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A Small Miracle Named Lady Angel by Karen A. Lynch

The first time I saw April, as I’d come to name her, it was early this past January. She was nothing but a blur darting from within the cat feeding station I call “The Hovel” and into the blackness of the night. For the next two months, I would catch a glimpse of her, both in the wee hours of the morning and late at night, edging her way warily to “The Hovel.” She would eat her fill and be on her way. Though I tried to befriend her, she remained an elusive, distrustful visitor, who only wanted a quick meal and no companionship.

April was one of several cats that partook of the food I set out and that was available around the clock.

Of all my feline visitors, Scooter, a brown tabby with white markings, is my favorite. I believe, for Scooter, the best part of a visit to my house, besides the gourmet meals I serve him, is the companionship he and I share. Scooter patiently waits for me to notice he has arrived before eating. I then join him in my outside sitting area, and while he eats, we converse in a language only we understand. It doesn’t hurt our relationship that I love him. He especially loves to be groomed with a soft brush.

Scooter has a mission in life. It is to make sure that all the neighborhood Mother cats and their litters are guided to my door, thus insuring their safety, and good homes for them and their kittens.

The PunkinIt was in March, that I began to notice April’s physique had changed. The once sleek body was beginning to show signs of a protrusion in her midsection. I redoubled my efforts to befriend the now pregnant cat, but she was not interested. April continued to take her meals and run. Though, now, her ever expanding belly and her familiarity with my non-threatening presence made her departures less a blur and more a saunter. So when she came and went on the morning of April 24th, I thought nothing of it.

Scooter and the other regulars had also paid their morning visit and departed, leaving me to go about my morning chores. Since a trip to the store was on my list of things to do, I picked up my purse and headed out the door and across my front yard to my pickup truck. Halfway across the front yard, I caught sight of Scooter coming up the driveway. He was not alone. About three feet behind him, tagging along, was April. It was the first time I had seen her in the daylight and saw that she was not black as I had thought, but black and orange – a tortie, and a pretty one, at that.

I came back to my outside seating area and took a seat. Scooter came right up and did his usual hello rub up against my legs. Then, he sat down in front of me and began to talk. Not in words, of course, but in various meows, which I took as serious cat speak, given that he had April in tow.

April had taken a seat a short distance from us and was observing Scooter’s and my interaction. When Scooter paused for a moment, I assumed that she took that as her cue to approach me, and just as Scooter had done, the previously unapproachable April began rubbing against my legs. I reached down to pet her, and this time, she offered no resistance.

Introductions concluded, April set out to make her purpose known.

My front door is glass from top to bottom. Seated inside the house and peering through the door were three of my biggest house cats, Tuff Tuff, Ch-eng and MOSI Max.

April, undaunted by the unfamiliar felines eyeing her up, proceeded to walk to the front door and rub up against it. The cats inside, ever the gentlemen, sat their ground and did not make any attempt to approach the preggie stranger at their door.

When I did not respond to her ovation, she returned to where I sat, rubbed against my legs and returned to the front door, indicating with a very stern meow, that she wanted in.

Now, I know what your thinking, this is a great tale, and I have a vivid imagination, but on my life, I swear all of what I am writing is true – and this is not the half of it.

AmberBy this time, Scooter, looking very pleased with himself at having completed another successful mission, had taken a seat off to the side, his demeanor indicating that the ball, or more correctly, the pregnant cat, was now in my court. I got up, walked past April and into the house. I returned to my seat with a cat carrier, which I placed on the ground next to me, its door ajar.

“Okay,” I said to April. “You want in. This is how it has to go down.”

“See all those cats in the door?” I went on. “Well, there are more like them inside. They don’t know you from Adam, so you can’t just up and walk in the front door. If you want in, the first step is to get in the box.”

I know, about now, you’re thinking I’m really snorting some serious stuff, if I think this cat, that I couldn’t lay hands on previously, is just going to up and march into that carrier.

