A morning review of security camera footage revealed a partially-grown, petite kitten seeking shelter on our porch. She had spent some of the night huddled beside a concrete cherub as if it were her guardian angel. But wind and heavy rain forced her up onto the narrow, brick sill outside our kitchen window.
The day prior, as I sat down to breakfast, I’d glimpsed a man on our front walk. He hurried towards the porch steps then as quickly, reversed direction and ran off. It was the usual time for a major delivery company’s rounds, so I’d assumed he’d dropped a package and run because it was raining.
A glance out the window found no package, and, there was no vehicle in the drive or roadway. He could’ve been a would-be intruder who had likewise seen me, or a thief hoping to steal a delivery made the previous morning … either way an unwanted visitor.
After double checking my locks and security set up, I notified some neighbors to watch for this individual and asked if they’d noticed any unrecognized vehicles on our dead-end street.
But by the following day, I was more worried about the malnourished-looking cat than I was the trespasser. We set out dry cat food, water and a makeshift bed on the porch.
In the morning some of the food was eaten. The bedding was unused but video had recorded the tiny cat curled next to the cherub during the night. We started making plans to catch and help her if possible. But the food we kept putting out attracted an opossum and raccoons (who tried to open a window screen) so kitty quit coming around.
After a few days we thought the chilly nights or wildlife had claimed her, but finally saw her trying to burrow into a safe spot near our storage shed.
On the first attempt to lure her with food, she ran into the woods. The next evening brought better results. I got close enough to hear her issue a feeble hiss. She seemed weak due to hunger and was showing early signs of developing a cold.
Sadly, there are feral cats surviving in the neighborhood but this little gal was definitely not feral – she wanted affection and love as much as she wanted food – and eventually came back to begin rubbing against our legs for attention.
It was apparent that she had been dumped abruptly and without concern for her life. She had known human touch and company but now was thrown out to survive on her own.
This was not the first young cat to be found on our street.
Three years ago an unknown woman parked by our garage, left her car door open, walked briskly to the door, knocked softly, then immediately left after looking directly into one of our cameras. Shortly after I saw a white bag lying at the bottom of our driveway. The bag turned out to be a beautiful blue-eyed cat whom we were able to place with a friend.
In recent years one neighbor tried to feed two different cats in her yard but they disappeared before they could be helped. Another neighbor adopted one after grabbing her from the street as a car set her out and drove off. And an even sadder situation involved a very old dog left to die on someone else’s porch.
It took us awhile to connect the appearance of the kitten with the stranger running from our house, but it seemed the events might be related.
After feeding and petting the purring stray we thought she’d let us put her in a crate, but instead she fled back to the building where she hid for the night. We spent the night worrying that the red fox who lived about 50 yards from where she was would hunt her down.
The next morning we were relieved to find her trying to catch her breakfast near our garage. A large carrier with treats tossed in the back was all it took to load her up and get her to our veterinarian.
The easy part was providing the care she needed to be healthy.
But the hardest part was next: where would she live now that she was rescued?
We have four cats, the eldest of whom has kidney disease and crippling arthritis, his condition too frail for the stress of adding a new cat to the household.
So the search for a permanent home, foster care or no-kill shelter began. The first group turned her down because they had over 100 cats. It was June, which is “kitten season,” the time when the most kittens are born that end up in shelters. Likewise, the people who I asked if they or someone they knew would provide her a great home could not do so.
After persuading one group with reminders of previous and promises of future food donations, a no-kill rescue with “only” 29 cats there looking for placement, agreed to take her.
“Foxy,” as we started calling her, was ready to go from the clinic after 10 days. I picked her up and reluctantly drove to the shelter. When I arrived, I sat there awhile watching a healthy but forlorn tuxedo kitty gazing out a window. I didn’t want to turn her over.
Just as I made myself reach for the car door handle, my phone notified me of a new text. It was from the last person to whom I’d sent the kitty’s picture. They fell in love just from seeing her and wanted to adopt! This family was known to me as compassionate animal caregivers, and would give Foxy a loving, happy home.
Even after being hauled around in the back of my car for an hour, Foxy purred loudly when she met them. Both adopters went equally bonkers over her, kneeling on rough concrete to pet her through the carrier and whisper gently to her. It was a match made in heaven.
I had asked a large group of Episcopalian (and other) cat people to pray for Foxy’s safety and adoption. Maybe indeed there was a guardian angel watching over her because those prayers were answered.
In my not-so-humble opinion, this joyous miracle could have occurred sooner. But all things happen in God’s time frame — not mine — and this matter worked out exactly as it was meant to be.
One of our greatest, God-given callings on this earth is our stewardship of His creatures who depend upon us. As part of this obligation, I pray regularly for dogs, cats and all needy creatures.
I have a hard time directing any charitable, Christian thoughts (they are distinctly rather unchristian fantasies) towards those who neglect, abuse or abandon an animal. I do acknowledge, albeit grudgingly, that I need to pray for those individuals as well, that God opens their hearts and minds, and that He fill them with compassion for all sentient beings.
I pray also that those with animals in their lives be provided the means, ability – and desire — to care for them as long as they shall live. (And I pray to be relieved of my bad attitude towards non-animal lovers.)
Let your angels keep watch over all your creatures. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
“…you save humans and animals alike.” (Ps 36:6c)
Lexiann Grant is a retired writer & author, a former chalicer and layreader, but still an Episcopalian who enjoys encountering God in the mountain backcountry