I first noticed Noah, 9 years ago. It was the summer of 2002 and all I saw was a flash of orange and white darting across Rt. 29 (a very winding and fast road). I knew that it was a cat, but didn’t know anything about him except that he didn’t belong to our neighbors. I started putting bowls of cat food out, but when he saw me, he took off like a shot. Then one day in November, I noticed him going into a shed behind our house, so I began putting food and water out there. I made him a shelter (a cardboard box padded with towels and old sweaters) and could see after a few days that he was sleeping in it.
One day in January, I was mentioning this to a woman (that I barely knew) and she said, “I have a trap (sort of like a have-a heart) that I will bring to you tomorrow. You need to get him help. This week it’s going to be below zero. I also have a friend who runs a shelter out of her home. I’ll call her and get everything set up for you to bring him in as soon as you catch him.” I was a little stunned but it felt so right that I just said “OK. Thank you.”
The next day, I coaxed him into the carrier. By this time he trusted me enough to let me get close to him without running away…it even seemed like he was responding to my voice? We drove the hour to the shelter and I sat in the back seat and petted him through the grate. When we arrived, I looked at my hand and it was black with dirt. He hadn’t been able to groom himself, he was just barely staying alive. I felt a huge wave of guilt for not doing something with him earlier.
The woman who took him in said, ” Wow, he’s in rough shape. I’ve never seen an un-neutered cat of this age that didn’t have_______ (some cat disease that I cannot remember the name of), I’ll get him tested before we neuter him, but I don’t have much hope. If he is OK, do you want to adopt him?”
We said no, we didn’t…. that we already had 2 large dogs and an old cat (Chakra), none of whom liked cats, so we wanted to put him up for adoption. The truth was, I did want to adopt him, but couldn’t see how we would manage it, and Jack was even more skeptical. She said fine, that she would take his picture and put him on the internet if he was good to go. My heart ached a little at that…thinking about putting his picture out there for anyone to respond to, but I didn’t let myself think about it. Then she picked him up and said, “You are pretty dirty, but you are a handsome fellow!” I loved her for that.
Several days past and she called and said that he did not have that disease but that he had a very bad infection in his ears, worms, the whole nine yards. She said he would not have lived through the winter. She also said that after his medication was finished, he would be ready for adoption, and asked me to pick up the carrier/trap that I left there. I was planning on giving her a donation anyway, so I drove to her home with a bit of a heavy heart. I knocked on the back door and when she didn’t answer, I stuck my head in and said, “Hi____, It’s me, Mary Muncil”….a few seconds later she came to the door and said, “I was out with the cats and as soon as Noah heard your voice, he picked up his head!”
That was it. Those few words. He knew my voice. Every day for weeks, I had been calling to him, as I set out his food, I talked to him when I didn’t see him, never really knowing if I was making much of a connection. I didn’t know where we were going to put him to recover, how I was going to tell Jack, (who was sure that one of the dogs in particular was going to be a problem), how we were going to integrate him with our other animals, but none of that mattered….he knew my voice, and I knew that it was going to be OK.
“Lots of people talk to animals…. Not very many listen, though…. That’s the problem“. Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
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