard against my cheek. It turned out that my biggest concern was being able to keep the car on the road while trying to see around her head.

It was much later that night after I’d returned and had time to really study her, that I understood just how close she must have been to the end – that she already must have decided there would be no more chances.  For however long she’d been on her own, and whatever had sustained her thus far, those resources and energy stores were gone. She was spent.  Clearly there was no longer any expectation of help.  Hope had faded and simply ceased to exist.

I remember looking down at her and thinking ‘no room at the inn’.  We do have a full house, and I’d been waffling back and forth between frustration and acceptance over the rate and circumstances at which the fur-footed population was increasing here.  Not only that, but I’ve been so slow to heal after losing my two special friends, each my heart and my soul.  Sometimes it’s just too hard to find space for others amidst the broken pieces.  In that moment I tried to close myself off even more, and then the little gray cat looked back up at me, stumbling and losing her balance in her weakened state.  The drawn face filled with anxiety, showed all of the uncertainty and desperation she’d been carrying-for who knows how long.

It’s been a year now, and this cat that I was so reluctant to bring into the fold is a constant companion; always on my lap or at my feet, or greeting me at the door – when she’s not off raiding the kitchen.  She could stand to lose a pound, maybe a bit more, but that’s something we’ll deal with much later.  Her enthusiasm for all food is rooted, I’m certain, in her having been so near starvation when I picked her up.

Eva walks with an awkward waddle as she follows me whenever I move throughout the house.  Her back, neck, and hip problems are always apparent, even more so-when she first awakens and tries to work the stiffness from her sore joints and muscles.  The chronic cough from a heartworm infection sometimes wakes us all in the night.  These things don’t seem to prevent her from playing by herself in my office while I work, or from efficiently devouring the contents of my plate if I look away for even a moment, or from applying teeth and nails if I decide too soon that she needs to get down.  She is a happy cat – as long as things go her way.

Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like out in the middle of nowhere with no food, no shelter, no hope.  Just hunger and cold and loneliness, and a hopeless fading day by day.  And then I marvel at how, with my crazy schedule and ever changing routes, there could have been the teensiest possibility in all of the minutes and hours and days and miles, of coming upon Eva a second time.

A couple weeks ago I was driving the back way through the rain and gloom and saw a gray form moving up an embankment.  I kept going and then stopped, backing carefully until I was even with a little gray tortie cat.  She wanted nothing to do with me, but as I drove away and worried that she might just simply be frightened and still in need, I realized that I had at least stopped for that first opportunity.  I tucked my own concern away, and have not been back through there since.  Some things are meant to be, some things are not. You can’t be sure until it happens, or doesn’t happen.  The latter is the tricky part, isn’t it?

One thing I do know is that we have to be willing to stop and back up for a moment-and keep our hearts open, even if there’s only just a tiny bit of space among the pieces.

Renee Austin is the owner of Whimsy Cats, Northern Virginia’s premiere cat sitting service.  Whimsy Cats specializes in cats who need special care such as administration of medication, fluids or insulin, senior cats, post-surgical care, and more.  For more information about Renee and Whimsy Cats, please wisit her website at http://www.whimsycats.com.

40 Comments on Conscious Cat Sunday: miracles and second chances

  1. What a touching and beautiful tale. One of my pets being lost, alone, hungry, scared and hopeless, as Eva was when she was found, is one of my worst fears.

    For sure I will go home this evening and give my cat as much affection as he will let me!

  2. Thank you, Ingrid, and to everyone for your wonderful thoughts and for sharing some of your own experiences. Eva is curled up next to me just now as I am tapping away on the keys. When I am home, she’s never more than an arm’s reach away. It did not take her long to establish herself as ‘cat-in-charge’ in a home where there are many other strong personalities. As far as Eva is concerned, it’s simply the way life ought to be! Bernadette-we miss Peaches. During the holidays and this coming year, we wish for everyone to have safe haven, a warm meal, and the comfort of a generous heart. ~Renee, Eva, and the rest of the Whimsy Cats family.

