During my recent visit to Los Angeles, I met nine cats and Chery, the woman who is caring for them. I meet a lot of cats in my work, but rarely have I been as affected by an encounter as I was by this one. These cats lived through trauma and hardship. They are a testament to the resilience of animals, and their ability to live in the moment, no matter what they may have encountered in their past. Spending time with Chery and the cats was a magical and humbling experience. This is their story. The cats, left to right, top row: Arden, Zazu, Ramses, second row: Moofy, Tweety, Patterson, third row: Noodle, Sandy, Julia
Part Three: It’s a Wonderful Life
Chery has fostered these cats for nine months now. “But that’s not to say we did it alone!” said Chery. “There has been an amazing outpouring of love and support for these cats.” Friends provided food, litter and holistic remedies. Chery’s vet discounted his services. People have gifted money to help support these cats and make sure their needs are met. Chery started a PayPal account to help with vet bills. Donations are welcome. “We also have a very special friend who comes to our home three times a week to help with kitty chores and to spend time with the cats.”
Chery didn’t stop at caring for the cats with just providing shelter, veterinary care, food and love. Two months ago, she built them a catio. “I knew catios were good for cats,” she said, “but I had no idea just how good they are for them!” The catio is a beautifully decorated space filled with light, fresh air, cat trees, beds, and toys. When Chery opened the door to the brand new catio for the first time, Zazu was the only one who looked a bit unsure. “Everyone else just bolted past him,” she said. Chery now opens the catio for them first thing each morning, and doesn’t close it off until it gets dark.
The cats have deeply affected Chery, and have influenced the way she lives her life. She, too, tries to live in the moment as much as she possibly can, the way they do. They have reaffirmed for her that there is a divine order to the universe. “These cats have been divinely provided for every single day of their lives,” said Chery. “Why would this change?” Chery feels that the cat are an example of how you can choose what you want to be. “Having gone through what they have gone through, and still remembering who and what they are – that’s just amazing,” she said.
The cats are also a testament to the fact that there are no limits to what is possible when there’s compassion and love. In a “rags to riches” tale worthy of their Southern California home, two of the cats have become little feline actors. Zazu and Ramses were the stars of a recent photo shoot, along with Jackson Galaxy, for Fizzion. “Everyone on the set was amazed at how confident they were,” said Chery. “They had never been trained, but yet, they did exactly what they were supposed to do. They had a great time.”
Chery still believes that there’s a forever home out there for each and every one of the remaining seven cats. “Their life now is a thousand times better than it was,” she said, “but is it enough for them?” Chery and her husband spend at least a couple of hours every day with the cats, but they also have four cats of their own in the main house. “These cats deserve a real home of their own,” said Chery. She has spent a lot of time thinking about whether the cats should be kept together, but feels that they deserve even more attention than she can give them. “I’d like them to have their own person, someone to sleep with them at night,” she said.
Noodle was adopted, but after five or six weeks, her new guardian’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and she felt she just couldn’t cope with helping a new cat adjust to her home, so Noodle returned to Chery’s guest house. The other cats didn’t seem to miss her while she was gone, but readily accepted her back into the family when she returned. The only cat that will stay with Chery is Zazu. “He almost died in my arms twice,” she said. “He’s not going anywhere.”
Until those purrfect forever homes are found, the cats are living a safe and wonderful life in the guest house of this compassionate woman with a big heart.