Tess came to us in May 2001, not even 2 weeks old.

We were having a garage sale and as one of the customers was returning to her car, she asked if we knew anyone who wanted a kitten.  It seems that someone where she works had found the kitten outside the night before, and had wrapped it in a towel and she was trying to find someone to care for it.

  My mom looked at the woman and me and said, "No.  We already have four cats."

  But then the woman said the magic words, "It's a calico."

  Mom has always had a soft spot for calico cats, so she said, "Let me see it."  The woman brought the kitten out and we realized how young she was.  The little eyes weren't even open entirely, they looked like little diamonds.  Her little ears were still tipped forward too.  She was all white with an orange and black calico mask and cap.  Her tail was ringed with orange and black and she had one black spot on her side.

  Mom tucked the kitten into her shirt for warmth and sent me into the house to fix something warm and bring an eyedropper too.  By the time I came out with it, the woman was gone and the kitten was rooting around mom's neck.

  As she took the dropper and started to fill it with the mixture, she said, "I think I'll call her Tess, after that lady on Touched by an Angel, because she had to have been touched by an angel to have made it through the night and to get here."

  At feeding time, our dog Cricket would cry and fuss until we allowed her to lick the kitten's face and bottom, stimulating her to go potty.  Crystal, one of the other cats in the house would wash Tess's face as mom fed her.  She had many mommas taking care of her. Tess grew up to be a loving, but spoiled cat who would welcome everyone who came in our house.

  She would rub around their feet and often jump from the floor to their shoulder in one leap.  She would then rub around their neck. She often spent hours laying on my shoulder while I tried to work on the computer or play games.  Tess loved to run outside and run around our porch.

  This winter, mom and I discussed putting up a dog kennel outside one of the windows so the cats could finally go outside safely.  But near the middle of February, Tess became ill.  We took her to the vet and she was examined.  Later that afternoon, Dr. Conklin called us to say the X-rays showed a mass.  It turned out to be cancer and she had a surgery to remove it.

  We decided that Tess would live the best she could until her quality of life changed for the worse.  My brother drove Tess and me to the vet two weeks later for her suture removal appointment.  The day of surgery she had weighed eight pounds fifteen ounces and now weighed seven pounds five ounces.  She had lost one pound and ten ounces in two weeks.

  One night a few days later, I sat crying with Tess on my shoulder and promised her that if she could hang in there until her 8th birthday, May 5th, I would have her outside space for her.  She rubbed my cheek and purred to me, the first time I had heard her purr like that in a while.  But only one week later Tess stopped eating, lost more weight, and her hair was looking shaggy and even duller. Every night she would cry at the door wanting to go outside.  She showed no interest in anything other than trying to get outside.

  We had to make the painful decision to allow her to die with dignity and not to watch her waste away and suffer.  Tess is buried next to the steps just off the front porch, her favorite place the last few times she got to go outside.  I planted several tulips and bulbs on her grave.

  On March 19th, I purchased a 10'x10'x6' high chain link kennel and extra panels to close in the top, and a reflective tarp to shade and protect from the rain.  The last weekend in March, my brother Jim helped mom and me set it up outside my bedroom window.  We are going to put a "cat door" in the window so the remaining cats can go outside and lay on carpeted ledges and play in the grass.  Our good friend and neighbor, John, is going to find a downed tree in the woods that we can put in for them to climb and scratch on.

  My heart still breaks and I cry at the thought of her or mention of her name.  But even though my beloved Tess never got to experience it, the remaining seven will all get to enjoy "Tessa's Dream" within the next few weeks.


  -- Robin Wagner rowdyrobin@yahoo.com

Robin says, "I live in New Florence, PA, with my mother and 7 cats, 3 dogs, 2 turtles, 2 horses, a 65 gallon fish tank, and a huge goldfish pond.  I work at a facility for developmentally disabled adults and serve as the treasurer for Best of Friends, a therapeutic horseback riding organization that helps disabled persons through horses.  I have also had a previous story on Petwarmers, Smudge's Gift, which was published August 6, 2000 about one of my cats, Crystal."

April 2008

Five Good Reasons for Having Your Cat Neutered

  • Reduces fighting, injury and noise
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  • Much less likely to wander and get lost
  • Safer from diseases like feline AIDS, mammary tumours and feline leukaemia
  • Reduces the number of unwanted kittens

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