Currently we have three cats: Maysie, Kia, and Pinky. Kia is a short haired seal point and flame point mix, my beautiful, full of spunk and naughtiness, Siamese. Pinky is Kia's son, pure flamepoint with long hair, and I think he must have ragdoll in his genes because my son can carry him around on his shoulders, like a lamb, and Pinky does not complain. His story is another great story to tell because I nursed him back to life when he was on the brink of death as a little kitten. He holds a special place in all our hearts even if he is a little bit slow and awkward from his experience. It is what makes him such an amazingly gentle cat. Last of all, though she was one of the first cats we brought into our home, is Maysie. She is a long haired calico, though I believe she has Maine Coon in her blood too. That little M sits on her forehead, and so did her son Tiger, who passed away many years ago from a mysterious disease.
After living in a small apartment for five and a half years, we were finally told we needed to find a bigger place when I was pregnant with my fourth child. I do not blame the owners underneath us. Our tribe of children's feet running overhead probably sounded like thunder at times. We found a house not too far away and moved in on January 1st, 2004. Our cat Precious had passed away a few months before and we were catless for a few months. It was okay because we had lots of unpacking to do and a new baby to prepare for, so we figured after we were settled in we would search for a friendly feline.
Fast forward to April. Susanna was a month old and we were ready to find our new friend. We heard of a lady who took in strays. I took the children to go check out the kittens that were available. There were so many in her home! It was very hard to choose from, but JJ, my oldest, wanted an orange tiger cat. Francine brought out one of the litters and in the mix was a beautiful boy tiger. JJ fell in love and we decided he was going to be the one. Francine was happy to hear that we had chosen him, but she was concerned for the mother cat. She was still a kitten herself, not even a year yet. She was a beautiful calico, extremely friendly and she loved everybody. She purred happily as I stroked her fur as she laid on the floor with her kittens nearby. I asked what her story was. Francine explained that this cat had been found in an old abandoned shed in the woods with her six kittens. The mother cat was too friendly to have been a stray so she must have become lost when she was little after receiving a lot of love from her family. Maybe she could not find her way home and took shelter in the shed when she got pregnant. It was the only thing that made sense to us because she was too nice to have been given up easily.
"Please take her," Francine begged. "It's going to be very hard to place this mother cat because she isn't a small kitten anymore. You must take her and give her a good home."
I told her I would discuss it with Joe and get back to her later on. I left to go home, packing up my four children who I found had been very busy. (I know this may seem like a rabbit trail, but this is a very neat part of the story.) My two boys had discovered a motorcycle outside and had decided to sit on it to test it out. My younger one also found there was still a key in the ignition. He took it and tossed it into the grass of the yard and did not think anything of it. Francine's friend who owned the motorcycle discovered the key was missing. He asked the boys where it was and they told him in the grass. My heart stopped beating. I thought I was going to die. I marched over to them and took them aside. "You two had better start praying we find that key because if we don't you are in huge trouble!" Praying my own prayer I began walking around the yard searching everywhere for a silver sparkle that might be the key. JJ bowed his head and I watched him as he prayed. He began looking again and so did I, but before I took another step, I found the key right at my feet. It was like God put it there when our eyes were closed. I just had to share that part of the story because God is an amazing God!
To make a long story short, we decided to take Maysie and Tiger, and they settled down happily in our home. It was as if Maysie had always lived there. She flopped on our laps instantly, like she owned the place, and our house was now a complete home with our two kitties.