Well, she did just that – without hesitation. She panicked for a moment when I shut the door. But, Scooter was quick to come over and sooth her fears with a gentle meow, and that was that. I thanked Scooter, picked up the carrier, and April moved in to my house.

The cats that reside in my house are all foundlings. On occasion, when they are ill and in need of a little TLC and privacy, I put them in a dog crate I have set up in a corner of my bedroom as my infirmary. It has a vinyl covered padded floor, a pyramid shaped, soft-sided cat bed with a plump pillow to rest in, food and water dishes and a litter box. It is roomy, comfortable and safe.

I set April in the carrier on the living room floor and covered the carrier with a beach towel. This would allow the inside cats to get a sniff of the new member of the family, but not get too close and scare April. Then, I went about disinfecting the infirmary and trying to figure out how best to turn it into a maternity ward. I decide I would let April decide if it met with her approval.

Angel's kittenI brought the carrier upstairs and opened the carrier door just inside the entrance to the crate. April walked right in and set about checking out her new digs. She stopped when she got to the pyramid cat bed and looked at me as if to say, “You don’t expect me and my family to fit in that measly thing?”

To make her point, she climbed on it and flattened it to the floor. It was quickly replaced by one of those high-sided, foam dog beds. It fit the width of the crate and offered all the amenities a pregnant cat could hope for in which to give birth.

The next afternoon, we were four kittens richer.

Momma April proudly displayed the four; one black, two torties, like herself, and one bright orange tabby. All had four white feet and white on their chests.

The new arrivals were a bright spot in what had been a very trying month. My elderly husband, Gray, has been very sick. A week after the kittens were born, he ended up in the hospital, where he remained for a month.

Everything was going great with the kittens. When they were too young to go anywhere, I let April have the run of the bedroom, so she could get some exercise and a little down time from kitty sitting. It was a great experience. The kittens were now almost five weeks old, and it appeared that they and their mother were thriving.

A week after Gray returned home from the hospital, his congestive heart failure, which had plagued him on and off for years, took a turn for the worse. We decided he needed to go to the emergency room. It was late in the afternoon, I fed April and all seemed well with her and the kittens. Then, I drove Gray to the emergency room. At 2:30, the next morning, they admitted Gray back into the hospital and I returned home.

Having been gone so long from home, the first thing I checked on was the kittens. Something did not appear right. April was laying half in and half out of the bed. I said something to her, but she didn’t move. Quickly, I opened the crate door and touched her. To my horror, she was dead.

Suddenly, what had been the bright spot in my life turned to an overwhelming sense of sadness. The kittens, huddled around their dead Mother, were whaling, their tiny voices adding to the misery of the situation.

How could this be, I implored the empty room, as there was no one but me to share the anguish I felt. She was perfectly all right when I’d left her, and had never displayed any illness whatsoever the entire time she had been with me.

I put aside my feelings and set about cleaning up the crate. I wrapped April’s body in a towel and placed her in a plastic tub that once held kitty litter and that would protect her from the other cat’s curiosity until I could get her to my veterinarian the next morning. Then, I sat down on the floor; the kittens snuggled in my lap, and cried.

The elusive April must have known she was dying, that’s why she asked to be let in the house. How brave was she to risk the unknown, to give her kittens a chance to survive. How trusting was she in me to know that I would care for them when she was gone. How generous was she to give me such a precious gift of her tiny family. How very sad it is that such a dear soul is gone.

The kittens, having grown close to me in the five weeks before their Mother’s death, are doing just fine. They have accepted me as their surrogate Mom, and are affectionate, sweet, wonderful, little babes, full of life and joy.

It has been my habit that when one of my feline family members passes on, I have them cremated. When my time to leave this earth comes, I have requested that their ashes be placed in my coffin, so that we will be together for eternity.

