I spent three hours writing this tonight and would appreciate you taking five minutes to read it.
It's boring in parts but I promise the payoff is there if you love animals.
I'd appreciate you sharing so that we can continue to spread the word
about the amazing animals without voices that are feral/stray/sheltered
and are just waiting for a chance.
Please enjoy "The Cat That Nobody Wanted."
The cat that nobody wanted wasn’t even the cat that I wanted.
In fact, she was choice number three, and a distant three at that.
As I’d later find out, Florida had more feral cats per capita than
any other state, so it made sense that I’d see her entire family scurry
throughout the intercoastal apartment complex I lived in most nights
during that summer of 2008 when returning home from work at midnight. Of
course, the fact that I fed them helped, too.
But let’s introduce you to the cast, which initially began with two.
First there was the white tomcat Sting, whose meow announced his
presence with authority. Sting was mischievous, always on top of a car
hood or sitting above the apartment complex gate. I always worried Sting
would get picked up by animal control, as he was the boldest and
bravest of the feral crew. But luckily, while I was there, he never did.
One funny story sticks out about Sting, and it’s one that I’ll take with me the rest of my life.
It must have been a heat index of 105 one late Jacksonville
afternoon, and I was coming home from a workout at World Gym on Beach
As I pulled into the complex, I saw Sting laying on the ground in a helpless manner near the community mailboxes.
“Oh my gosh,” I thought. “Sting is dying. He needs water. Or a vet.
But I have to work in an hour. I don’t have time. What do I do?”
As it turned out, I opted for the worst possible solution – to run
and get my kitten KC’s carrying case, so I could put Sting in it and
then decide where to take him AFTER that fact.
Problem was, as I arrived back with the case, he scurried into some
bushes and when I reached for him, bit my hand, just as he should have,
this strange giant potentially impeding on his life.
Long story short, Sting ended up being just fine, but I ended up
getting a tetanus shot at my doctor (after being laughed at
hysterically) and was told if I didn’t see Sting alive in three days, I
had to have rabies treatments, which would cost a ton of money and cause
sheer amounts of pain.
Luckily, that white SOB that I loved so much would show up from time
to time, so I knew I was safe, but the visits to my apartment became
less and less, right as cat number two started visiting more.
To this day, I have no idea why I never gave cat number two a true
name. I never even thought to, even though I had decided to try and keep
Cat number two was older than a kitten, but not quite an adult, with
short grey hair. She was extremely sweet and affectionate. Looking back,
I should have known that cat number two was being courted by a really
pretty girl downstairs who used to have a lot of parties. I’ll never
know for sure, but I think she might have been a stripper. Just
intuition on my part – nothing wrong with being a woman of the night!
Anyway, cat number two became familiar with feeding time and would
join Sting when I’d get home from work. After I’d feed her, I’d want to
give her attention because she was so damn precious. Being a good cat
owner to KC (who was near one year old at this point), I couldn’t take
her in my apartment, so I would take her to my Ford Escape and pat her
for a good 20 or 30 minutes a night, before going back inside and
watching the DVR’ed Royals game.
I should probably say that at this point, I was just becoming a cat
fanatic. I had one cat before KC, an outdoor cat we fed during childhood
named “Mama Kiki.” I loved that cat more than anything and had her the
last two years of her life during my final days in Charlotte and first
days in Jacksonville. I had to put her down one night after I returned
home from work and she’d had a stroke. I got KC a few months later as a
kitten and swore I’d never adopt another cat. One was enough and two
would make me a “cat lady” and “undateable” in my mind. But my heart, of
course, knew differently, as when I was feeding these cats, I’d lie
with my head and say, “I’ll just feed them and then trap them and get
them homes.” But deep down, I knew I’d be adding to my family and
adopting one, just like Mama Kiki all of those years earlier.
Anyway, after awhile, cat number two began showing up less and less,
and one day I saw her going outside from the stripper’s porch
downstairs. “Duh,” I thought. “She’s so tame because she’s being fed and
is someone’s pet.”
