Twelve days ago as I prepared breakfast I heard an incessant meowing outside the front door. Our neighborhood borders woods that have feral cats and sometimes the mothers venture into our yards but they are wild and flighty. This kitten was about three months old, and wait for it—she was limping. She was holding her back right hind leg off the ground. She implored me loudly to fix her situation. I pretended I was not a softy closed the door and ignored her. Jeff tried to shoo her away; she hid behind our shed.
She was still there when I returned that afternoon. Out she hopped and resumed announcing her state of unhappiness. I fed her but I didn’t touch her. She was wary but definitely used to people and not feral. I have a history of rescuing handicapped and abandoned animals so this was a soft spot for me.
My first job as a teenager was at our local Humane Society and I knew injured or handicapped animals did not stand a chance of being placed for adoption. At eighteen I championed a puppy dumped over our gate during off hours, he had hereditary glaucoma and would die unless the vet attempted a radical and expensive surgery—removing his eyes for $150.00. The vet and our staff said he was a lost cause there were so many more animals that could be saved for such an investment. I refused to give up on him. I wrote and read a letter to our board of directors in the voice of this puppy asking for the opportunity to raise the money and give him a chance at life. It was a unanimous vote and D.O.G. the floppy pup with the bulging eyes and lolling tongue and me appeared in a small newspaper article. His vet bill was paid half a dozen times that very day and the donations poured in; we received $5000 which was earmarked to save handicapped animals in the future. D.O.G. had his surgery, became our mascot, and went home with me when I left my job at the Humane Society. His zest for life inspired and motivated me to live my life to the fullest and actualize the impossible.
I asked Jeff to take the injured kitty to the Humane Society as I couldn’t do it. He agreed. Their website informed us they were closed on Wednesdays. It was of course Wednesday. She stayed another day. I called the Humane Society Thursday and a staff member explained they could not accept an injured animal and animal control would only hold an injured stray for seven days and then euthanize her. Boy did this kitty pick the right door to knock on.
I continued to feed her but for the first time I stroked her thin frame and instantly despite her difficult life felt her purr of gratitude. Her leg was not injured on the outside, she didn’t want me to touch it but it did not seem to hurt her. I called our local vet who is about to retire any day and was told they did not do x-rays or surgery. I called back to plead her case and they said they’d see her. My daughter volunteered to take her and I paid for vaccinations and worming as she was infested with fleas. The vet pronounced her leg to be an old injury that healed poorly and left her unable to use it but it did not appear to cause her any pain. My daughter returned her along with kitten food a litter box and litter and announced she was not under any circumstances going to animal control. She was smitten—like momma like daughter eh?
Kitty hops along with her back leg tucked up while the paw dangles. But I have seen her stretch the leg backwards and she can put it down but it doesn’t hold her weight. I took her in the bathroom the day of the vet visit and used a flea comb borrowed from my daughter who lives with three cats. I combed at least fifty fleas off of her the first night and that many the next night. It was getting cold at night but she slept curled in the ferns below the sweet gum by our porch. A friend shared where to buy an individual tube of Advantage to kill the fleas which worked wonders. My (delusional) plan was to have her care paid for and then try and find her an appropriate home. Little did I know she had already found the ideal home.
We’ve been pet-less by choice for eight years since we moved to town. Jeff is allergic to cats (and horses) and was always a trooper while Brin was growing up and we had a menagerie of animals including three cats and two horses. Plus I ran a pet boarding kennel and a pet sitting business for four years including in-home care. I was dearly ready to be animal free after that career. Over the years I’ve loved on other people pets and realized how much I missed having the presence of unconditional love in my life. But there is also a responsibility to a pet that I wasn’t ready to take on. I might be willing to commit to caring for this kitten today but that means caring for her for fifteen years or more—for her life. Am I ready for that?
Once the fleas were gone she came inside and made herself at home on my lap or chest or legs; wherever I was sitting so was she. When I caught myself trying out names for her I knew I couldn’t let her go. And so I thought about the serendipities that connected us. How she found a person who would take her in despite her gimpy leg; how she had survived such an injury as a homeless kitten in the first place. What force was working behind the scenes here? It was only a week until Thanksgiving and I wanted a name that fit how I felt about her appearing in my life when I wasn’t even aware how much I needed to stroke a warm soft cat body and feel her contented vibration under my hand.
And so Amazing Grace has become a part of our family (Jeff remains allergy free so far), Gracie for short as she is kinda klutzy but oblivious to this fact. Her personality is endearing and silly she’s not always the sharpest tool in the shed but she has three strong legs and cattitude—the ability to nonchalantly groom herself after a mishap and pretend she meant to do that.
I am immensely grateful for the many ways grace has shown up in my life and showered me with blessings; family, friends, work, and a life I love. The Universe is always listening—always, and all ways. My favorite version of this song is a track on Conversations With God where Cathy Bolton sings a variation of the original lyrics:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved and set me free.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Welcome home, Gracie.