CATherine the Great

One sunny southern California afternoon, I took my dog for a walk. On this day, we decided to do a loop around the neighborhood and venture down 2 nearby streets. In the distance I witnessed a small creature tumble from the curb, land in the street, and remain motionless. A few steps closer lead Boston, my overly skittish dog, and I to realizing that this little creature was a small white kitten… no more than a handful in size. In order to prevent little kitty from becoming a play-toy, I tied Boston to a tree and ventured to see more closely the situation at hand…

Cats run. And so, I expected this kitten would scurry at the first sight of me. However, this was not the case… as sickness had glued her eyes and nose shut– preventing her from being able to see me. When I “Here kitty, kitty, kittied” her… she moved slowly towards me, and that is the precise moment my heart melted. She couldn’t be more than a few weeks old, I thought, and where the hell was mommy? I took myself a quick look around, asked two uninterested neighbors (who happened to be outside at the time) if this little being belonged to anyone and the response went without hesitation “She’s A Stray”.

Interestingly, the only thing running through my mind was… “We all need a little love some times”. It seems perfect that the most inspiring of moments are never the ones we plan for in our agenda books. They are never the moments that we made it on time, or prepared to encounter. They simply are… presented to us, as a thing to embrace or a thing to refuse… according to our level of acceptance in the unfolding of spontaneous life. Could I leave you here? No. That was never an option. And, for most people… I think that would be the case. It’s damn hard to walk away from a tiny, helpless, little thing… without a pervading tinge of human kindness to redirect priority. So… I cupped her in my hand, untied my dog and began walking the three of us.

My heart was pounding. Firstly, because Boston has a slight fixation on little white moving objects (and seemed devishly enamored by what I was holding) and I could barely restrain her. Secondly, our route home just so happened to intersect a plethora of neighbors, walking anxious dogs, who therefore excited both me and my dog into a slight jog. And thirdly, I now felt a great sense of responsibility for this kitten… Adrenaline.

But, was it MY responsibility? Was it just a stroke of luck that this kitten just so happened to find ME? Or did I find IT? Either way, I began to laugh… because, it seems more often than not, my days are filled with unexpected adventure. And, I could only imagine the look on my Mom’s face when I walked in with this little thing. I won’t say I make it a habit of taking in strays but, I will say… Strays make a habit of being taken in, by me LOL. I find it quite interesting when people call me “An Animal Lover”. Frankly, I was raised believing that Love makes no exceptions. It just is what it is… it has the ability to be given freely, and or restrained, regardless of the subject for which that Love is being offered or denied.

My beloved Boston, rescued in 2007:

Baby (on the left) rescued from the streets 7 years ago, and Rizzo was welcomed into the family 14 years ago:

It was too late in the day to take her anywhere. So, overnight she would stay. I hoped only that she would make it through that night to see a more positive tomorrow…

First Stop: Burbank Animal Shelter where upon arrival, I was immediately handed a consent form that boldly read: WE ARE NOT A NO KILL SHELTER and once an animal is handed over, all decisive rights are relinquished to the staff. (Disclaimer: I have no intentions of discrediting the amazing work this place does for thousands of animals in the area)

When the abrasive woman at the front desk greeted us with: “Oh, that cat is really sick. She won’t make it” I asked, “Well, what are my options?”
“She has an Upper Respiratory Infection so, we can pump her with fluids for an hour but, she probably won’t get better”
“Ok… well, can I stay in the room with her while she gets the fluids?”
“No, she is too small and she was separated from her mother too early”
“So, you are telling me my only option is to leave her here… where you will leave her alone in a cold room, inject her with fluids, return in an hour to check her status, and then kill her anyways because you have no place to put her?”
“We literally have thousands of cats… and not enough cages and she is too sick”
“Where can I find a No Kill Shelter?”
“They don’t exist”, she said.
I could tell this woman was just not in the mood for saving a life, “If you help me, help her, I will give her a loving Home…”

Suddenly, a tinge of warmth replaced the hopeless nature of a woman seemingly disinterested in helping… and she handed over a list of Vets, circled the best option, and said “You have to take her immediately”. Thank You, for the referral, and No Thank You for the pessimism (I thought)

Second Stop: Angelus Pet Hospital. I can’t praise this place enough! The woman at the front desk couldn’t have been more opposite, in demeanor, from the woman we encountered at the shelter. She kindly told us to bring the cat right over and the doctor would skip lunch to check her out.

When I brought her in, the first thing doc said was: “What a beautiful little kitten!” He verified that she did indeed have a URI and with an injection, antibiotics, eye drops and a flee bath she would be strong enough to live. I smiled at the fact that all it took was a little extra energy, effort, and kindness to produce drastically different results…

What a beautiful day to save a life!

Third Stop: Home Sweet Home.
Prior to the Vet visit, I had not been calling her by a specific name but, when asked I instantly said: “CATherine”. And so goes the naming of this little one… which continues to be a topic of ridicule in the Bishop house but, one for which I am unwilling to waver in changing lol

So, Now What? Well, although I was the one who found her… my entire family has been part of re-cooping little Catherine back to health…
Grandma bottle fed:

Grandpa calmed and cuddled:

Oak indulged in playtime while kitty discovered hunting skills:

And Me… I just loved her enough to acknowledge the importance of her life:

What a radical gift it has been to absorb this experience as a chance to practice kindness, and learn. The amazing thing about it is that… once I decided to love her, and fight for her, to save her… the rest of the world followed suit, and enabled me to do so… It was clear that all she really needed was someone on her side. Someone willing to act upon a notion that “You are seen, valued and worth my energy”. And Oh the abundance that comes in acknowledging the tiny, precious, ways we are given opportunity to show our goodness.

Since her rescue:
Catherine seems to have quite the appetite! To put it bluntly, she knows not when she is full… and has had no problem adapting to Solid Foods:

She is a champ at Sun Bathing and Sleeping:

And a few of her most Prized Hobbies are: Playing, Teasing dogs, and now… BITING (everything)!!

The Truth is… she has become quite a lively addition to the Bishop tribe, and it seems more and more that the universe continues to present ways for us to expand our family unit, offering more and more love, and enriching our lives by teaching us how to be more compassionate people…

She ain’t always sweet, that’s for sure, and certainly is growing up fast…

But, What a joy it is to watch this little one Discover her inner Feline:

Side note:

It is always surprising to me how little time some have to offer a helping hand, unless it is convenient to do so… but, truthfully… isn’t compassion about exercising the ability to remove self interest, to take on something greater than ourselves? No matter the cost of convenience?
Moral of the Story:


It seems quite fitting that the definition of a “Stray” is:

1. to deviate from the direct course, leave the proper place, or go beyond the proper limits, especially without a fixed course or purpose;
2. to wander; roam:

Which in turn presents a reality that many of us fail to recognize… it is inevitable that each of us will experience moments when we too will be astray… feeling abandoned, helpless, and left searching for the only thing that ever really mattered… our own personal understanding of self, love, and truth. And to what degree we are willing to heal, in order to save the value of all three…

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