About a month ago, in preparation for National Pet Memorial Day (which is today!), we asked OHH’s flock members to share with us their most heartwarming stories about the beloved cats in their lives. Unsurprisingly, because we have the best flock members ever, we received a number of beautiful stories, and are excited to publish two them today for your reading pleasure. And, because I wasn’t able to share all of my mother’s cat stories on yesterday’s 296th podcast episode, I’ve included one more for y’all today. So huge thanks to Flock members Beth Lily Redwood and Leslie Linder, as well as to my wonderful mother, Lisa Ruffolo!
Flock members, be sure to read on after the stories to find out how you can win a copy of Kind, Gretchen Primack‘s first book of moving, animal-inspired poetry!
Let a Black Cat Cross Your Path!
By Leslie Linder
First came Inca, who was living behind the county jail, accepting scraps of food from the imprisoned people. Feisty and adorable, Inca loved to give kisses on the lips. She came home right around Halloween time, and always retained her love of the holiday.
Sammy was a feral, born somewhere near our home. He moved into our cellar in Autumn. When I first made contact, I had kneeled down on the cellar stairs to have a look around. Suddenly, something large and bristly rubbed against my hand! Poor Sammy was so covered in burrs that he had to be shaved. He was always first to welcome new arrivals, including our retired racing greyhounds. I came to call him the Dog Whisperer.
Third came Rubeus, whom Sammy brought in from the woods before the latter’s death. Another sunny and loving cat, Rue helped to salve the loss of Inca and Sammy. And, just yesterday came Mystery, whom a friend trapped from the woods. He is another sweet, shy boy who will change us even as we change him.
I have always believed that black cats bring a little magic, wherever they go. And the magic of my group is definitely that of unconditional love.
Tribute to Lady Alfreda Butterfly Meow
By Beth Lily Redwood
Oh, those soulful green eyes and the delicate, graceful loveliness of you waiting in the window to greet me when I came home. The silky soft touch of your colorful calico fur and the sweet sound of your gentle purr when I whispered, “I love you, Alfreda.” The funny way you bounded into a room when we sang “America the Beautiful,” and the comforting feel of you curled up in the nooks and crannies of my arms and legs —all this and so much more, I miss about you, Lady Alfreda Butterfly Meow.
And yet your longest lasting legacy, the deepest debt of gratitude I owe to you is how you shared your suffering with me. Despite your pain and diminished abilities, you never lost your desire to be close to the family you loved. And I recognized myself in you, and that was the key that opened my heart to all animals as being the same as me in their pain and suffering and in the ultimate and complete value of their lives to them. So my vow then as it is to this day, 10 years later, is to be vegan and never again contribute to the suffering of any animal. Thank you, Alfreda.
By Lisa Ruffolo
Our new backyard opened onto a field that separated us from older houses lining a busy street. As soon as possible, we adopted a cat from the Humane Society, another male that my sister Elaine called Whisper. He was white with short, fine fur with a wisp of gray on his forehead. I remember him having blue-gray eyes, though that might not be accurate. In those days, the Humane Society didn’t have animals neutered, but gave you a voucher that would cover most of the cost of a neutering procedure at a vet’s office. Identifying with the cat, my father did not approve of neutering Whisper or anyone else. When it came time to take the cat to the vet for his procedure, Elaine gathered him up in her arms and walked him solemnly to the car, where my mother waited, engine already idling to run the air conditioning. Whisper scrambled out of Elaine’s grasp and shot across the driveway, through the backyard, and into the field as my father egged him on from an open window, “Go, Whisper, go.” Hours later, we found the cat hiding among pye weed and Queen Anne’s lace, smug and defiant. We had to make another appointment with the vet, and this time, Elaine tearfully wrapped him in a towel so he couldn’t see that she was taking him to the car until he was safely in it.
Happy National Pet Memorial Day, everyone!
–Alessandra Seiter, OHH Media Coordinator
Oh, hey there, darling Flock!
So you wanna win a copy of Kind by Gretchen Primack? Well, I can hardly blame you. After all, Gretchen’s poem “Love This” is being featured by the inimitable Carol J. Adams in the 25th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat, and a high school student in Milwaukee, WI recently advanced to the national 2015 forensics competition by reciting four poems from Kind. Have you seen Gretchen on the OHH TV show, by the way? Gosh, Gretchen is great…
ANYWAY! For your chance to win a copy of Kind, shoot an email to the ever-generous Anne Green — anne [at] ourhenhouse [dot] org — by midnight ET on Friday, September 18. Oh, and include your postal address.
Don’t forget to give lots of snuggles to your cat, dog, rabbit, etc. today and every day!