Because of April’s gallant, unselfish deed, I rechristened her Lady April. And, though she had only been with us for five short weeks, I had her cremated, so she, too, could be with me forever, a most honored member of our family.

The other day, I got a call from my vet to tell me Lady Angel’s ashes had been returned.

“Lady Angel?” I said. And was about to correct the misnomer, when suddenly I was struck by the irony of the mistake. Indeed, she was Lady Angel and this was the Lord’s way of telling me her real name, and that now she was safe in his loving care.

© Illustration by Cheyenne Booker




Comments

  1. Lyn Kibbey
    June 22nd, 2007

    Hi Karen, lovely cat story about Lady Angel and the kittens. That happened to us too, but with one of our outdoor barn cats. Just recently, we had two females, one pregnant and the other a young female that had never had kittens. The siamese had 4 kittens. The black female kept stealing her kittens and carrying them up into a huge oak tree in the front yard. She was also nursing the kittens which we thought was weird since she was young and didn’t have any kittens herself. We’d have to climb the tree and get them down. Then, one day, we climbed the tree to get out the 4 kittens, and there was a tiny little black new kitten. So, the black female was nurturing her momma instincts even before her kitten arrived. Then, both mama’s would nurse each others kittens. Several weeks later, I sold a house, and there was a tiny orange abandoned kitten under the porch of the house. It was wild. We caught it, and I brought it home and put it with the other kittens. Both mamas took it and nursed it too. Then, just yesterday, we found a wild little calico baby in our barn. Did the same thing…brought it up to the house, put it with the mamas, and they took it too. I guess these animals do find the homes that love animals and will take them in. Gray and you are in my prayers. I hope he is doing better. Thank you for keeping in touch. Love Lyn

  2. June 22nd, 2007

    Wow, Karen. I am just blown away by this story! You have a wonderful way of describing a scene…I felt like I was watching it unfold as it happened! My dearest friend is a cat lover like yourself, and has one of her cats still frozen at the vets for over 2 years now. I am going to forward this story to her if it is OK with you. I think she would love the to follow your example of blending their ashes with your own. That is such a wonderful idea. I have clippings from my horses’ manes and tails that I planned to combine with my own ashes. I hope that insures they will be with me forever in our next life.

    How is Grey doing now? You must have alot of inner strength to deal with all life is throwing at you now. Know that my prayers are with you both.

    Terry

  3. Connie Victor
    June 24th, 2007

    Hi Karen
    Sorry to hear about Gray hope he’s doing better now.
    Your story was great I know you have such a great way with animals. Sierra is in California she is doing well and she couldn’t have had a better home. I Miss her tho. Keep in touch call me when you can my cell is still the same.
    Connie

  4. July 22nd, 2007

    It would seem that Scottish seagulls in particular are becoming domesticated. Not so far from Aberdeen, unjustly renowned for the parsimony of its inhabitants, on the same coast, is the town of St.Andrews, justly renowned for its Golf Course, and for being the home of Heidi the Heroine, the subject of one of Floyd’s Fan Club stories! (If you have not read it just ask and you shall receive!)

    Heidi’s human has a Grandmother, who also lives in St. Andrews, is aged 97, and regularly goes to visit her daughter in Dundee. For some time now there has been a relationship developing between Gran and a Seagull.

    It started with a seagull helping himself to the porridge put out for Gran’s cat, called Ethel. Naturally Ethel objected to this, and made her feeling known to Gran. It was quite a puzzlement for Gran, since the seagull took not a blind bit of notice of Gran trying to shoo him away from Ethel’s dish. (It has always been assumed that such a character just had to be male!)

    Gran, being a somewhat bird wise human, decided that the best approach was to put out two dishes – one on the ground, close to the back door, and the other on top of the inverted lid of a dust-bin near the garden gateway. That way the needs of both creatures could be dealt with at the same time and there would be no need for either to complain.

