One year ago today, on a windy, rainy day, a motley bundle of feline fur appeared at my back patio door. Rain pelted the backyard as this itty bitty kitty parked himself on the stoop and decided that he was home.
I mightn’t have noticed this newcomer, but my cat, Bear, made strange noises that drew me to the door. The little guy shivered as he sat patiently on the stoop, looking straight ahead. It wasn’t long before I gave him some warm milk and placed a shoebox lined with soft cloth on the doorstep. While this encouraged him to stay, he seemed determined to do that anyway.
Why was he here? My mind raced with possibilities. My backyard has a high concrete block fence . . . there aren’t many stray cats around the neighborhood . . . and this bit of fluff appeared too weak to climb anything. Had someone lost him?
How I wanted to bring him inside, feed him, and keep him warm. But knowing that he could be carrying a disease, I waited until morning to take him to the vet. Before I placed him in a shopping bag and headed for the animal hospital, I knew I had to giver him or her a name.
I strolled into the bedroom, sat in my reading chair, and reached for my Bible. This little gift from God was going to have a scriptural name. I went right to Psalm 36, and began devouring a favorite passage:
Lord, your constant love reaches the heavens. . . . Men and animals are in your care. How precious, O God, is your constant love! We find protection under the shadow of your wings.
That was it! Shadow. He weighed in at 1 pound 3 oz. He was too malnourished to be de-wormed, but they ran tests and gave him shots. In the following weeks, it was determined that when he came to my house he was probably eight to ten weeks old.
At this time, Bear and I were adjusting to the absence of my husband, Jack, who died in October. We were doing well, but sometimes things were a bit bleak and boring.
What a difference Shadow made in our lives. He’s skittish in some ways, and still works on taking ownership of the entire house. He’s 95% there. Three things are “givens” in his life: cameras, computers, and me. Shadow adores me, and spends a lot of time snuggled down in my lap. As he matures, he’s becoming more independent. And that’s good.
Hilarious is another good adjective. He makes me laugh. He and Bear chase each other around the house every day, and love every minute of it. Shadow adores Bear, but he’s jealous when I pay attention to Bear. I give them a brushing each morning, and Bear, being the senior cat, goes first. Shadow always waits by either closing his eyes or turning his back on us. He cannot bear to watch me pampering Bear. Too cute.
I’ve had to establish new daily routines, and think in totally different ways in order to accommodate him. What a difference he’s made in my life. In one year, being part of this new atmosphere has helped me rebuild my health, business, and sense of humor. Shadow brought laughter where there had been—for few years—mostly solemnity.
Let me share a few photos of Shadow (immediately below), beginning with the one I took on January 4, when he’d been here about six days. He now weighs over 13 pounds and is still growing. To see more of his photos, go to http://www.digifeld.com/shadow.html.
Judy and Shadow: October 2005.
Shadow on January 4, 2005: five days after he appeared on Judy’s doorstep.
Shadow three months later: in Judy’s office.
Shadow helps Judy edit and print out hard copy. May 2005.
Shadow considers pouncing on Bear. March 2005.
Shadow pounces. Sort of. March 2005.
Shadow apologizes for being so obnoxious. April 2005.
Shadow is forgiven and he and Bear enjoy the scenery from Judy’s office. April 2005.
Shadow and Bear snuggle while waiting for their morning grooming. October 2005.
Anniversary day! Shadow and Bear with Christmas toy. December 29, 2005.