Ember of Her Heart
Carrie Fagerstrom shares her experience of life with The Great Rescue Kitty Ember…
I was a Great Kitty Rescue junkie. It was a train wreck I couldn’t look away from…horrifying! But it was also inspirational to see that a disaster of that magnitude could be dealt with by enough caring people coming together to work directly on the scene and others backing them up with money and encouragement. From the beginning, I would read every news article, blog and forum. I wondered how so many cats would find the homes they so deserved.
It wasn’t long before I came to the conclusion that it might take those of us with multi-cat families to each adopt “just one more” to make a dent in the numbers. I struggled a bit with it because I already had seven cats. Gradually though, I became comfortable with the idea that I could do it. As long as I held to “eight is enough.” I wouldn’t be on the way to hoarder-ship myself, I figured.
Once I decided to adopt a cat, the question was how to choose? At first, I thought I’d take an FIV+ kitty. I already have an FIV+ guy integrated into my household and another mellow guy or gal with the virus would probably fit in just fine. After a little thought, though, I decided that I would adopt an extremely shy/feral cat. My reasoning was that these might actually be the hardest cats to find homes for. Certainly, they couldn’t be expected to tolerate mobile adoptions and, if they were sent to rescues/sanctuaries, they’d likely disappear so successfully that they’s never catch the eye of a potential adopter.
A friend working on the front lines in Pahrump had been sleeping in the building with the shyest of the shy cats. She sent photos, write-ups and even videos of some of the kitties she thought would work in my household. Unable to decide, I asked Danielle Aymar in adoptions, to just have people at the scene choose me a kitty who they thought would do well in a quiet multi-cat home. Sherry and McKenzie jumped at the chance to get one of their favorites out of the desert and off to nice, cool Portland, Oregon. I was given a date and time to meet my new kitty, Ember, at the airport.
While I awaited her arrival, I frequently checked the one not-very-flattering photo that was posted on PetFinder. Her fur was raggedly short, like perhaps mats had been shaved off or she’d had a skin condition, but she was an interesting color. She had her back to the camera, glaring at the photographer over her shoulder, but she had a beautiful black mask. I was truly not prepared for how stunning she was in person. By the time she arrived in early December, 2007, her fur was grown out into a gorgeous (and rare!) black smoke tabby pattern. She was beautiful but she was terrified. It hurt my heart that there was nothing I could do to ease her fears. My mellow boy kitties tried to reassure her that things were going to be okay, but she was still so frightened! I kept a blog and got tons of support from others on the Network.
Just a couple of weekends ago, Ember and I had a giant breakthrough. While she has long looked as though she’d like to join the other cats and me on the bed, she has only gotten as far as the top of the kitty steps in my presence. She stares at the other cats as they climb all over me and roll around, purring. The cats look like being touched by a human feels SO good but she seems to wonder how they dare. Well, that Saturday I woke up from a nap to find Emma, Casper and Billy Boy lining the left side of my body. As I turned to the right, I saw a long-haired tabby sidled up to my right side…Chloe, I assumed. I turned a little further and instead found myself staring into that beautiful black-masked face! She only held my gaze for about three seconds before bolting but she was back in position the next day for naptime. This time she was so sound asleep when I awoke that I got in three pets (the first EVER) before she realized where that nice feeling was coming from. I so hope that we’re on our way to her enjoying more of that feeling! Perhaps one day soon there will be a photo of the two of us together that we can share!