Dear Mama Cat:
You came to reside under my lower deck almost 18 months ago. I saw you as weather was changing from Autumn to early Winter, outside, cold, wet, hungry. I took pity on you and began putting food out for you every day. As weather deteriorated, I made a shelter with a pad of carpeting to keep you from freezing. Every day, twice a day, I fed you, and as you began to trust me, you would be waiting right against the sliding door to the deck. I even began warming the canned cat food to give you warmth and even heated the bowls of water so you could drink warm water before it froze. That was December. Into January and February, I kept a close watch on you, making sure to bring warm food and water by 7:30 in the morning, then 4:30 in the afternoon.
Spring arrived with warmth and you managed to endure living under the deck, but would always respond to my calls and dinging one of the bowls with a butter knife, and you would immediately come over to eat the meal.. Fast forward to late June. Setting out the bowls of canned food, dry food, and water, I spotted some kind of movement on the top stair step to the lawn. I walked over to see what it was and looked at four beautiful kittens, all snuggled up together for warmth.
I increased the food amount to make sure the babies could begin enjoying the offerings I had kept serving to you. Mama Mama, and as they grew in size, they would begin coming toward me when I would bring the food out in the morning then in the afternoon. One little guy was always the first out to greet me, "Baby Boy," followed by the other three siblings. Marveling at the four as they grew, and petting them as they ate the food, with you standing guard a couple feet way, I gained their trust gradually. The first Baby Boy would always brush against my leg as I set the bowls down, and allow me to pet him as he was eating.
One day,when your babies were about four months old, I went to the door to take out the early morning meal to see you AND a beautiful male cat lying facing the door, waiting for "The Food Guy" to bring breakfast. He was very beautiful and when I slid the door open, neither you nor he moved away. Okay, I thought, another mouth to feed. No great big deal. (Mama is on the left, Guy is on the right....)
Being somewhat ignorant about cats in general, even though I had my first cat "adopt" me when I lived in Lombard, and who spent 14 wonderful years with me, loving me until her passing, she never caused me to try figuring out the cat psyche at all.
So, on you and your beautiful babies went entertaining me and rubbing up against me, coming running every time I went out the door with food, little by little becoming loving towards me as we went into the changing weather in November. In my sophomoric mind, I thought your babies would become adults and go away, somewhere else to begin new lives. Not! It came a time when I began to realize that I couldn't repeat the same scenario all over again, and contacted several Animal Shelters to see about adoptions..... Oh my, Loaded with cats. No room for any further intake, other than County animal "Control," where MOST cats and dogs are euthanized. NO! NO WAY my babies would be put to death! Finally, I was referred to the American Society For Prevention of Cruelty To Animals in Kalamazoo, a "No-Kill" shelter only for adoption! After explaining my dilemma, I was told to bring them in, one or two at a time. If they were judged to be able to handled and petted by humans, they would be adoptable.Love? Oh, Yeah!
So, I caught one of your babies, a little guy, male, and took him in. They told me to take more time to become much more close with the rest, ESPECIALLY the lone female of the litter, as she MIGHT be impregnated by the adult male who kept hanging around, OR by one of her three brothers as they became sexually mature! Meanwhile, that darn "Baby Boy" had become MORE attached to me, and I had thoughts of keeping him inside to accompany my ten year old foundling I already had brought in to be my house guest so long ago. I brought him inside and he was perfectly delighted to be with me, playing with me, cuddling up to me, even dozing while on my lap. Oh, MY, My, My!
Then, the thought that I am, well, old, and 77, while he was 7 months old, and who would outlive, he or me. Who would take him in and care for him as I would when I passed away? Terrible thoughts ran through my mind. Oh, how I loved him, and how he loved me! My God, how can I give HIM the life he should have unless I can BE there, with him? An entire WEEK pondering this tumultuous decision brought me to the realization that I would PROBABLY NOT be there for him for 15 to maybe 17 years! I gave him away to the ASPCA people, Mama, so he would be welcomed into a family that would love him, care for him and appreciate his wonderful affection that he had come to outwardly show to me!
After the emotionally draining sadness of saying that final Good-Bye to "Baby Boy," I had two beautiful almost adult babies to deal with. Next was the single female. She was easy, she was loving, trusting, and went right into the pet carrier to be transported to the ASPCA. She was adopted in just a couple days after they had arranged to have he "fixed." The last one was the "Little Boy," who was affectionate and trusting. He gave no resistance to being put int o the pet carrier, no screaming, no panic, nothing. Now, every one of the four beautiful babies has been adopted by responsible families, so you, Mama, don't have to worry about them any more......
Now, really, Monday, February,11, I had to, was made to decide that I MUST hand you over to the Cass County "Animal Control" authorities. At my age, I cannot continue to care for you, my beautiful little lady, and if I KEEP you here, you will likely present me with ANOTHER litter, this time, maybe with a full litter of offspring. I cannot go through the emotional attachment and love I found with the four kittens you gave to me last year, I hope, with little hope, that you might be "fixed," then possibly adopted by a family that will care for you as I cared for you and those beautiful babies you gave me. If that cannot be, then I grieve for you, even as much as I grieve that I do not have any of those beautiful darling babies you gave to me last year.... I have always loved you, and I loved all four of your babies even more. I pray for you now and forever..... Thank you for the gift you gave me......
William Luban, The Food Guy