I was driving home from school and absentmindedly took a different way home. After teaching all day, I had homework to print for my graduate class and a million things on my mind as I zoomed home on rt. 114. I spotted, sitting roadside, a tiny orange kitten, waiting patiently as a pedestrian waiting for the southbound bus. I pulled over, knowing that someone needed to take responsibility for this little guy, fearing that he might at any moment dart into the busy street. With the help of another lovely young lady, I loaded this little guy into my car and drove off to attempt to find him a home.
He was infested with fleas, clearly malnourished, but generally friendly and in good spirits. His initial friendliness towards me made it clear that I wasn't his first human. His unique coat and wide eyes are captivating. I loved him, but I knew I wouldn't be able to keep him. I have two dogs at home and know nothing about raising a kitten. We had always adopted adult cats- after fostering kittens as kids, my parents were always openly anti-kitten. He was so adorable, it was difficult to exclude the possibility of calling him mine.
It was a Monday, and naturally every shelter known to me or made known through a quick cell phone google search was either closed or full. I made a few calls to friends who foster with no success. I, regretfully, made the call to the local SPCA, who's status I know to be generally at capacity and under supplied/funded. Begrudgingly, the woman on the phone requested a description. After some time, she said I could bring him by, but I had to be there by 4:30. How shitty of me, to find a cat who has been living out on the street- give him some basic love and care- only to leave him at a shelter where he'll sit from 5:00 when they close until 9:00 the next morning when their first employee opens up.
He couldn't come home with me- he was entirely infested with fleas. I treated him with an oral and topical flea control, but had to quarantine him for the time being. Naturally, he ended up at my studio- for several days, he lived in the restroom with his litter box and his bed. I had to use the flea comb to remove the millions of dead fleas from his soft fur- between his toes and ears. He got several hours a day to explore the studio and play with whatever he could find.
After hanging up with the SPCA, I made a decision. He could stay, under the condition that he act like, and get along with my dogs. With that, we began leash training. Several weeks later, he loves riding in the car, walking on his leash, and terrorizing my dogs. We are still working on his obsession with the litter box, but he makes amazing progress each day. Finding stray animals and working with animal rescues leaves me feeling an overwhelming sense of disappointment and sadness. Pets are a lifelong commitment- they're not a disposable item.
In three weeks of owning this cat, I've already spent several hundred dollars on vet visits, shots and supplies. He needs to eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. If you're incapable of properly financing a pet, then don't get one. If everyone made the responsible decision to fix/neuter their cats and dogs, we wouldn't have this stray epidemic that we're seeing today. I've begun running pet paw print workshops with my studio sister In God We Trust Ceramics at Weirdgirl Creations in Barrington. We're donating $5 from every print to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC- a rescue organization in New York rescuing dogs from some of the most heinous abusive and negligent conditions in the country. They not only foster and re-home these animals, but they provide life saving veterinary care and work to influence legislative change to better the lives of animals everywhere.
His new life beats his street life one million to one. How so many people could ignore this sweet boy is beyond me. How anyone could eat, abuse or neglect another living thing is also beyond me. Freddy Mac is a constant reminder- why we will never use animal products in the production of our garments. Why we will always work to give back where others won't. Why we will continue to shine a light on animal cruelty and animal agriculture. Animals are not ours to use, entertain with or eat. They are living creatures who experience love, sorrow, joy, pain and relationships the same way we do. Click here to learn more about our process and promise.
I'd love to hear about your furry kids! Have a rescue story? Share below- together we can end irresponsible breeding practices. Adopt don't shop!
Click any of the links to make a direct donation to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC or join us for one of our pet paw print workshops in our Barrington RI studio.