Fast forward 14 years...Maysie has outlived her son by 7 years already. We love her even though she is full of mischief, peeing on throw rugs, pulling her water dish across the kitchen floor, knocking down our trash barrel, eating broom bristles, tearing up papers left on the floor, begging for any bits of food we are eating, etc. We had to set up a system for the water and trash barrel that prevents her from pulling either of them over. Yet, she has never changed in her love for us, though she has tried to get out a few times. I think she still remembers being free as a kitten and the outdoor air calls to her. So, it was no surprise to find that after a friend of Ben's had left the door open that she had taken the chance to slip out and disappear into the nearby woods. I had noticed she was beginning to lose weight, even with the amount of food she was eating (or should I say stealing), and she was beginning to get a little aloof with us. A small bump had begun to form on her side too. After two weeks passed without any sign of her, I began to wonder if she had slipped out to pass away in the peacefulness of the woods around her. The not knowing was agony though, wondering if she was still alive, stuck somewhere, needing our help. We made some fliers that we put around the neighborhood in hopes that someone would give us a call if they saw anything. We prayed that she was okay and that God would bring her home to us again.
After the two weeks I received a call from a neighbor down the road. She had seen a little puffed tail go into the shed behind her house (Maysie had been trimmed with a lion cut so there was no mistaking that she was someone's cat). We raced over and called Maysie, looking everywhere for her little face in the middle of all the wood and junk inside the shed. Our search revealed nothing, so we left a little bowl of food on the floor and left. From that day on we began walking in the area every day, calling her, trying to lure her out. The food was eaten slowly, so we figured she was not starving. Then another call came...another neighbor saw her in the driveway, but we were away at the time. But now we knew the area she was living in and took great strides to search for her in the woods.
I still remember the day we saw her...it was about 7:30 at night and we were beginning to walk home disappointed again. Then I saw her face looking at me from the woods. I pointed and said, "Look! There she is!" Joe and I called, shook the bag of treats we carried with us, and he even sat down on the curb to see if she would come out. She simply stared at us, then laid down in the dirt with a look that said, "I am going to stay here. This is my home now." When we approached her she took off and disappeared into an old shed without a trace. We were in shock. Our cat had snubbed us and did not want us, or need us anymore. We decided to up our game. We got a have-a-heart-trap and set it out with some food in it. We only did it for a few hours because we did not want to catch a skunk or something unpleasant like that. The first day did not catch anything so we closed it for the night. The next day we did not open it, but a neighbor, who was helping us look, went walking and saw her sitting near the trap. He went home and got some food, setting the trap after she raced away from him. He went home and went about his business.
I was home getting ready to take the girls out. We had my niece and nephew here for the week and the girls wanted to go pet dogs at the pet store. "Before we go, let's take a walk and see if we see Maysie." They took off with Joe and a few minutes later the phone rang.
"We got her! She is in the trap!" Susanna yelled happily in the phone. We were a bit stumped at how she got in there, but the neighbor's wife told us her husband had set it. We were so happy to finally have her safe and sound! We got her to the house and let her out in the bathroom, where we could contain her. She cried, looking around with wild eyes, and hid behind the toilet for a while. She seemed disoriented and confused, and she was extremely skinny, weak, and shaky. She raced into the closet and hid in the blankets with her face peeking out. She let us touch her and talk to her. After about 30 minutes she came out of the closet, ready to leave the room. The wild look had left her eyes. She was our normal Maysie again. We pulled some gigantic ticks off her, put flea gel on her, and checked her over for anything else we did not want in the house. Satisfied with her condition, we let her out. She remembered where everything was, and was even happy to see the other cats, who did not know who she was and ran hissing out of the room. It had been three weeks, but now she was home again. I took her to the vet to make sure she was okay. It was an amazing blessing to find she did not have parasites (did she not eat while she was out there?), she did not have fleas, and though she did have a urinary infection, that was treatable. Everything else was fine, except for the large tumor that was found in her stomach. We knew of the lump, but did not realize how big it had become. So, my thoughts of her leaving were confirmed. She had left to die, but it was taking longer than she expected. Another week and she would have passed away from starvation and dehydration. She had gone from 12 to 7 pounds in those three weeks.
Even though the diagnosis was sad, we are glad she is home to pass away in the loving arms of her family. She seems well enough now, eating and drinking little bits all through the day. We don't know how much time we have with her, but we are going to enjoy every minute we have left. We are so thankful the Lord answered our prayers and brought her back to us. Amen!