Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Contest Helps Family Remember Cat

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Contest Helps Family Remember Cat

Article excerpt

Byline: Elizabeth Seney, Shorelines columnist

Last week, my 9-year-old daughter, Jean, won the storytelling contest for Mrs. Walter's third-grade class.

This was very exciting and cause for celebration at our house. Although she lost the schoolwide competition to a fifth-grader the very next day, it was still a moving experience, especially since the story she told was that of our now deceased feline -- Bud the Cat.

Seeing that the story was impelling enough to garner a major award from Mrs. Walter, I thought it was worth a retelling here.

It was 17 years ago -- the very first Christmas Rick and I shared as husband and wife. Rick was working long hours as a business consultant for a major accounting firm in Washington I was a college student who had recently transferred universities. I had few friends in the area and spent a lot of time alone, either studying or waiting for Rick to get home from work. It was a lonely time.

"I know what I want for Christmas," I announced to Rick in late November of that same year. "I want two kittens to keep me company while I study."

Rick readily agreed. After all, he had grown up with two Siamese cats from the same litter -- Sam and Charlie -- and agreed that it would be best to get a pair. Although he didn't say it at the time, I also realized it got him off the hook of having to come up with a special or lavish gift for our first Christmas as a married couple.

So on a Saturday afternoon in late December, while I was at my part-time job, Rick went searching for my Christmas kittens. He first went to a shelter close to our home. Not a single kitten was to be found. But on his way out a black cat in a cage caught his eye. There was a card on the cage that indicated he had three days left before he would be euthanized. The card explained that the cat had already been adopted and returned twice because he had a flea allergy and needed to be kept indoors. Rick looked at the mangy thing; 3 years old and skinny with big hunks of fur missing where he had pulled it out in search of the inevitable fleas found in the shelter. The cat, which was lying in his side as if he had already surrendered to his fate, lifted his paw and reached through the bars toward Rick. …

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