It seems fitting that this chapter in my story should come today, because it’s Celebrate Shelter Pets Day on Facebook! The Shelter Pet Project organized Celebrate Shelter Pets Day to bring attention to all the cats (and other animals) waiting for forever homes. But because my shelter story is far too legendary for a mere Facebook post, I’ve chosen to share it here as part of my memoir.
So, when I left off last week, the humans had just discovered my siblings and me. They tore us away from the bosom of our momma dog and brought us inside their home, where they poured water all over us and forced funny-tasting milk-like stuff down our throats. I mean, we ate it because we were hungry and all, but it didn’t taste anything like the milk either of our mommas had given us to drink!
It was almost a relief when they started giving us meaty-smelling glop instead — except that we got even more water poured all over us after each meal! I don’t know why the humans didn’t think we were capable of cleaning ourselves. They must have seen us disgustedly licking off all their soapy-water residue!
Anyway, a bunch of time passed and we got used to this weird routine and the comings and goings of the noisy humans and their oversized, round-faced kittens. And thank Bast they eventually stopped pouring water all over us!
Then all the humans gathered around their box to look at us. We knew something weird was going on. “You can only keep two of them,” the momma human told her kittens. “We have to bring the rest to The Shelter.”
Now, we knew what shelter was, but we had no idea what the humans meant by The Shelter.
The kittens petted all of us, and of course we responded in our usual way by purring and wagging our tails in delight.
“Why can’t we keep them all?” the female kitten said as her eyes leaked. “They’re all so cute!”
“Honey, we’ve already explained this to you,” the papa human said. “These little kittens will become grown-up cats, and we only have room for two. The people at The Shelter will find wonderful homes for the rest.”
This sniffling and eye-leaking and sobbing went on for a while longer, until each of the kittens had chosen one of my siblings. I was left in the box with two of my brothers.
The papa human put the three of us in a small plastic box and shut the door behind us. We wailed desperately as he picked our box up, walked out of the house, and put it in another little house that … started roaring! And then the house started moving! It was the worst thing ever! We screamed and cried and scratched at the walls of our prison until finally the box stopped moving and roaring.
Then it was another jolting trip through the hot summer air, into a building that reeked of dogs and cats and disinfectant.
This must be The Shelter, I thought. I wondered if this was the place momma cat had warned us about, where humans put kittens into stew pots and eat them for supper.
You’re not gotta get put in a damn stew pot! came the voice of an elderly cat sitting on the Shelter desk in a very dignified pose. These people are nice. And besides, I’m sure you’ll find a home really soon. Everybody loves kittens! Oh, cute little kittens! Can we bring one home, mommy? I want a kitten!
But does anybody care about us grown-up cats? Us old cats who just want a nice warm place to sleep and a soft and comfortable lap to enjoy for our golden years? Nooooo! We get to stay at the shelter forever!
Why are you being so mean? I asked her.
I’m sorry, sweetheart. She bowed her head and desultorily stroked her whiskers with a paw. The people here are really nice and they do the best they can to find homes for all of us. But I sometimes get so sad when I see kittens like you come and go while I stay here and the hope that someone wants to give a home to an old lady like me just withers a little bit each day.
I have to admit my heart ached for this poor old ladycat. I want to snuggle with you! I told her. Can you make them let me out?
You’re a sweet girl, she said as she rose up stiffly and rubbed her head against our portable prison. My name is Dolly.
“Well, I’ll be darned!” the human at the shelter desk said. “I’ve never seen Dolly act friendly to other cats. Especially not kittens!”