The sun blazed down in a fire of glory the day that I was born. Birds sang out, pledging the sacrifice of their young to sustain my brilliance. The divine ruler laid the crown of catnip on my brow ordaining my right to rule over my lessers.
We were seven. Born in the putrid stench of trash mingling with exhaust. There was no Mommy. Only brothers and sisters squirming around, mewing in hunger. Sirens echo through our memories. We don’t speak of the darkness. We don’t speak of the fear.
I’ve been watching. I know what she does not. I saw each of our siblings succumbed to the void. We were seven. Only three made it out of the city. Only two made it into foster. I kept my sister safe. I protected her fiercely. She tells me to lighten up. She tells me to relax. She hasn’t seen what I have seen. She doesn’t know the truth.
I see. I know the truth. Pets will be permitted, but even the humans that nursed us back to health cannot be trusted.
We were seven. Now we are two. What happens when we’re one?
Every moment is fleeting. Seconds tick away like fleas crawling through my fur. The other cats don’t understand. They don’t realize just how lucky they are.
My kitten hood flashed by quickly. I didn’t have the endless supply of toys and cat towers that I have now. Or warmth.
Perhaps that’s why I’m so grateful. That’s why I never miss an opportunity to show my humans just how much they mean to me. I groom my daddy’s beard. I butt my Mommy’s face with mine. They’re my family. For now.
I had another family. I was once loved by others enjoying what I understood as normal. Heading outside, enjoying the sun on my fur, I had endless freedom. I fell in love. And suddenly it all ended. It always ends.
As my belly swelled, my first family got annoyed. They couldn’t “keep the cat”. There was no room for me as I got bigger and bigger. They booted me out. Like a mouse intruding in their home.
My babies were born at the shelter. Four perfect, beautiful babies. They were my entire world. Their news warmed my heart. They were my new family. They wouldn’t ever go. Humans gave us food and toys. They kept our blankets clean and our small home warm. Once again, I was happy, filled with love and joy.
Two wonderful months passed in blissful ignorance. Then, once again, everything changed. Just as my babies were weaned and their stumbling gaits began to steady, they were taken away from me.
My comfortable home became cold and empty. They spayed me, promising no more kittens, no more heart wrenching pain when they leave. I felt like there was a hole in my chest.
Change came again. In the form of a serious girl and a cautious boy. They were “just looking”. They had suffered a loss as well recently. The weight of the sorrow bowed them down. We were kindred spirits. I understood their pain.
In an impulsive moment, I stretched my paw through the bars of the home that had so recently become a prison. I rolled on my stomach inviting them in.
The girl laughed, even as she tried not to. With ease she lifted the latch and scooped me into her arms. But she wasn’t enough. I reached out and pulled her mate into the embrace. In an unlikely moment, we had found a family.
Then they left. My heart sank again. Naturally nothing lasted. I sank down waiting for the next disappointment.
The woman who changed my litter came in, she lifted me up, waltzing out of the room. She held me up into the air and loudly asked the fairly empty lobby of the shelter, “who claims this cat?”
The girl and boy from before were both grinning. The girl was covered in water from the rain outside and was holding an equally soaked carrier. She raised her hand, the weight lifting from her shoulders as she said, the words echoing in the silence, “We do”.
I was brought to their little home, and welcomed into their little family. There were toys everywhere. I leapt from this one to that, my joy infectious. They decided to name me Marmalade, Marmie for short. I took to the name immediately. The only one who was displeased with my presence was their other baby, my new, younger sister, Bear.
Although it shames me to the core to admit it, I was not always the wise and beloved ruler I am today.
Over the course of the next few days, I’m going to tell the tale of myself and my people. They will each have a chance to speak of their past and the rare and significant opportunity to share it on my blog.
And of course. We begin with me.
Alone. I began alone. The others speak of siblings and of kittens, but I do not recall any scents besides that of my true mother and even those are nothing but a feint memory.
We were separated. I was too young to understand why. I was left alone. All alone. I cried. Humans found me. They bundled me up into a dark, warm cardboard box. I love cardboard. I always have.
Then there were bright lights and lots of human voices when I arrived at the shelter. I was terrified. They gave me a box. I hid. Those few days were the worst of my life. I was warm. I had food and toys and a fresh clean litter box, but everything kept changing. Everything was loud.
I was barely two months old when she came skipping into my life. I saw her right away. She was not alone. There was another male with her, but I only he eyes for her. She was distracted by two kittens right up front, but only momentarily. She said my name. She knew I was there. It was fate.
The kind volenteer who was holding me and trying to teach me how to meow smiled at the woman and asked if she wanted to meet me. She nodded.
We went to a pen. I was free to run and play with all the toys. A blue circle with a ball in the middle was my favorite. I played and played. Then she picked me up and snuggled me close. I was happy. I was secure. I wasn’t feeling well. I puked all over her shirt.
The volenteer was mortified, but I laughed my little kitty laugh as I was brought quickly back to my cage. But the young woman only smiled broadly as the volenteer explained that I was just a baby and that happened sometimes. My upset stomach didn’t bother her.
They left. My heart sank. She didn’t want me. No one did. But then suddenly they were back, I was placed in another cardboard box, this time with my bed and the stuffed bunny that had kept me company over the last few days.
I was carried to a car. I was not afraid as the box rumbled and moved. The male opened it up and gazed down at me in wonder.
When we came to a stop, they paused, looking around nervously. The coast was clear. They smuggled me into the little studio apartment where I grew from kit to Queen, adored, snuggled up to the face of my mommy.
Thank you Mohawk Hudson Humane Society for saving me from sure death out there alone and uniting me with my forever family.