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Rocky and Annabelle’s “Gotcha Day” Tale

By Julia Williams
I follow a lot of other pet bloggers, and have read so many touching stories of a beloved pet’s adoption day. I didn’t think to tell my own Gotcha Day tales, primarily because I don’t know the actual date. The three cats I have now were all what I call “accidentally adopted,” i.e. I didn’t set out to find a cat to adopt but rather, they found me. And even then, I had no intention of keeping them. Ha ha! The wily felines had other plans, and worked their magic so completely that turning them away just wasn’t an option. I now realize I don’t need an actual date to celebrate the time these beautiful souls found their way into my home and heart. This is Rocky and Annabelle’s Gotcha Day tale.

It was August of 2003. I was renting an office for my freelance writing business, and the woman in the adjoining suite asked me to water her garden during her vacation. I went to her house and as she showed me her garden, she casually mentioned she had a momma cat and two kittens living in a shed. When I asked who would be taking care of them, she said they were leaving some dry food and water for the mom, and the kittens were still nursing. I still can’t fathom the mindset of asking someone to care for plants but leaving four-week-old kittens and their mom to fend for themselves!

She also said they initially had four kittens but two recently died, and she didn’t know why. I asked her to show me where the cats were, because I intended to look after them whether she thought they needed it or not. I noticed the kittens had fleas, but didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until I came back the next day. These poor kittens were being eaten alive by fleas! I suspected the other kittens had died from flea anemia, and these two looked so weak I worried they’d suffer the same fate. I took them straight to my vet, who agreed with my assessment and said they probably would’ve died in a day or two.

Back at the property, I applied a topical flea product to the mom and gave her some of my own FELIDAE canned food and vitamins. I felt she’d be okay but the kittens were far too frail to be left alone, so they came home with me. I intended to nurse them back to health and find them good homes. (Technically I suppose I stole them, but as it turned out, the woman didn’t really care.) It was touch-and-go for a week; at times I didn’t know if these two precious little babies would make it, but they did. With luck, love, TLC and lots of prayer, they survived and soon began to thrive.

I already had two cats, and when I brought the rescue babies home I told Mickey and Tiger “Don’t be mad, they are not staying.” And I truly meant it. I didn’t want the responsibility of caring for two more cats. I already loved these kittens deeply, but once they were well and old enough, I began trying to find them a forever home. Time after time, prospective adopters bailed. It seemed so strange that every time I’d get close to finding the kittens a home, it fell through. I realized later that these two had already claimed me subconsciously – and vice versa – and they already knew they were “home.” I firmly believe every pet comes into our lives for a reason, at the exact right time. It may not always seem like it, but when you look back you can usually see how everything played out perfectly.

I named the solid black one Rocky because although he was initially very weak from the flea anemia, I knew he had the spirit of a fighter and would survive. Little Orphan Annie inspired me to name the black-and-white kitten Annabelle even though technically she wasn’t an orphan. I adored them both from that first fateful day until now, eight years later. My love for them has only grown and grown, reaching heights I never knew possible.

It took me a long time to forgive the woman whose ignorance had caused the death of Rocky and Annabelle’s siblings and nearly their own. Eventually I did forgive, because one day I read that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die, and I realized it was true. Besides, how could I be angry with someone who had given me the most wonderful gift I’ve ever known? The love and happiness these two special earth angels bring me is a large part of the reason I get up every day… and I simply couldn’t imagine a life without them. I did not plan to adopt these rescue babies, but I know without a doubt that Rocky and Annabelle are right where they were always meant to be – with me!

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