  3. What a great story, with a great ending! I have found over the years the best furbabies are the ones that “find” me, over me going to pick one! You just never know.

  4. Oh Eva… what a joy you are. This was clearly meant to be and what a beautiful and moving story you have written Renee. Your words tug at the very core of my heart and soul – so much so that I can smell the mud in your car and feel Eva’s hopeful fur on your face…

  5. She is beautiful! And very lucky. Cats do seem to find us, as Ingrid said, even when we don’t realize we’re lost. She was so happy to see you because cats know people and which ones have big hearts. She knew you were going to take care of her. Only one of our 8 cats was a conscious decision to add a cat to our family. But all our loved beyond words. They make our family what it is. As I recently told a vet, we’re not a family of 3 w/[then] 9 cats, we’re a family of 12. I feel for those who never know the love of a cat.

  6. ALL my cats have been strays or rescues. The latest, Mr.White showed up on my front lawn on a cold February night – he was like a ghost out there – pure white, long-haired cat. Coaxed him to carport with food, gently drugged him with Rx from vet – had him neutered and all shots. He is still pretty much an outdoor man – he and my 10 year old cat don’t gee and haw after almost 18 months. He ,Mr.White, is young – perhaps 2.5 at most. He is a luvbug…and he gets lots of attention from me – and tons of good food – he is huge – very long and very handsome.
    My son fears will be an old lady CrazyCatLady – but I tell him – I don’t go looking for them – but if they cross my path and stop to stay – I will help in any way I can. I am down to two. My beloved MinniePie left me in Sept of 2010 – she showed up on SuperBowl Sunday in 2006 – peeping thru the cat door – skinny, scared and hungry – 7 months old. And she was the BEST CAT I EVER HAD – hands down.

    I admire all folks who rescue – it is tough and sad work sometimes – but the blessings are a million fold.

    • So far my one and only cat was an ugly orange tom cat, who as a young kitten, decided we were his people. He was the best baby sitter-whenever my newborn daughter would fuss or cry, he would run to her then to whichever one of us was closest to let us know she needed attention. He had no choice of what to eat-my older daughter would hold him and hand feed him. He wanted to be outside most of the time, but had a couple of nerve wracking tricks-for us, that is, when in the house. When he was around 6 years old, he got really sick. Our vet said probably genetic. My husband was laid off from work, we had 5 kid so no extra money to spend. I don’t know who was the most heart broken of us all-my husband who always tried to ignore him-seemed so upset when we decided to put down John Brown. My son tells me the house is too empty when he comes to visit. After 17 years with 2 dogs in the house, it’s now time for the cat my youngest daughter & I were going to ge18 years ago. My youngest daughter says her 2 cats, brother & sister, are the best furry family ever.

  7. What a sweet story-I am so happy for Eva to have a warm home and food in her belly. Yesterday I was in PetSmart and noticed that probably 6 kitties from the week before had been adopted. It just warmed my insides.

  8. How wonderful for all involved. Having rescued an older cat, I know the love and appreciation they show to their humans. It’s humbling to realize how much they love us.

  9. Eva! How good to see you again! We love your story, and you were such a good “virtual” friend to Peaches in her last year. Thanks to Ingrid for brightening our morning with a beautiful story and a happy memory.

  10. What a lovely story – and so perfect for the reminder of the true spirit of the holidays. Eva was so lucky to have been rescued and it certainly sounds like a “match made in heaven” for everyone involved. I love stories like this….somethings were simply meant to be. Thanks for sharing this Ingrid! It was a beautifully written story of love and hope.

    Pam

  11. That was truly a great story. I really believe it was meant to be. I know that some of these here were just meant to be. I feel like a cat magnet.
    Take care and have a super day.

  12. That was an amazing, beautifully written story. I don’t believe in coincidences, so I think coming upon Eva the second time was orchestrated by the universe. We are always where we are meant to be, even if we don’t know why we’re there.

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