To confirm, I then asked the girl (we’ll call her “Lola” since I
don’t know her name) if she was feeding the cat and taking care of it or
if I should. She said, “No, I’m adopting that cat, that’s on me, don’t
worry about it!” (I then asked for a lap dance. Kidding. That part
didn’t happen. Just wanted to make sure you were still reading.)
Mildly heartbroken, I realized that sweet cat number two would not be
adopted by me, but luckily right around that same time, one other cat
began showing up for dinnertime – a cat I’d seen before, but one that
was very, very wild and hung out with the feral cats that didn’t dare
get close to me. This cat was the obvious (much wilder) sister to sweet
cat number two! She was the exact same grey and size/age, but was a long
haired cat (versus short) and very scraggly. She had the bushiest and
Even as I began feeding cat number three a half can of wet food a
night, she three was very, very timid and very, very scared of me,
UNLESS I was sitting completely down on the concrete. If so, she would
allow me to get within a few feet while I fed her and by night three, I
scratched her head the first time.
The funny thing is, I had flashbacks to Sting when cat number three
let me pat her – because she kind of jumped up at my hand but instead of
biting me, to my extreme amusement, got on her back feet/hind legs and
walked like a human being up to my hand.
I didn’t even hesitate.
“Your name is Tippy. You walk on your tippy toes. You’re Tippy.”
From that night on, Tippy began to trust me a lot more and by night
five, she began sleeping outside of my door as she waited for me to come
home from work each night. I can still remember how happy my heart was
as I walked toward her the first night and saw that – that’s when she
officially “adopted me” and vice versa. It made me so happy!
At the same time, I was a bit nervous, because I always wondered if
the apartment neighbors were getting pissed that all these cats were
hanging around. I couldn’t have totally blamed them if they were, but
that made me scared, so I quickly found a local organization called “Cat
Angels” that would spay, give cats their shots, check for diseases,
etc. for a discounted price if you swore to foster the cat and never let
it back outside. I decided I needed to quickly do this just in case
someone called Animal Control with as predictable as Tippy’s behavior
was coming. She was always waiting for me and had that same loud meow
that Sting (her brother or Dad) had.
Anyway, as fate would have it, while I was waiting two more days to
meet the lady from “Cat Angels” to drop Tippy off, I was driving a
rental car for some reason (some repair on my Escape). When I dropped it
off at the Enterprise office on Atlantic Blvd., this really pretty girl
informed me that she was my neighbor and lived downstairs. Not the
stripper, a different girl that I wasn’t aware of. I couldn’t believe it
– what a small world!!
Nervously, I decided to ask, just to see what she’d say: “Are you one of the girls that feeds those cats?”
Her male co-worker began cracking up while she blushed and confirmed
that yes, she was a “cat lady.” I couldn’t believe it – here’s a
neighbor of mine in a city of 1.2 million people who also feeds the
cats!!! She knew about Sting and cat number two and loved them both, but
when I asked her about cat number three, my Tippy, she said:
“That long haired cat with the bushy tail? It’s so annoying!! It runs away and it is loud and wild. Annoying.”
I remember smiling to myself and thinking, “One person’s loss in another person’s gain. That’s my Tippy!”
A day and a half later, on the eve of the morning I’d take Tippy to
PetSmart to meet the lady from “Cat Angels, “ I arrived home from work
and Tippy was nowhere to be found.
“Great,” I thought.
Luckily, I knew exactly where she’d be – in the bushes downstairs, where as far as I know, she lived.
I called Tippy and she quickly came out of the bushes, followed me
upstairs and boom, I fed her inside of my apartment. She never hesitated
coming inside that first time – a starving cat must eat!
At the same time, I locked KC in a different part of the apartment so
they wouldn’t have any contact, eventually got Tippy into the bathroom
and the next morning, took her to PetSmart, where she must have had the
worst day of her life.
