A few years ago my kids and I were in a really difficult financial situation. We had lost our home, and ALL of our belongings. Everyone around us turned their backs, so we ended up staying in an extended stay hotel for a while.
During that time, I wrote this:
I was sitting outside on the stairs tonight, and a cat named ‘El Camino’ came and plopped down beside me, wanting to be petted and loved.
This sweet animal belonged to a lady who lived here, and – ironically – her name was Cat. When I first met El Camino he was so fat, and sweet, but he didn’t come to me that much. He was spoiled a lot too. Then Cat (the owner) left for Houston and put this little baby outside with no home, no owner, just abandoned and left to his own devices.
I didn’t know this until one day I went to her room and she had just disappeared. I asked a neighbor about the cats and he said she just left them
So El Camino disappeared too.
About 2 weeks later I heard a strange ‘meow’; it was the groan of a suffering cat. Looking around, I found a scraggly old cat that was pure skin and bones. He was so afraid and wouldn’t come to me….inching my way closer I realized it was El Camino. He had changed so much. *tears*…..why would that woman do this to a defenseless animal?
I called out his name and startled the poor thing, but then in some crazy cat-world he realized that I knew him and got up happily complaining to me.
I picked him up and held him close so that he didn’t wiggle right out of my arms, and took him home.
He ate as if he hadn’t had a morsel of food in weeks. He was scared, running and hiding from any noise, even a throat clearing. As I watched him standing there all weak, I couldn’t help but feel huge pangs of heartache rippling through me.
This once beautiful cat I knew that was chubby and healthy, always laying lop-sided on the arm of the couch, was now standing in front of me barely recognizable.
After that night, and each day for about a week, I would find him and bring him home to eat. On the days he wasn’t near, I would search for hours…..late into the night.
A good amount of time had passed and it seemed like he was gone for good. I couldn’t find him anywhere. It was disheartening and I beat myself up for not keeping him inside.
Every morning I would place a bowl of food outside my door. Waiting. Hoping. Then one afternoon I was sitting in the living area and El Camino jumped right up on the air conditioning unit outside, and I was SO HAPPY to see him!
It was such a relief because I knew right then and there that he knew where to come find food, and I could worry a little less about him.
After a while of him coming every day and emptying the bowl of food, he would just jump up on the AC and wait to be petted He came to visit, not just to eat! It was heart-warming. He was getting better, happier, right before my eyes.
Many days I would step outside the door and he’d be standing there looking at me, meowing, and then he’d follow me wherever I went. If I went in my car he would be at the road waiting until I got home.
The other evening I was really frustrated with my situation and needed to walk. I went all around our community – up and down the different stairways – and you know who followed me the entire way? Yep! El Camino! And he didn’t get tired either, keeping up with my pace. Every now and then he would cross in front and trip me, but that was so I would stop and pet him
Today I was sitting on the stairs and I heard him, but couldn’t see him. Then I saw him trampling down the hallway with his eyes square on me.
He rubbed up against me and gave me love. He was so happy. When I went home he followed me, ate a bit, and rested for the longest time on the AC.
It is now after 10pm, and I am sitting on the stairs typing up this huge message on my little Blackberry phone. Why? Because of this sweet little cat looking all happily up at me.
He’s been at my side for well over an hour now. Anytime someone comes up or down the stairs he runs, but always returns to me.
I watched him for about 15 minutes, just really trying to figure him out.
He no longer carried the look of desperation that I had seen in his eyes so many weeks ago. No! It was a look of hope.
He was dumped on the street, lost and alone….left to fend for himself.
It was through luck that I found him, or vice versa, and took him home to eat.
I didn’t judge him by how dirty and smelly he was, or by how skinny he looked. I didn’t ask if he had another caretaker. I saw a need in him, and I stepped in to fill it.
This little cat was dying out here all alone. He went from a lively, frolicking little puss, to a lonely, desperate, lost feline.
All he wanted was someone to give him what he had once before, and was missing now:
A home, food to eat, and a loving hand.
He found them with me….because no one, no matter who (or what) they are, deserves to be thrown on the street.
El Camino is sleeping soundly next to me now, on the hard cement stairs, but do you think he cares? No. And why? Because tomorrow he will know where to go and find food, love, and the safety he needs from the outside world.
I only wonder…..when will I?
Please be kind to everyone, and don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Reach out and lend a hand, or even a morsel of food because you never know what impact that may have on somebody’s life.