This is the second of V.K. Whetham's guest posts about the miracle cats who chose her household as their forever home.
A year ago this month, the wind was howling the entire night so hard the roof seemed to shake and I was certain the siding on the house was being peeled off – again. This is not unusual for where I live now. The wind is our constant companion throughout the year, but is always particularly unrelenting and brutal in January.
The dogs were restless that night. They woke me up several times, almost every hour. The first couple of times they went outside to do their business and to, no doubt, check on the siding and shingles for me. Strangely, the third time they woke me they refused to leave the house. They just stood watching me, tails wagging, ears perked up, clearly “on alert” but with no perceivable enemy or concern.
By four a.m. I was exhausted and exasperated by their behavior. “What is it?” I begged, more than asked. “What’s wrong?” I encouraged the dogs to go outside for the umpteenth time and my usually obedient canines looked at me like I had clearly lost my marbles. They were not going outside. It was windy and cold. They had no business to do out there.
My son woke up and came into the living room. I told him about the dogs’ strange behavior and he just shrugged, conveying not only disinterest but general annoyance as well. “They woke me up,” he groused, as he headed to the kitchen. Then suddenly he stopped. “What’s that?” he asked. I hadn’t heard a thing. “Can’t you hear it?”
My son opened the front door then, dressed only in a shirt and underwear, went out into the 40-degrees-below storm. Moments later he returned with the saddest-looking thing that I’d seen in a long time.
The tiny creature looked like he was about six weeks old. His fur was thin and sparse. Alarmingly, I could see every bone in his body, including every tiny vertebra that made up his long, bluish-grey tail. Huge green eyes looked at me. And, unbelievably, this little feline was purring.
I shuddered. And I looked at my son. We rushed to show the kitten where the water and the food were located. A tiny shred of hope crept up my spine when the kitten drank a large amount of water, nibbled on the food and then returned to the water.
My son pleaded, “We have to keep him!”
“Of course, no question; but, honey, I don’t know. He’s so tiny and sick. Little ones are fragile. You have to be prepared. He may not survive.”
My son shrugged, this time conveying the clear message he was siding with the dogs that night: I had lost my marbles and had no idea what I was talking about.
That morning we took the kitten to the vet. He was very emaciated but otherwise in good health. He was also more likely six months old than six weeks. He was very small for his age.
The vet gave us some food and told us to come back in two week when hopefully the little guy could be neutered and given his shots. In for a dime, in for a dollar.
How did this tiny kitten find us? Our home is surrounded by eight-foot-tall bushes. A small kitten could crawl into the yard but dogs can’t, even in the winter. The porch light wasn’t on and there was no sign on our door that said, “Security found here,” despite what my family may think. Stranger still, we have never heard Shadow meow since that winter’s night. He purrs quite loudly but does not speak.
What was a six-month-old kitten doing outside in the middle of winter? Kittens that young don’t usually wander far. He may not have been out long in the cold, because it doesn’t take long for anything to become emaciated in freezing temperatures, but certainly he’d been out for at least a day or two. He was on death’s door – another few hours, maybe a day, and we probably would have found a horror on our porch and not the purring machine we did.
This past December, our beautiful black cat, Stryder (named after the king in the Lord of the Rings), passed away unexpectedly. One day, I may write about Stryder, who lived up to his name in every way possible. But not today. I have folded his memory away for now and hidden him behind a door. When the pain has lessened, I will open the door and tell you about the king.
Shadow is a miracle brought to us, I believe, by God. Fuzzy had not lived one day without a feline companion, and he was bonded inseparably to my son and to his buddy, Stryder. I think it was a miracle that saved Shadow, and I believe that God knew Stryder’s days were numbered and Fuzzy would need another companion. We would all need another companion; not to replace our old friend but to ease his passing so we could bravely let him go.
How else could Shadow – against improbable odds, facing a sure death, in a winter storm and in the dark – have found the one porch in the entire neighborhood where a family was awake and could hear his cry for help and take him in?
I have learned that faith is not only believing in God but also believing in all his promises. It’s why I pray, “Please make me the person my dogs think that I am, and thank you for my cats who remind me that I am not that person yet.”