Breaking up is hard to do, but after 15 years of marriage most of those break ups are as long-forgotten as what I learned in algebra class – the first time I took it.
Still, there is one break up that I have never forgotten. It was when my then-boyfriend declared like the final exclamation point on a surprise reveal – “…I always hated your cat!”
Whoa – that was harsh.
Not often speechless, I finally understood the expression “cat got your tongue?” Um, um…there I was stammering for words, for a cohesive thought, for some retort to such an unfathomable thought, but I had nothing. He hated my cat.
Really there was nothing else to say. Taking a cue from my feline friend, I gave him a supercilious look of indifference, turned tail and strutted out the door.
I am a cat person. So much so that if I became a shut-in with a house full of cats, I am sure I would be quite content. Just to be clear though, I am plenty far from that scenario — I only have two cats.
I would say it’s really only one and half, when you consider one cat lives almost exclusively outside, per his own preference. However, he is quite large weighing almost a third of what our dog – a faux-Lab weighs. So Outside Cat, as he has aptly been named, has to count as an entirety.
Our other cat is Pearl — a grey and white tiny treasure that a friend abducted from the parking lot at her Chiropractor’s office, locked in her van and, knowing my proclivity toward animals, called me to save her.
What could I do? It was September and my friend had already gone into her appointment without cracking her car window. My boys and I rescued poor Pearl both from the busy street and my well-intentioned friend, who had obviously never seen a public service announcement regarding the necessity of keeping your windows cracked when you leave a living, breathing being in a car.
So our lives went on with two cats, two boys and dog until another friend, Catherine (that’s a fake name I picked because it begins with cat) sent out a plea for Mr. Moo (yes that is his real name.)
I don’t know if this girl aspires to be the female equivalent of St. Francis, but she certainly sets an admirable example for anyone advocating on behalf of the voiceless.
Indeed it has been said that Saint Francis had the gift of sympathy, and Catherine does too. Like Saint Francis who was ever compassionate, I think it comes from a true reverence of all living things being gifts from God.
The Catholic Encyclopedia describes Saint Francis as such, “Francis’s love of creatures was not simply the offspring of a soft or sentimental disposition; it arose rather from that deep and abiding sense of the presence of God, which underlay all he said and did.”
I get this –seeing the presence of God in the natural world. I think it’s hard to enjoy nature or to understand the nuances of animal instincts and not get how astoundingly adept God is at creating life – not just hum-drum life either, but glorious, fascinating and purposeful life.
Although tiny in stature, Catherine has a huge heart and daily campaigns to encourage others to adopt not shop, microchip, spay or neuter, rescue or foster.
So when she sent out a plea for a foster home for Mr. Moo, how could I not be mooooved? (I promise not to do that again.)
Mr. Moo was a shelter cat who was relocated to a pet store to have a better chance at adoption. Yet, months had passed and Mr. Moo was still caged waiting patiently for his forever home.
It reminded me of the children’s book by Don Freeman, Corduroy, where the bear waits in the department store for a child to take him home, but is over-looked because he is missing a button on his coveralls. Finally, a little girl sees past this imperfection, breaks out her piggy bank and brings him home. When he gets there he says “This must be a home. I have always wanted a home,” said Corduroy.
Mr. Moo was days away from being sent back to the shelter where his chances of having a home would slip from bad to worse. So Catherine had found someone to adopt him — a mere 2 states away. She just needed to find a foster home for him until transportation could be arranged.
It took an entire day for my boys to even notice Mr. Moo was grazing among us. The large black and white spotted cat with yellow eyes appeared mute — not even the big black dog or the tiny grey kitten could provoke a single mew. My husband liked that he was quiet, my boys decided they preferred him to Pearl (they are a little bit naughty), and Mr. Moo seemed to enjoy having room to roam.
Two weeks passed and we still did not have a ride for Mr. Moo. Admittedly I was getting a little anxious because now my kids wanted to send Pearl across the state line in lieu of Mr. Moo. I also felt guilty thinking that Mr. Moo might feel like Corduroy – like he had finally found a home. I hated to think after all those months in the shelter, then the pet store, and now at my house — that Mr. Moo still had not made it home.
That’s when the good Lord sent me Mr. Ex.
I mentioned to a friend that I needed to find a ride for a cat to South Carolina. Still stuck on the absurdity of my words, I barely heard her when she told me her ex-husband would be traveling through the state in a few days.
I begged her to ask her ex-husband if he would be willing to take Mr. Moo on part of his journey. I realized this was a big request — both the transportation and as much so, asking her to involve her ex-husband. Yet, having worked with this person on many volunteer endeavors, I knew how uniquely capable she is at making things happen – much of which I attribute to her simple willingness to serve others.
Alas, I texted Catherine and the woman in South Carolina who wanted to adopt Mr. Moo and told them Mr. Ex would be willing to take Mr. Moo to meet somewhere off the highway in her home state.
Logistically, we had to do a little algebra (which if you remember, I forgot….) We had to figure out if Mr. Ex leaves Florida at 8:30 a.m. and travels 70 mph with a cat companion, how long will it take him to arrive at a random truck stop exit in South Carolina to meet Mr. Moo’s new Mama who has to drive an hour and half from home to be at said truck stop. See why I hate algebra?
Besides, on the morning Mr. Moo was set to leave, Mr. Ex was late — changing an important variable in the equation.
Not knowing he would be tardy, I had already packed Mr. Moo in his carrier. Alas, Mr. Moo mewed.
It was awful. I was anxious and sad. His caterwauling intensified my angst. I felt horribly guilty that Mr. Moo was once again being shipped away – that he had a five-hour journey ahead of him before he met his new owner. From there he would have another hour and a half drive until he could stretch once again.
I was upset about the cat being confined for a longer period than necessary. Finally, I called my friend and asked her the whereabouts of Mr. Ex. She said she would find out and call me back. Within minutes like a call to 911, she was at my door. She was going to take Mr. Moo to Mr. Ex, and assured me he would leave immediately. As if she hadn’t done enough to help, she comforted me as I tearfully said my goodbyes.
All day I was anxious trying to solve the algebra problem of time travel involving Mr. Ex, Mr. Moo and his new owner. In the end, this like much of life worked itself out, — not because of a complicated equation but because of people’s willingness to contribute to a solution.
It was the sum of our efforts — one person advocating for the freedom of the animal, another willing to give it temporary shelter, a friend appealing to an ex-spouse on behalf of another, a kind man willing to drive a suddenly vocal cat more than 5 hours, and alas a woman willing to adopt a cat she had never met.
All of these people made it possible for an animal that couldn’t be given away, to feel like Corduroy did after he was finally home. “You must be a friend,” Corduroy said. “I always wanted a friend.”
While breaking up may be hard to do at least now there is one happy ending that involves a Mr. Ex.