by Lally (aka Gina DeNofa)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be truly happy? I have longed for this for several years. For people, this may not seem like a lifetime, but it is when you are a three-year-old cat, since it is my lifetime of wishing.
My name is Lally. I hope you can spare a moment. I just want to tell you a little about myself, and maybe you can help me figure out how to be truly happy. I was loosely owned by a person who didn’t consider giving me any veterinary care. So when I had another litter (I lost count of how many unwanted kittens I reared and lost), I and my two kittens found ourselves homeless once more, and we were taken to an animal shelter.
At first I was very scared but mostly for my babies. We weren’t used to such a big, booming place. However, we managed to calm down. And once we realized we had food and care every day, it didn’t seem so bad. I have heard from my next door cage mates that this is the place where homeless ones like us find homes! Hearing this raised my hopes! Not only would I finally have a family, but so would my kittens! Maybe the three of us could finally be truly happy.
But then the sneezing began. Oh, no! No-no-no! I found my kittens were sick! Colds for kittens are literally nothing to sneeze at; their young bodies can’t fight infection off as adult cats can! And because I was on my own when rearing them, I wasn’t able to eat enough to give them enough milk to stay strong.
But I tried my best to stay strong for them. I purred and trilled to the two shivering tiny bodies, and used my own torso as a blanket. Despite my best maternal efforts, I could hear the congestion in their delicate little lungs. My heart was breaking. I was failing them.
It was then that someone came and took my babies! I tried to follow the woman who seized them, but she gently held me back and kept me from jumping out of my square quarters. “I’m sorry, mama,” she said with a catch in her throat, “but I need to give these kittens to a foster home so they can get better. I wish you could go, too, but the foster home is full.”
Full. . . So is the shelter. She petted my head and closed my cage. And all I could do was watch through the bars of my metallic world and listen to my kittens’ cries fade as the woman left the room with them.
My heart felt torn, but deep down I knew it was for the best. I had to face reality. A shelter is not a place to rear young ones. They should be catered to and loved in a warm and quiet home. I lay back down in my corner of the cage and inhaled the blanket that was still covered with my babies’ scent. As I closed my eyes, I wondered and hoped that at least, they might be truly happy.
A few weeks later, I finally was taken out of the cage, but I recognized the scent of the person putting me in the carrier as one of those who are at the shelter every day. I was taken to see the shelter veterinarian, and she discovered that I was pregnant. Yes, I was expecting while already rearing two kittens. We cats are prolific breeders, which has been hurting our kind for many centuries.
I then felt the vet stick something tiny and sharp into my skin. It didn’t hurt, but I felt fatigue. When I eventually woke up, I found myself back in a cage, and my belly was shaved and had a line going across it. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I no longer felt the hurting urge to produce unwelcome kittens. Maybe if people now knew that this burden is no longer a worry, they’ll finally see me and take me home, and I could be truly happy.
No one has seen me. I still remain in the shelter, waiting to be noticed by the many onlookers who are looking to add a feline to their family. But most walk by my cage without even giving a sideways glance. I think if it wasn’t for the papers attached to my cage, no one would know I was even there!
I am starting to conclude that I’m not going to be able to go to a home. A home seems so out of paw’s reach for a black cat like me. I know I don’t stand out like the calicos and the pretty long hairs, but I can be wonderfully sweet and devoted if just given the opportunity to do so!
Now you know all about me. Lots of people at the shelter do. But I want to know about someone, too. Someone who sees me as not just a forgotten, adult black cat no one wants but as a cherished friend who is loved and who loves her family right back.
That is all I ask. Is it really that hard to be truly happy? I’m hoping that perhaps you can show me it isn’t.
Ed. Note: Lally (A23059460) is a 3 to 5-year-old Bombay mix who is waiting for foster or adoption, which is $15. She is spayed and vaccinated; optional testing for felv and fiv and chipping is available. You already know Lally’s story, so let your heart decide. ACCT Philly is at 111 W. Hunting Park Ave. Call 267-385-3800 or visit www.acctphilly.org.