It was 1992 and we had just moved to Oregon from Alaska. I had been fortunate enough to find a vet that made house calls. He had been to the house a few times giving his final stamp of approval on our main enclosure we were in the process of building. He said that he had a feeling, I was going to do great things for the stray and feral cats in Linn County.
I had stopped by his office that morning to pick up some medicine. There was a woman in the office with a boxful of kittens her and her husband had found in an abandoned campground in Washington State. Ben came out of the room and told the woman that he was sorry but they didn’t accept stray kittens and she would have to contact the local shelters. Then, he spied me in line and said “I know who might take them!” He was right, they were in really bad shape- super skinny, malnourished, so weak their spitting and hissing wasn’t all that impressive. All five of them went home with me right away. We had deflead and de-wormed them and they just needed groceries.
I got them home and put them in a cage and set out cat food (both wet and dry) baby food, and left them for a bit to allow them to decompress. When I went to check on them again- none of the food had been touched although it was clear, they were starving. For three days- all the wet food, dry food, baby food we gave them went untouched and I became quite concerned. The vet had given them a thumb’s up healthwise, so why weren’t they eating?
I prayed about it and the light went off. They came from a campground so why not try them with campground food. The offerings were scarfed up right away- hot dogs chopped fine, hamburger meat, lunch meat- over the next few weeks, we transitioned them off the camp food onto cat food and normal food for kitties. They started filling out and growing, and one- didn’t stop growing, she just kept steadily gaining weight and height- turned out she was the mom! That’s how badly they were malnourished. We named her Dash, because she had this white mark under her nose that looked like a comma. Her four kittens were christened Hissy, India, Tipster and Chappy
India, Hissy, and Tipster were adopted out. Dash after she was spayed made it quite clear that inside life was not to her liking and after being ripped up a few times when she was in her feral mode, I accommodated her and put her outside soon her son Chappy joined her. They were always together.
When Chappy died this year, I put him out in the grass so Dash could say goodbye to him. She laid by him most of the day until finally, I had to put him in the ground. She would never be the same and retreated deep into the underside of the house. When I took her for her final visit, the vet looked at her x-rays and said “Mary Anne, she is a hot mess!” That’s the same thing he said when I brought Chappy to him to be euthanized. It just made me so sad.
I used to see her inside the heated cat carriers, coming to the food trays in the mornings and sometimes out in the yard, but the minute she saw me coming- she would dash off under the house. In the last month, she wasn’t around at all during the day and only visible at night if I laid down on my stomach and shone my flashlight under the house looking for her. Once the light hit her- she would retreat.
She beat the odds in the beginning of her life and in the end, the odds caught up to her. Now she is at peace sharing her space in Heaven with Chappy and the rest of her family. Goodbye Sweet Girl- I am blessed that you were in my life for such a long time.