In April 2017, I began working for Marshalls despite graduating summa cum laude as an English and communication double major and having a letter of recommendation that described me as one of five or six of the most naturally talented writers my university’s creative writing program director had met in 20 years of teaching. People who follow this blog might be sick of reading that, but when God gives you gifts and talents and you work your @ss off to get a degree to prove that you have those gifts and talents, those are the thoughts that run through your head like a news ticker each day as you walk three miles to work and three miles home because you can’t afford a $2.50 bus ride.
Mid-summer, as I dropped 11 pounds and teenagers blew past me in convertibles on humid 90-degree days, I growled at God, asking why he was doing this to me. Sometimes, I swore at him.
During lunch breaks, I walked two doors down to Petco to pet cats the store obtained from a local animal shelter. Like me, some had been rejected, some had been abused, and none of us knew what was going to happen next.
When Marshalls hired holiday help and cut all of its part-timers’ hours to 10 per week to be able to pay its new employees without dipping into its Christmas earnings, I walked down to Petco again and never went back.
Less than two weeks into my employment, a cat started crying as I walked in the store and headed toward the time clock, so I turned on my heel and rerouted toward Berea Animal Rescue’s kennels.
“Aww! Whatsamatter, baby?” I asked a black kitten peering through bars while standing on her hind feet. The second I stuck my fingers in her cage, she got down on all fours and licked them. I glanced at her name tag: Licorice. I love black licorice.
“She’s been crying all morning since I got here,” my manager yelled across the store from the office, where he’d spotted me on the camera. “Someone adopted her brothers last night and left her all alone.”
“Yeah, I can’t listen to that,” I said, knowing what it’s like to be abandoned. I took her home that night.
Although I couldn’t really afford another mouth to feed or the $125 adoption fee, I thought I was doing a good thing — for her, me, and my 6-year-old orange tabby, Apollo, who’d become codependent, greeting me at the door and gluing himself to me anytime I was home, since his friend Titus died nearly four years earlier. The heartbroken look he shot me when she popped out of her box like a magic act taught me otherwise. To add insult to injury, she hissed at him for days.
“God, please fix this,” I prayed. But since he hadn’t done anything else I’d requested in the three and a half years I’d been a Christian, I spent lunch breaks asking Google how long it would take for them to become friends and what I could do to expedite the process.
Three nights after her adoption, Licorice, who became Cleopatra, jumped onto the bed as I wrote beside Apollo.
Oh, no, I thought.
Instead of hissing, she stepped over my legs to where he was sleeping, lay down in front of him, and placed her front paws against his.
Anytime I tell that story with teary eyes, I say, “They’ve been friends ever since,” but there’s more to it than that. After we became homeless in 2018, she began taking care of him by bathing him:
and holding his hand:
She’s also taken care of me by keeping me company:
helping with chores:
and editing my posts:
I don’t typically post on Fridays, but as you may have noticed from the news, there’s a lot of angry people in this world. More and more are taking their anger out on animals. After waking up to yet another article about a “man” who punted a cat like a football, killing it, after pretending to bend down to pet it, I thought I’d try to evoke some compassion from the part of you that was created in God’s image. You may not like cats, but they’d be a good friend to you if you gave them a chance. And someday, as God starts chipping away at your hard heart by removing people and possessions, you might wish you had one to greet you when you walk in the door.
Please consider following TrapKing Humane Cat Solutions on Facebook to learn about feral cats and how you can help the homeless cat population. Like us humans, they’re just trying to survive this life.