Left in front of a strip mall pet store after hours one rainy winter night, the manager found a shoe box sealed with duct tape on the door step the next morning. Inside the box he found a soggy orange cat, frightened and disheveled, but still alive. He patted him dry and placed the cat into the store’s display of frisky kittens for sale. Then he called Animal Refugee Response to rescue the sad creature.
As shelter director, I took the call on my way to work and stopped by the pet store soon after. One look at the discarded cat shivering in the back corner of the kitten display, I brought him home for some quiet time, before going to our shelter. He was clearly an experienced pet, well behaved in the house, and so happy to have a couch to stretch out on as he purred sweetly. Soon, it was clear that the handsome Scottish Fold would live with warmth and dignity for the rest of his life with me.
Scott, as he came to be known was a magnificent cat whose life experiences brought out some unusual behavior for a male feline. He could often be found grooming the newest refugees, even allowing them to nuzzle and bury their faces into his white belly, understanding their need to feel safe. Scott was an altruist in the truest sense of the word. And even as time past, and new happy memories filled his heart, Scott never let a day go by without expressing his gratitude for being rescued from the darkness of that box.
When Scott was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw it was the saddest of days. The aggressive tumor was inoperable and eventually made it hard for him to eat. Still he tried. He ate scrambled eggs, then baby food, and then finally only tuna juice. His last day Scott still expressed joy as I watched him silently creep through the grass toward a butterfly who had landed on a flower. That night, I fell asleep beside him, and I woke up when I felt his soft paw on my face. I opened my eyes and they met his, and then he took his last breath.