This beautiful creature spent the last weeks of his life in the local animal shelter I volunteer at and, during his stay, touched my heart. He had a shining personality and proved to be quite photogenic. In this picture, however, he is not merely himself, he is Everycat and he has many faces and many stories.
He is every owner-surrendered cat who cries the entire first night in confusion and loneliness. They don’t understand how they could be here, in this place, when so recently they had a home. He is the unwanted kittens, huddled in a plastic bowl lined with scraps of old towels, who look around and mew for their missing mother. He is the feral cat, born wild, with no love for humans, cowering in a corner, grateful for food, but terrified by all around him. He is the mother cat who bit a human for coming to close to her kittens and who must now wait for ten long days in rabies quarantine. He is the sick animal who is overlooked by all potential owners and who will eventually be euthanized. He is every tear that fills my eye as I stroke the soft fur of a cat who is slowly falling to the gentle death of the needle. He speaks through me every time I whisper an apology to a healthy cat who will not live to see another day.
But he also has a face of hope and of joy. He is the frightened kitten found under a car who will be scooped into the adoring arms of a little girl. He is the lost cat who climbs the cage in joy upon seeing its owner. He is the skinny little cat who, after a week of regular food at the shelter, has grown sleek and healthy. He is the singed mother cat brought in by firefighters who are amazed that she went back through the flames five times to save her kittens. He is the cluster of fuzzy little kittens taken to a foster home to be bottle-fed and given a second chance. He is every tear that fills the eye of a person who has finally found the perfect pet, and I hear his voice in every contented purr.
He is why some days it breaks my heart to volunteer there, but also why I know I must. He is hope and fear, love and sadness. Like all those that have purred in my arms before, he waits for me, somewhere, I have no doubt. When my time comes, I will turn away from the gates of Heaven if they all are not inside.