Cassie’s Second Chance
By Allen and Linda Anderson
The following wonderful story is from one of our Angel Animals Day Brightener Newsletter readers, Barbara McGrady. It illustrates the noble work that Barbara and her husband Terry do with their animal rescue organization. See if it makes you think about how you could give back to life and bring joy to people and animals
Barbara McGrady’s Story of Hope
Last Saturday, my husband Terry and I were sitting at our vet’s office waiting our turn for the vet to look at Van Gogh, a cat we rescued from the fairgrounds three years ago.
While we were there, a young woman, an older woman, and a three-year-old boy walked in with a little cat. The young woman clutched the cat close to her breast. While they waited at the receptionist counter, I struck up a conversation with her. She had a strange, cold, emotionless look on her face. She would not make eye contact with me, even when I asked, “So why do you have a sweater on your cat? What is wrong with her today?”
She stared off into space and in a barely audible voice said, “The cat has some bad sores on her neck.” I still didn’t understand the sweater.
Then I overheard the young woman say to the receptionist, “We need to have this cat put to sleep.” The receptionist began filling out the papers and looking a little perplexed. Even though people working at a vet’s office deal with this sort of situation everyday, I bet it never becomes easy for them.
The cat was young, a dilute tortie. Her eyes were clear and defined. She made direct eye contact with me, while I sat on the bench, waiting our turn. Without hesitation, I walked over to the women and said in a low voice, “If finances are a problem, our organization can help.”
The older woman said, “Well, finances are only part of the problem. Our apartment manager won’t allow more than one pet, and we just got a dog.”
I looked into her daughter’s eyes as she held the cat and said, “Do you want us to save your cat?”
The young woman said, with tight lips, that it was up to her mother. So I turned back to the mother and said, “We will take over total responsibility for this cat if you will allow us to do so. We will pay all medical expenses and find her a loving home. If you decide to put her to sleep, you certainly can. She is your cat. The decision is yours.”
I looked into the daughter’s eyes and for the first time, saw a spark of life. She had seemed as if she were in a zombie-like state. The frown lines on her forehead now eased, as she faintly smiled. The mother was realizing, I think, that she would be saving the euthanasia charges and said, “Well, I guess that would be better than putting her to sleep.”
Later, after Van Gogh’s exam, which had taken an unusually long time, I was packing up things we had brought with our cat. I heard a sound, looked up, and saw the young woman approaching me. Tears streamed down her face as she said, “I wanted to wait to tell you how happy you made me just now. I didn’t want my cat to die. She was fine until my mom got a dog. I think she has really bad fleas from the dog going in and out, so I made her the sweater to try to keep her from scratching. I really love her and want to thank you for saving her life.”
A lot became obvious to me just then. I hugged the woman with all my might and told her I didn’t offer to save the cat JUST for the cat’s sake but also for her sake. I had somehow sensed her pain and knew she was hurting badly. I looked her in the eyes and said, “Hey, Happy New Year. We’ll take good care of your cat. I promise.”
For the next week, we boarded the cat, whose name is Cassie. She received all of her first shots but could not be spayed until her sores were healed. She had a horrible case of fleas and had an allergic reaction to their bites. She received an injection to help her heal and she can be spayed in the future. Cassie quickly showed us that she is a sweetheart with a splendid personality. I visited her and watched her personality slowly unfold.
Our Society for the Protection of Animals is a very small, nonprofit, animal welfare organization with limited funds. Very limited funds. But my inner voice had SHOUTED to me that day that this kitten was intended to live, and I was the one intended to see that she did.
We rarely get a call from anyone interested in adopting an adult cat. But three days ago, a woman from our local health food store called to say she was divorced, had moved into a new apartment, and was looking for a loving cat to sit on her lap and keep her company.
Sometimes things seem to happen in a synchronistic way. I do not claim to understand. Since I have begun doing animal rescue, I have seen it again and again and realize what a blessing it is to serve these sometimes-unappreciated creatures.
I picked Cassie up at noon from the vet and took her to her new home. Jeannie was waiting for us at the front door. I walked into her apartment and felt an incredible sense of peace. I sat Cassie down on Jeannie’s floor and expected her to bolt and hide under a sofa somewhere, as most cats and kittens do when first introduced to new surroundings. But that isn’t what happened.
Cassie looked around and actually seemed to have an _expression of delight on her sweet little feline face. She slowly and confidently walked from room to room, rubbing the sides of her mouth on every object that she could as she walked by. She looked at her brand new litter box as if to say, “Don’t worry. I know what that is for.”
Jeannie called her over, and Cassie made her way directly, swinging her bottom as she walked as if she really were somebody now. Tears welled in my eyes to see that her personality had remained intact. Looking at her now, no one could have known that she had just recently been within seconds of certain death. “Of course, I knew I would be rescued by someone!” she seemed to be saying.
Cassie will serve a purpose now as a lifetime companion to this lovely woman from the health food store, who is starting a new life in a new apartment. My guess is these two will become best friends.
I will never forget the look in this kitty’s eyes, when she looked back at me at the receptionist’s counter. We were her last hope. If, as I’ve always heard, the eyes are mirrors to the soul, Cassie reflected something to me that day — a vision of the commonality of spirit of all living beings. She reminded me to seize the day. God is compassionate.
Our animal companions, who dedicate their lives to helping us help their brothers and sisters, constantly remind us to keep bringing more love and light into this world. Without words, they teach us to never give up. They help us remember to be creative and flexible. They show us that when love and service are our motivators, miracles are possible.
Working hard to make a difference, Society for the Protection of Animals, Inc., P.O. Box 1047, Fremont, Ohio 43420. S.P.A. is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Donations are gratefully accepted. Check us out at www.spaohio.org
Allen and Linda Anderson are co-editors of “God’s Messengers: What Animals Teach Us about the Divine” (New World Library) and “Angel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals (Plume). Visit their website at www.angelanimals.net and sign up for the free Day Brightener online newsletter. Send your true stories to Angel Animals Network, P.O. Box 26354, Minneapolis, MN 55426 or you may send them by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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