Unconditional Love

Some cats enter our lives accidentally, and then change them indelibly.

By Janiss Garza | Posted: November 25, 2013, 10 a.m. EST

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Tortoiseshell Kitten
Binga the kitten got comfortable in her home very quickly.
Tortoiseshell Kitten
As a kitten, Binga loved to explore.
Tortoiseshell Kitten
The little tortoiseshell kitten had a big impact on cat blogger Janiss, who felt a strong connection that never disappeared.
I was not looking for a small tortoiseshell kitten when I walked into the shelter that brisk fall day in October, 2000. In fact, I was not looking for a kitten at all. I was looking for a neighborhood cat that had been visiting my boyfriend and I for several weeks, but who had suddenly gone missing. The young black cat was clearly neglected by whoever owned him, and he since he got attention and snacks at my place, he hung around my house a lot. When he stopped showing up, I worried, and since I didn't know where he really lived, I went downtown to the Lacy Street Animal Control facility to see if he had shown up there. I didn't find him, but I did find a very friendly cat, also black, who kept grabbing my hair through the cage bars. I spent some time playing with him, but I also noticed a frantic, tiny kitten, screaming and swiping at me a couple of cages below. Her fur, black with splashes of orange and cream, were autumn festive. She fiercely grabbed my fingers and began licking them. This kitten was too little to be at a shelter and too wild to be confined to a metal cage. Even though I'd decided I wanted to bring the young black cat home, I knew I had to spring the kitten too, just to get her out of there. My boyfriend Brian worked at a vet clinic and I was sure they would find a home for her.

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At the time, the shelter wasn't releasing black cats until after Halloween, so I had to wait a couple of weeks and come back for the black cat, but I was free to take the kitten any time I wanted. I convinced Brian to come out with me that Saturday and rescue her. She was just barely over the 2 pound limit to be spayed so after we signed the papers they told us I could pick her up Monday at the veterinary clinic associated with the shelter.

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The tortoiseshell kitten was a little sneezy when I picked her up from the clinic – she'd started to come down with that respiratory ailment which plagues so many cats at shelters. But neither that nor her spay surgery dampened her spirits. She was thrilled to have escaped the cold metal cage and was ready for adventure. I was happy that I rescued this little creature, with no strings attached and no sense of possession. She was going straight to the clinic where Brian worked. It felt good to rescue her. I placed the kitten in a cardboard carrier and we were off.

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But as I drove through the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, the kitten grew ever more restless inside the dark carrier, and although she had already been mewing intermittently, she began loudly squealing in earnest. Her little paws clawed at the cardboard holes and finally, just past the Silver Lake Reservoir, I pulled the car to the curb and did what we both really wanted: I let her out of the carrier to explore the car for a few minutes.

Learn about Binga's roommate Sparkle the Designer Cat >>

The kitten cheerfully squeaked and explored the car's dashboard – she was so small she could fit between the ledge and overhang that framed the odometer, with room to spare. Finally I picked her up and we looked at each other and the most surprising feeling came over me. It was this incredible endorphin rush of emotion. It was love freely given and totally present. I loved this kitten unconditionally, even if I never saw her again after this day. It was the most amazing feeling I've ever had.

The neighborhood cat showed up again, and a couple of weeks later, on Nov. 1, I arrived at the Lacy Street shelter moments after it opened to pick up the black cat I wanted to adopt. Except he was taken! A woman had shown up mere minutes before I did and claimed him as her own. "That has never happened here, especially for a black cat," said the shelter worker at the desk. So I went home with an empty cardboard carrier, and as soon as I walked in, I picked up the phone and called Brian at work.

"Bring that kitten home," I told him. And Binga has been here ever since.
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Unconditional Love

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Reader Comments

GracieLove    Reno, NV

12/3/2013 2:40:06 PM

Cute! Love the pictures!

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