By Mitch Aultman
We don't trap-neuter-release (TNR) these cats that need us without knowing that one day the day we dread to face will be realized. We know that each day we spend with these mesmerizing creatures could, at any time, be the last.
We always hope it will never happen, but we know that their lives are not long by house cat standards; and, some live extraordinarily long lives by feral standards. That makes us happy because it gives us more time. They make us happy as our relationships develop. A whistle and four legs spring out of their hiding places as they recognize our signal, or the sounds of our cars, just a cat, just vermin, not worth anything, so, so very untrue. Love abounds between us and them. Trust is a measure of success, especially, when we've reached one and they respond to us, so contrary to their nature. We each have those little heart flips when something new happens. Each achievement, each new level of trust is important to us than any milestone in the average person's life. Because we are doing the extraordinary, the unexpected work of reaching the lost hearts and souls of those who are abandoned. They aren't just cats. They are the special ones we've chosen to dedicate ourselves to.
None of this comes lightly, we sacrifice in many ways, none of which we complain about because it is our nature. It is what gives meaning to our lives. It is also what will make the difference one day when people finally understand what it is that this insane and crazy person is actually doing. One day, it will all make sense to them. In the meantime, we celebrate our successes, we look forward to each visit we make with our special friends. Our hearts lift when they venture into new territory with us and finally break the barriers. We know we've made a difference and we know without a doubt that we matter. We know that they love us, when they trust us. We know the bond is there. We may never touch them, but still the love is there, the trust as well. That’s important.
We've achieved something that we never dreamed in our early years would matter so greatly to us, but it does. And then one day, the day we know will come, the day it ends, our hearts break, our tears flow, and pieces of our soul remain with them as they make their way to their everlasting home. Their memories, their stories, their presence in our lives are what makes us different, what makes us "not crazy", but compassionate in extraordinary ways.
Rest in peace, my beautiful and wonderful little man. I don't know why you were where you were, why I found you there or why it ever had to be in the first place, but you were. You gave me joy, love and trust and it changed me. It changed me greatly. I never wanted this day to come, but it did. I will never forget you. I never touched you, but I loved you and I know you loved me too in your own way. Your eyes told me every time we met for all the years I was lucky enough to be your person and caretaker. I can see that love shining brightly from your eyes in all my pictures. You were a street cat by circumstance, but no less important because of it. You mattered. You were important. And now you are gone, but will always be in my heart.
This story’s author, Mitchelyn Aultman, is Director of a nonprofit organization in the Albany/Leesburg, Georgia area called CatNappers. Facebook/Catnappers