Thursday, December 13, 2012
I love a good happy ending. There are plenty of melancholy songs and films that I absolutely adore, but deep down my heart is always hoping and wishing for a happy ending.
We had a lot of neighborhood cats in our neighborhood. I liked to name them and look out for them whenever I was driving through the parking lots, because I'd grown affectionate towards them and they kept out of everyone's way--not a bother or a nuisance at all.
One in particular, my favorite, I named Chubby. He was a roly poly kitten when I first laid eyes on him, struggling to get out of a dumpster as I approached but too, ahem, rotund to really heave himself up and out. I saw him frequently with another cat named Shades (he looks like he has little sunglasses perched on his head--and he also has a black heart on his nose!). The two were as thick as thieves, cuddling together, hunting together, playing together, and it seemed they were protective of each other.
One day, Chubby disappeared. I never saw him again, and I feared the worst. My heart was broken, and I also felt bad that Shades lost his buddy, his mate. Soon enough another cat became friendly with Shades, but their dynamic really wasn't the same. Chubby was gone, and sorely missed at that.
Last night, I saw two women setting up behind some bushes some little "cubbies" that were lined with hay to provide warmth, covered in plastic garbage bags to protect them from rain, and filled with food and fresh water. I started talking to them, and learned that they helped trap the cats for TNR purposes (Trap, Neuter, and Release). They had had a lot of success with trapping the cats and spaying or neutering them, and some even became tame house cats and found good homes. This type of work is so valuable, because, although I love to see the sweet little kittens, their lives are incredibly hard, and most likely many of them won't make it to adulthood. They might starve, get hit by a car, get attacked by a stray dog, or even get poisoned by people who see the cats as nuisances.
Apparently many of the cats that I'd seen and named had found good homes and/or had had successful releases back into "the wild." Pirate Kitty, whom I named because of the two black patches over his eyes, was called Gizmo by his rescuer. Another cat I called Cookies and Cream was also known as Thelma; one of the women thought he was a female, but discovered upon trapping him that in fact he was a male cat! She liked the name Cookies and Cream, but still calls him Thelma because that's how she always knew him. We talked and talked about all of the different cats we had seen over the past year and laughed because we both had named them and noticed certain behaviors among the different cats.
I mentioned that I still saw Shades very frequently, and wondered if he had ever been trapped. She called Shades by another name, Skinny Tail, and said she had trapped him and neutered him, but that he didn't like life indoors and had escaped and continued to live on the streets. I summoned up the courage to ask about my beloved Chubby, hoping I wouldn't be disappointed. "Shades used to hang out with this one cat, who had one patch over his eye..." I began. "Quattro!" she cried! She explained that he lived with her, and she had named him Quattro because he was the fourth in his litter, but absolutely loved my name for him. Apparently, she had seen Chubby and Shades together and they actually lived together in her home!
She showed me a picture on her phone of Chubby and Shades in her bathroom sink, curled up around each other with Chubby looking ever protective of his friend Shades. I almost cried I was so happy, so flooded with relief after assuming for so long that Chubby was long since dead. She could see how joyful I was, and laughed, assuring me that "the Chubs" was doing just fine. "He's fatter than ever!" she said, chuckling.
Sadly, Shades did abandon his friend to live back on the streets. Perhaps he felt caged in and wanted the freedom. Chubby, on the other hand, is happy to get regular meals delivered to him, I'm sure.
I ran into Shades the other night, and normally he would have bolted away, but for once, as I was saying in a low voice that it was all right and I wouldn't be bothering him, moving as slowly as I could, he stood and looked at me, and waited until I had moved away to continue on his way. Perhaps he knows I'm sending love and affection his way.
And my Chubby? Happy in a loving home, which is all I could ever ask for. I'm seriously hoping the woman follows up on her invitation for me to come see him one day. Even if it never happens, knowing he's all right, having seen him sprawled out on her carpet (in another phone photo) looking for all the world as a carefree cat should, I know that I too will be just fine.