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Eyes Are The Mirrors to Our Soul
By Barbara McGrady

(Editor's Note: Barbara McGrady Is President of Society for the Protection of Animals. She volunteers most of her time to animal welfare issues. The following is a true "tail".)

"Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect."
Chief Seattle

Last Saturday, my husband Terry and I were sitting at our vet's office waiting for our turn for the vet to look at Van Gogh, a cat we rescued from the fairgrounds three years ago. He has a chronic problem with feline blistering disease (an autoimmune problem).

While there, a young woman walked in with a little cat clutched close to her breast. There was also an older woman and a really cute, talkative little boy who was about three years old. They stood at the counter for a considerable length of time, waiting for the receptionist to return. She was in the back checking on another animal's test results for someone on the telephone.

During their wait, the little boy struck up a conversation with Terry and me. He said they had two cats, but one was run over, and that now they have one. And that cats belong outside, not inside, and that one cat was plenty. His cat was all white and his name was Casper, he said.

Listening to him reminded me of just how much of "us" is reflected in our children. I continued to listen, while all the while watching the reactions of the two adults who accompanied him.

The younger woman holding the cat had a strange, cold, emotionless look on her face. She would not make eye contact with me, even when I asked, "So why do you have a sweater on your cat. What is wrong with her today?"

She stared off into space and in a barely audible voice said, "She's got bad sores on her neck." I still didn't understand the sweater.

I heard her say "mom" to the older woman with her. The little boy was the older woman's grandson, as he called her grandma. The woman holding the cat was the little boy's aunt.

The grandma seemed annoyed it was taking so long as she tapped her foot continually against the floor.

The receptionist came back to the counter, and I strained to hear the muffled voice of the woman holding the cat... "We need to have her put to sleep," she said to the receptionist.

The receptionist began filling out the papers and looked a little perplexed. Even though people working at a vet's office deal with this sort of situation everyday, I bet it never becomes easy for them.

The cat was young, a dilute tortie. The cat's eyes were clear and defined as she made direct eye contact with me as I sat on the bench waiting for our turn. Without hesitation, I stood up and walked very close to the women and said in a low voice, "If finances are a problem, our organization can help."

The older woman said, "Well, finances are only part of the problem. Our apartment manager won't allow more than one pet and we just got a dog."

I looked into her daughter's eyes as she held the cat and said,"What about you? Do you want us to save your cat?"

She said, with tight lips, that it was up to her mother, so I turned back to the mother and said, "We will take over total responsibility for this cat if you will allow us to do so. We will pay for all medical expenses and find her a loving home. If you decide to put her to sleep, you certainly can. She is your cat, after all. The decision is yours."

I looked into the daughter's eyes and for the first time saw a spark of life. She had seemed as if she were in a zombie like state. The frown lines on her forehead now eased as she faintly smiled.

The mother was realizing, I think, that she would be saving the euthanasia charges, and said, "Well, I guess that would be better than putting her to sleep".

As I looked up, my husband and Van were gone. They had been called into the exam room without my knowing. As I hurried away I said, "Don't worry, I promise we will place your kitty in only the best of homes."

Van Gogh's exam took an unusually long time, as there were many possible treatments for his auto- immune problem. When the exam was over, Terry walked out into the waiting room with Van. I was packing up things we had brought with our cat when I heard a sound, looked up, and saw the young woman approaching me.

Tears streamed down her face as she said, "I wanted to wait to be able to tell you how happy you made me just now. I didn't want my cat to die. She was fine until my mom got a dog, and I think she has really bad fleas from the dog going in and out, so I made her the sweater to try to keep her from scratching. I really love her, and I want to thank you for saving her life."

A lot became obvious to me just then. I hugged her with all my might and told her that I didn't offer to save the cat JUST for the cat's sake, but also for her sake. I told her that I somehow sensed her pain and knew she was hurting very badly. I looked her in the eyes and said, "Hey, Happy New Year. We'll take good care of your cat, I promise."

For the next week we boarded the cat, whose name is Cassie. She received all of her first shots but could not be spayed until her sores were healed. She had a horrible case of fleas, and had an allergic reaction to their bites. She received an injection to help her heal and can be spayed in the near future.

Cassie quickly showed us that she is a sweetheart with a splendid personality. I visited her and watched her personality slowly unfold. The girls at the vet's office worked with her to calm her down, I think, because they said she was a little nasty the first few days. She was afraid, I'm sure, being put into a cage without knowing what was going to happen to her. You see... she had no idea exactly what was in store for her. Actually, neither did I.

Society for the Protection of Animals is a very small, nonprofit, animal welfare organization with limited funds. Very limited funds. But my inner voice SHOUTED to me that day that this kitten was intended to live and I was the one intended to see that she was.

We rarely get a call from anyone interested in adopting an adult cat. But three days ago a woman from our local health food store called to say she was divorced, had moved into a new apartment and was looking for a loving cat to sit on her lap and keep her company.

Sometimes things seem to happen in a synchronistic way. I don't claim to understand it, but since I've begun doing animal rescue, I've seen it again and again, and realize what a blessing it is to serve these sometimes unappreciated creatures.

I picked Cassie up at noon from the vet's today and took her to her new home. Jeannie was waiting for us at the front door. I walked into her apartment and felt an incredible sense of peace. I sat Cassie down on her floor and expected her to bolt and hide under a sofa somewhere, as most cats and kittens do when first introduced to new surroundings. But that isn't what happened.

Cassie looked around and actually seemed to have an expression of delight on her sweet little feline face. She slowly and confidently walked from room to room rubbing the sides of her mouth on every object that she could as she walked by. She looked at her brand new litter box as if to say, "Don't worry, I know what that is for."

Jeannie called her over to her, and she made her way directly swinging her bottom as she walked as if she really were somebody now. Tears welled in my eyes to see that her personality had remained intact. Looking at her now, no one could have known that she was within seconds of a certain death. "Of course I knew I would be rescued by someone!" she seemed to be saying.

She will serve a purpose now as a lifetime companion to this lovely woman from the Health Food Store who is starting a new life in a new apartment. My guess is they will become best friends.

You know, I will never forget the look in this kitty's eyes as she looked back at me at the receptionist's counter. We were her last hope. If, as I've always heard, the eyes are the mirrors to the soul, Cassie reflected something to me that day, a vision of the commonality of spirit of all living beings. Seize the day. God is compassionate.

See Also:

Pet Therapy Infocenter in Holisticonline.com

The Shelter Cat
Even the most forgiving cat lover would have deemed her ugly, but she had twice the personality of her sisters.

The Power of Pets
There's something between animals and owners that can be magical. While children may grow into ornery adolescents, pets don't have mood swings or meltdowns, and they never talk back. They're loyal and lovable; and even if we're irritable, they adore us unconditionally.

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About SPA:

Society for the Protection of Animals, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that is working hard to make a difference in this world. All of the animals they rescue rely on your continued financial support! Visit their website at: http://www.spaohio.org
Barbara McGrady, P.O. Box 1047, Fremont, Ohio 43420, 419-334-2773


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