The Chopping Block
My first ever cat since I moved out of my mother's house is named Luke. I got him on a hot day from an animal services shelter. I went behind the cages, waited for my box of kittens that I was taking to a shelter.
All cats get nine days until they are rescued. Each day, I think they lose a life. It is not an unclean place, but it is crowded. They were giving the kittens the rabies shots and as they did I examined a cage in which a cat named "Smokey" was housed.
I was very depressed at the time. I was failing my university classes and at 20 years of age I was still considered a Sophomore. I live alone in a large dorm room. I had made no friends the entire spring semester that I had been in school. I had a medical withdrawal for the semester. I came back for the summer to take classes. I also volunteered for a cat rescue program on the weekends.
I was miserable and as I looked at the overweight cat in the cage, an old cat, a hopeless cat, whose eyes spoke to me of pain and experience. I understood. I felt what he felt. The cage, the walls of the dorm, crushing in on me. My performance was expected to be good or I would be cut out, put on the chopping block. For "Smokey", it was his 9th day.
After seeing the hopelessness in his eyes I told the clerk that I would like another carrier. He was coming home with me. They were delighted. He was a cat with very few prospects, overweight and 7 years old and not attractive. Who would want to adopt that?
I wasn't sure how I was going to get him into the dorms, but that was another matter. I had to drive the kittens to the vet.
I had a car accident on the way. Calling 911, my terror escalated as Texas' staple F-250s drove around both sides of my tiny Hyundai Accent on the freeway. The other driver was fine. The firemen showed up. I told them I was fine and the man I hit had been moving around and using his phone. I cried and asked them to check the kittens. The fireman opened up the box and confirmed that they were perfectly fine.
He asked me about the cat in the front seat. I looked down a "Smokey" who was quite asleep. Rationally, I knew I had been paying attention and that at worst the collision was a liscence plate bender.
The emergency crews made way for me and the other driver to pull into a mall parking lot. As I exchanged information it became noticable that I had been scammed, and not very well. I worried over the kittens and checked them myself. I became inreasingly wary of the other driver. He tried being nice at first, then stern, then he said he had called the police. I had no relatives in the area so I called my Pastor.
Unfortunately, I was also out of gas. The cats were crying. My Pastor brought me some gas and she spoke to the other driver. I knew I was in a mall parking lot, private property. The police were unlikely to come. I called my insurance, the woman on the phone was extremely friendly and supportive. As I talked to her I opened the cardboard carrier next to me, took the large cat out and cuddled with him.
After everything was straightened out I rolled down my window and told the other driver "No fault." As I drove away, my hand in the box next to me, stroking the cat. The kittens had gone to their destination with my pastor.
I was scared but fine. The car did indeed have a slight dent in the license plate. (Later, my insurance company said my car didn't even need to be looked at, they gave the other driver $100 and my rates didn't go up).
I felt like I was on the chopping block at that time in my life, so was this cat I had in the car with me when I parked at the dorms. I felt like some sort of force had brought us together. I am a huge Star Wars fan. So I decided to rename him Luke after Luke Skywalker.
Getting him into the dorm was an adventure. I put the carrier he came in inside another box and covered tht box with clothing. I walked him up the stairs like that. I let him out in my room. He hid for ten minutes, then he jumped up on the bed with me.
We were kindred spirits experiencing change in a time of pain. We were like peas and carrots. I ended up leaving school for the summer and the fall semester. I now have my own apartment. I have my Luke with me. (And another cat named Harvey who is a story for another day).
I go to school and though I still don't have many friends, I am engaged and I love my major. Luke, who was on his last day will spend the rest of his days with me, eating the best food and sleeping in all the best nooks and crannies of my body at night.
There were times last year when I lost hope, but he was always there. Yes, he's older, he isn't the cutest thing ever (but neither am I), he is picky about food but he loves his life. He plays with toys and has lost weight. I promised myself to stay in school so that I can take care of him and start a family later in life.
It may be funny for a cat to be your motivation to keep on going, but it certainly is a good motivation.