Here was this feral cat inside of a cat carrier, completely trapped,
and going to be that way for several hours until the lady at “Cat
Angels” could take her north to Amelia Island where she would be taken
care of and watched after for a couple of days inside of a cage. That
Those two days were long as I waited for Tippy to return but
eventually, she came home with me when I met the lady at the ferry of
Mayport, which is the naval base in Jacksonville. Tippy was in that same
old cat carrier and I remember her being VERY quiet on the drive home.
Once home, she took refuge in my bathroom, where she lived the first
four or five days with me. KC would hiss and scratch at the door,
obviously unhappy, but Tippy never reacted. She was too sweet and too
happy to have a home and surprisingly, not very scared in the bathroom.
Eventually, it was time to socialize KC and Tippy, so I began feeding
them on opposite sides of the door so they’d associate each other’s
smell with something good (food). I also switched the blankets they
slept on regularly with each other so they’d get used to each other’s
The day I decided to introduce them to each other, KC hissed and
growled and was not happy. Tippy just backed off and minded her own
business. She just wanted to be friends and didn’t understand why KC was
being so territorial! My Mom said, “David, this isn’t going to work.” I
said, “Yes it will, trust me. KC showed interest in all of the cats
when I’d feed them and likes them, it’ll just take a few days.”
Luckily, I was completely right and within a week, the two were best
friends. They remain that way today and I’m pretty sure KC (who is
probably a year older than Tippy and much bigger) believes that Tippy is
her kitten. She cleans her nonstop, watches after her and the reverse
Both KC and Tippy are my best friends. They wait for me each night at
the bottom of the steps when I get home. They follow me around. They
sleep with me. They love attention and love to play. They are AWESOME
animals. I couldn’t ask for better companions.
As I finish this on Thanksgiving Eve 2013, I can’t help but think of
how awesome Tippy has become and how lucky I was to have her adopt me.
Any of her two relatives would have been great cats too but it was her,
the third choice, the “annoying cat” and the cat that nobody wanted that
has become the best pet you could ever imagine.
I firmly believe Tippy is eternally grateful and thankful for me and I
can tell you that the feeling is mutual. She has the nicest heart you
can ever find on any creature – I mean that. She wouldn’t harm a fly.
All she wants to do is love you and be loved.
Tippy is still fairly scared of anyone that comes over and anyone she
doesn’t know, and she still wants to hide when it rains or thunders,
even six years later. She’ll run underneath the sink and open the
cabinets and hide from storms/threats, unless she’s within a foot of me
during all such events, where I can “protect her” from it (in her mind).
I am thankful for a lot on this day of reflection, and Tippy is right
at the top of that list, as are the countless amount of
underappreciated animal volunteers who run organizations like “Cat
Angels” and help save innocent animals day after day, week after week,
month after month, year after year.
I’m also thankful that you stayed with me and read this story, and I
hope it helps you realize how many poor animals are out there that need
homes, both in shelters and otherwise. Just you caring enough to read
this shows me you are ready for that next step – saving a cat or dog.
So next time you see a wild cat or dog, consider helping it, whether
that be feeding and taming to take to an organization to foster, or
whether that be you adopting. Or go to your local animal shelter and
adopt one – there are thousands that are stuck in a cage and just need a
chance to blossom. Let them love you the way Tippy does.
In closing, sometimes I like to think back to those hot summer nights
in Jacksonville, a place I’ve never been back to since I moved to
Kansas City on January 1st, 2009. I like to wonder what happened to
Tippy’s brothers, sisters and parents (and there were lots).
Perhaps and probably all went the way of most feral cats – eventually
dead from disease, run over by a car or picked up by animal control.
But maybe they’re still out there, out amongst the palm trees and
humidity, out in that same parking lot at night, chasing each other
around like when they were young and just waiting for a two-legged
creature to take the time to notice them and give them a chance.