Feral kitten opens woman's heart
When not discovering new locations, Maria Tzavaras, A Woman and a Suitcase writer rescues cats and dogs.
And here is one of her Pet Stories.
As I sit here writing this, purring and kneading on my lap is a small tuxedo cat named Luca.
I say that I'm his mom, but for those of you who have cats, you know they're really your boss and not the other way around.
That's one of the great things about cats - they choose who their special person is and once they've chosen you, you are their person, like it or not.
Luca, like hundreds of thousands out there now, was homeless and came from the street. Born of a feral mother, somehow he's still social and loves people. The people whose yard he was born and stayed in said he was the friendliest of all his littermates and also the smallest so perhaps Luca knew friendly was the best way to get scraps from a man one house over who had taken an interest in the kittens.
An interest, yes, responsibility to find them good homes or vet them, no. But little did I know, 10 months later, his irresponsibility and thoughtlessness would be my gift - my Luca.
It was a cold December night when I returned home one evening to my younger brother screaming for me. When I got to him, there in his outstretched hands was this little black cat. All he said to me was "Look what I found." He then handed me the kitten and left.
My reaction was less than thrilled and I remember saying something like, "I don't want to touch it. What if it has fleas?"
As a staunch animal advocate that may seem like a less than compassionate reaction, but at the time I had just lost my dog, Lucky, a once chained dog I freed and loved madly so I wasn't feeling mom-like, nor did I feel I had any heart left to give to this little cat.
For the remainder of the evening, this kitten, that I thought to be 10 months old, just lay silent in my lap, curled in a ball, oblivious to my broken heart or my intentions of finding it somewhere else to live.
I posted signs, asked friends if they wanted him, called the shelters and the humane society to see if I could bring him there. I even took him out of the house to see if he would leave or walk home, but this little cat followed me right back inside. I didn't know he'd already chosen me as his person. Thankfully, all my other efforts were fruitless, too.
It took me about three months to start to love him, this little soul that didn't meow or do much else, but follow me around, and after some inspiration from Lucky, I named him Luca and realized this little cat was his gift to me.
Luca also made me realize I had to expand my rescue efforts that had primarily been freeing chained dogs, and from then on started on my path to help any and every cat that needed help and a home.
This was three years ago and today Luca and I are so bonded I can't imagine him not with me. And while he doesn't like cats much, he tolerates the ones I bring inside to look after until I find them a home.
I also take these stray cats to the vet and get them spayed or neutered. This, along with responsible ownership, is the only way to conquer the massive overpopulation problem we have in Toronto.
If you see a cat on your porch, in your bushes or in trouble, please don't turn away and assume it's owned or someone else's problem. In the very least, bring it somewhere to get out of the elements and give it something to eat.
Kindness, mercy and compassion is what truly makes us human, and you never know - you may have just found your newest family member and just don't know it yet.
Purina Animal Hall of Fame
A rottweiler who helps Canadian soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; an Australian cattle dog and border collie who saved their owner from a rampaging cow; and a whippet who saved a toddler from being choked to death are three of last year year's inductees into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.
This year's inductees will be announced in May at PawsWay Pet Discovery Centre at the Harbourfront Centre.
For more than four decades, the Purina Animal Hall of Fame has honoured pets and service dogs for their acts of heroism and bravery, which have saved human lives. From sensing deadly medical conditions to saving their owners from wild animal attacks, more than 150 inductees have been recognized including 125 dogs, 25 cats and one horse,
While the ceremony isn't open to the public, people can see former inductees, including a Toronto mini schnauzer who lead his owner to a senior in need, at the permanent home to the Purina Animal Hall of Fame at Pawsway.
Source: Inside Toronto