    Then the seagull just stopped dropping by. Several weeks passed and, quite early on, Gran reverted to a single dish system, giving no further though to her presumably migrant visitor.

    One morning, after a particularly wind swept night, Gran was going about her housekeeping chores when she heard a tapping noise. Thinking she had a visitor she took off her apron, checked that her hair was just so, and opened the front door. There was no sign of anyone either standing
    waiting or, indeed, walking along the street. Somewhat puzzled, and a little cross at being disturbed in the performance of her duties, Gran returned to her work. Again there was a tapping noise. This time Gran listened more carefully, and decided that it seemed to be coming from the kitchen. Sure enough, there she found a seagull, impatiently tapping on the window – demanding to fed!

    Gran immediately prepared a dish of Porridge which she placed on the upturned dust-bin lid (garbage can in US-speak), and before she was back in the house the Seagull was happily consuming the traditional Scottish breakfast.

    After that, every day that both the Seagull, now rejoicing in the name “Mr. Knocky”, and Gran were ‘in residence’ the tap of a beak on the kitchen window resulted in the Pavlovian response of Porridge on the Dust-bin! I cannot, for the life of me, determine which was the conditioned and which was the conditioner – Gran or Mr.Knocky!

    Gran was, as I said, frequently away in Dundee, and Mr. Knocky would absent himself for a few days or weeks now and then, but, apart from the interruptions cause by the absence of either party, for several years now it has been an established routine. Knock leads to Porridge.

    To cap it all Mr. Knocky now brings a smaller and much younger looking companion with him, presumably either wife or offspring!

    Story by FLOYD THE DOG

    Join Floyd’s Fan Club – Membership is Free

    http://www.floydthedog.com
    floyd.v.dog@gmail.com

    Members receive Free Floyd Stories every month!

  5. July 22nd, 2007

    The above story is courtesy of Floyd the Dog, who resides in Portugal and is the teller of great tales. I and one of April’s kittens, Finn McCool, the orange tabby, have been communicating with Floyd and invited him to share one of his enchanting stories with us. I hope you enjoyed The Lady and the Seagull. Floyd forgot to title his piece, so I took a liberty and did it for him. I hope he doesn’t mind. We are planning to exchange more stories in the future, so visit this space often to see what wonders we have to offer. Thanks, Floyd, we love ya pup.
    Karen and Finn Mc Cool

  6. August 9th, 2007

    Karen,

    As I sat here reading about Lady Angel, I had tears in my eyes. I have 3 cats, and they are the last of the brood I had.

    I can see Angel in my mind as I read the story. Such a wonderful Momma cat, and they call animals dumb.

    Did you find out what killed her?

    Some of the animals on the rainbow bridge, I hope, are waiting for me. Heaven will be very lonely without animals.

    Thanks for a lovely story.

  7. August 9th, 2007

    I know that many of you that read this story wonder what it was that killed Lady Angel. Since, she was a stray, and only came to me the day before she had her kittens, we can only guess. But, my cat vet says, since Lady Angel showed no signs of being ill before her untimely death, she suspects Angel had heart worms. That’s what is so sad about stray animals. Often, they meet a tragic end. As for the kittens, they are doing great!

  8. July 28th, 2010

    In a Garden
    by Denny Lancaster
    240118

    The sign of compassion you gave
    will not lie upon the yonder grave,
    for on your pages our eyes set
    to leave a bouquet of violets;
    Others upon you too may shower
    and she will bring you a flower.

    Alas! what blossom shall she bring,
    and in hearts of others may spring?
    The gardens on earth once ran wild
    and she trimmed them as a child;
    Those plaid ones and tall thin stalks
    and the wild vine among the walks.

    About her garden’s queens and kings
    have grown the most elegant things,
    yet one there is of an ancient race,
    springing in the old familiar place;
    This is the one for you she will seek
    the one with scarlet hue and violet beak,
    one which bears your compassions name
    and children of earth your fame will claim.

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