June is National Adopt a Cat Month, and writer Christine Sass shares the story of Nell, an adopted kitten who brought companionship to one local couple in their waning years.
I vividly remember the day my mother called giddy with excitement. Dad had finally given the green light for her to adopt a kitten.
My father grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. In his world, a cat’s sole purpose was to take care of any mice that might be making their home in the barn. Bringing a cat indoors and keeping it there was a ridiculous concept to this farm boy.
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In their later years, Mom would occasionally broach the cat issue reasoning that a pet would be good company for both of them. Dad’s response would always be “We’ll see”. With both of them in their 80’s now and the scope of their world shrinking, Dad finally agreed that a cat might be an okay idea. So, when Mom got the go-ahead, I picked her up and we headed to the Blue Water Humane Society.
Staff ushered us into a small room jumping with about six little kittens. Mom picked each one up to cuddle but the little guys were more interested in chasing each other around the room. Except for one little furball in particular. She kept coming back to Mom climbing up her arm and sitting on her shoulder, tail flicking in her face. This was the one!
When we arrived back home, I lugged the carrier into the kitchen. Mom unlatched the little door. Kitty tentatively stepped onto the linoleum. Mom scooped her up and brought her into the living room where Dad sat in his recliner watching the news. “Isn’t she beautiful?” Dad turned to peer over his glasses and grunted.
Nell cast her spell on my unsuspecting Dad. He chose her name. When Dad came downstairs in the morning, he said hello to Nell before Mom. If Nell was sprawled on Dad’s La-Z-Boy, he would choose a different one so as not to disturb her. She sat beside Dad on the arm of his chair as he ate his lunch.
For the next five years, Nell was the queen of their domain. She would hide when company came over but occasionally deigned the visitor with her presence, perhaps with a hiss if they got too close. Mom would say “Oh, she’s just playing.”
Dad was first to go to the nursing home, followed a couple of months later by Mom. They worried about Nell and we promised we would take care of her. My bachelor brother, who never thought he would have a cat, has had her ever since. When he comes home from his travels, she is there to greet him, snuggling on his lap when he sits down to watch tv, purring like crazy.
No amount of money could have given our parents the joy that this one little fur baby did every day in their waning years. In return, Nell lapped up all the love and affection a kitty could possibly desire.