My home always had a dog, or two, or three. I had been a "dog" person, all my life, that is until --- one summer's eve. A very pretty, little calico mother and her two orange and white, long haired beautiful kittens came to live with us. The little males were only a few weeks old and just learning to eat. Mother cat was skittish and wouldn't let me near her, but once she was fed and watered, she calmed down a bit. I was apprehensive about touching her kittens, but they were so cute; I had to pet them. We soon became fast friends.


My husband David and I agreed that we must give the little ones a lot of attention to tame them in order to find homes for them. However, the more we petted, the more reluctant we became to put them up for adoption. Petie and Pretty soon became our evening entertainment. They quickly learned to chase bright colored yarn balls, play with or teased our dogs -- whichever struck their fancy, and climb onto any old lap that was handy. Their contented purrs were music to our ears. Petie was my favorite while Pretty adored David. Getting rid of them was never again mentioned.

Fast forward thirteen years. Eleven cats now resided at the home of the confirmed "dog" lover. One at a time, they moved in "on little cat feet" from the apartment complex across the street. Starving or injured these castaway felines had been abandoned by their owners who had moved away.

Our boys Pretty and Petie, the self assigned “leaders" of the pack, loved the outdoors and each established his territory. Petie and gang claimed the side porch, while Pretty and company commandeered the back porch. Each group stayed within his or her limits and never ate with the other group.

Last summer Petie quit grooming himself. His fur looked dirty and matted. When I picked him up, he felt thin and weak. I had seen him eating, but the food must not have been getting into his system. A trip to the vet confirmed my fears. The vet told me his kidneys were failing, and he was past medical help. He also said, "He isn't in pain, so if you want, you can keep him comfortable for a while yet."

The day after our trip to the vet, I observed a most unusual behavior for which I had no explanation. Petie and his four friends all moved to the back porch for their meals, and the back porch cats took over the side porch. Petie was given first dibs on the food dish with the others waiting for him to start eating before digging in. Another male, Rascal, would sit beside him to wash his face and clean his eyes then rest with him on the grass.

Whenever Petie left the porch, one of the cats always accompanied him to the yard and stayed near him. Was it for protection? As the month passed, this routine never varied.

One Sunday evening Petie refused to eat or drink the water that, heretofore, he had gulped down in large volumes. Sitting down beside the old cat, I reassuringly and tenderly stroked his head. Petie lay as still as a limp rag doll; purring was too much of an effort. After a few minutes, he slowly got to his feet and unsteadily walked to the yard. None of the cats got up to go along. They sat near me like statues on the steps. Together we watched as he haltingly made his way through the rays of the setting sun and disappeared into the dappled shadows of a grove of trees.

All of us assembled on the steps knew full well that somewhere among those shadows, the Rainbow Bridge awaited Petie. We never saw him again. The "confirmed dog lover" wept.

The next morning all the cats had gone back to their original porches. Did they know? I think so. Dumb animals?

I think not.

by Clara Wersterfer (US)



The Very Best Toy for Cats

"Of all the [cat] toys available, none is better designed than the owner himself. A large multipurpose plaything, its parts can be made to move in almost any direction. It comes completely assembled, and it makes a noise when you jump on it."

Stephen Baker

Sponsored Advert