She came from a house where life wasn’t all that great. Sure, there was food – sometimes. There was water – when she could find it.
She had a flea infection real bad a year or two ago and it was just so itchy, she almost couldn’t stand it. As a result, her left ear is basically gone. She couldn’t help it. She had to itch and even though it hurt, she couldn’t stop digging at her ear.
There were a lot of other cats in the house, too, and the people left everything they ate or didn’t want anymore all over the floor.
A few days ago, the animal shelter came in and took her and all her feline siblings out of the house.
So now she’s in a kennel with a really soft blanket and a litterbox and food and water. Everything’s clean and smells nice. Considering where she had been living for the last five years, this isn’t too bad.
In the beginning, she was still scared. She didn’t really come out of the back of the cage much. She was grateful for the better existence, but still wasn’t sure where she had ended up.
Since then, she has started to look around and what she sees tells her quite a story.
There are a lot of cats in the shelter – all over the place, actually. Cats that have been abandoned by their humans or found on the street.
Cats that came in with mothers. Cats that were in foster care. Cats that spent time in the offices with the people so they could acclimate to the shelter life.
But the one thing she knows when she finally looks around and sees all the other cats is…she can’t compete. She is nothing like them.
She came from a bad place. She’s not cute. She’s not cuddly. Her hair is still growing back in from where she lost it to the flea infection. She doesn’t have pretty colors. She doesn’t have unique eyes.
She doesn’t even have both her ears.
She listens to the other cats talk about getting adopted or “going home” and she can’t help but think there’s no chance that will ever happen for her. The cute kittens fall all over each other and the humans that come in coo at them and say how cute they are, but they never say that about her.
They barely even look at her.
And the truth of it is, she can’t blame them. She knows what she is and what she isn’t. She’ll never be the cat people take pictures of or share on whatever the thing called social media is.
What chance does she possibly have to find someone who would ever love her?
So most days, she curls up on her warm, soft blanket and is grateful to be taken care of by the staff at the shelter. They’re all really nice and they care a lot about her and tell her how lucky she is to be with them.
She believes it because her belly is full and the fleas are gone and she’ll never have to want for anything again.
She likes when the staff take time to talk to her and hold her and pet her when they clean her cage. She even purrs a little for them because it’s so nice. It’s those moments when she allows herself to dream that maybe, someday, she could find someone.
She tries not to fool herself, though.
She has herself so convinced the shelter will be her home for the rest of her life, the day someone new stops by her cage to talk to her, she’s so freaked out, she curls into the back of her cage again. It has to be some kind of a joke.
But the two people – a man and a woman – talk to her so softly and seem to ignore all the cute kittens and their adorable antics. They take her into the bonding room and it takes her forever to come out from under the bench because she doesn’t want to believe this could be something.
The people wait for her. They don’t push and they don’t get irritated and they let her be who she is – scars and all.
She takes a chance and walks up to their legs and they gently – so gently – rub their hands through her fur and don’t seem to be grossed out by the patches where it’s missing.
The woman says out loud, “We know what you’ve been through, sweetheart, and we want to love you.”
The man whispers, “We’ll take care of you.”
The next day, she is the one who is actually going home, getting adopted, and part of her really can’t believe it.
But the other part is just so incredibly grateful for everything the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter did to help her find someone to love her.
Jennifer Vanderau is the Publication and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected]. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 717-263-5791 or visit the website www.cvas-pets.org.