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By Rocky De-Ville   
Kat, the Cat who Launched a Cause


Nashville, like many large cities, has a huge abandoned and abused animal problem. Shady kennel operations abound, and even the shelters appear in the news on a daily basis for the inhumane treatment of the poor creatures they are supposed to protect.   The problem has reached astronomical proportions since the recent mortgage collapse.  Many foreclosed homeowners abandon their pets to the streets, or even worse, lock them up in foreclosed homes, and left to starve. Since my wife Donni-Jay and I are animal lovers, we frequently discussed how we might bring attention to this serious issue.

The answer came to us a couple of months ago in the form of a stray white cat.  Donni-Jay and I were working on our land, digging holes for the fall planting of some trees.  It grew dark and we were about to pack up for the evening, when we saw a white blur dashing in and out of the holes.  Visibility was poor, and we suspected it was probably some wild animal.  But when we approached one of the holes, a white cat stuck his head out like a jack-in-the-box.

Over the next few days, the cat began to spend more time around our home.  Kat, as we nicknamed the creature, appeared to be gaunt and emaciated, but at the same time very suspicious and would not allow us to approach her.  We began to leave food out for Kat and even built a small shelter on our front deck.  We were skeptical about getting too close to Kat, as I am extremely allergic and Donni-Jay had a bad experience with a cat once and is a bit afraid of them.  Still, as animal lovers, we continued to feed and care for the little gal.

We would put out a dish of food for Kat two to three times a day, and soon we noticed she had grown to be a bit paunchy.  I thought perhaps she might be expecting kittens at one point.  When it rained, Donni and I would take turns holding an umbrella so Kat would not get wet whilst eating her meal.  It is amazing the spell she seemed to cast on us.

On nice days, Kat would lounge around the deck and sleep propped against the house with her paw raised contentedly in the air soaking up the afternoon sun.  At other times, she would fall asleep on the deck railing, and stay there for hours like an odd ornament.  Quite quickly, we began to grow quite attached to Kat.  She was extremely intelligent and seemed to understand everything we said to her. We loved the way she 'talked' to us and purred so loudly.

Kat appeared to be a Siamese mix, with huge blue eyes, the most crossed pair we had ever seen, and snow white fur with gray stripes along the front.  Actually, quite pretty in her own right, and quite a personality.

Kat went through a complete change in the brief time she spent with us.  She became quite affectionate and would grab our legs to prevent us from entering the house whenever we turned to leave her for the evening.  She would also butt us with her head like a little bull to try and keep us away from the door. 

All went well, until one evening when we heard a loud screech coming from the deck.  When Donni looked out the window, Kat was on her hind legs dueling with a huge black cat.  We chased the other cat away by banging on the window, but the next morning discovered Kat had a bloody paw and a bad limp.  We grew very concerned.  It was obvious that Kat would need medical attention, and also a home and someone to care for her.  I called several animal and rescue shelters, but no one had any room for Kat.  The County Animal shelter was not an option, as they would euthanize the poor creature if no one claimed her.

Frantic, I searched the Internet, and finally came across an organization known as the Freedom Farm.  They are what as known as a "no kill" shelter for animals.  That basically means they take animals in, attend to their medical needs, and then secure them a loving home.  If a suitable home is not found, then the cat or dog is placed indefinitely in a foster home of a Freedom Farm volunteer.  That seemed like an ideal solution, although unfortunately, as a volunteer organization, many animals must be turned away.

In any event, I spoke with the folks at the Freedom Farm, and they agreed to come out and take a look at Kat.  Immediately, the two cat women developed an affinity with Kat, and then took her away to the Freedom Farm shelter.  She received medical care and the vet said she was in fantastic shape, well-fed, and the paw was healing nicely.  That was also probably due to the fact that a couple of times when Kat was busy eating I zapped her paw with a squirt gun filled with disinfectant.  She hated that, and gave me the dirtiest look as she shot off into the night.

I felt bad, and worried that she might distrust me enough not to return.  But, fortunately, each time she came back, and the treatment obviously helped heal her paw.  Also, I am quite into holistic medicine, and sprinkled Arnica Montana on Kat's food, which promoted healing. It is well worth other pet owners knowing about the amazing healing powers of this product.

Even though Kat was receiving the best of care, we were quite heartsick to see her go, and Donni even cried.  A week or so went by and then, whilst buying some items for our showpom Seva, we noticed that Kat was up for adoption at PetSmart.  We were extremely happy to see that Kat was walking properly and her paw completely healed. She rubbed herself against the bars of the cage when she saw us, and it felt as though she had been part of our family. But, we were pleased that Kat was in a happier position with the chance of being a loved indoor cat.

PetSmart is a partner with Freedom Farm, and hosts an adoption show every Saturday morning.  During this show, prospective parents are allowed to view the cats and dogs, and adopt them.  It is a great venue for finding quality people and homes for these animals that would otherwise have been written off in the system and euthanized.

One of the most incredible points worth repeating about the Freedom Farm, is that is an all-volunteer organization.  It consists of dedicated animal lovers who go about rescuing animals, many times at their own peril.  I guess in our own right, Donni and I became foster parents for a brief time.  That is another way to help abandoned animals.  To offer them temporary homes until they can be adopted.

The bottom line is that Donni and I have jumped in whole-heartedly in support of this great organization. and will look out for others as genuinely helpful.  We are both musicians and are scheduled to perform at their next big fund-raising event to be held this summer in Nashville.  We are in touch with the organizers of that event and are very excited to be affiliated with this program.  Also, we are about to bring animal plight to as many people as possible, so they can volunteer as foster parents, open to take in animals until suitable permanent homes are found. There is so much work to do and this is the beginning for us.

So, in the end, our calling to help abandoned and abused animals, really found us, although initially, helping the homeless was a priority and now we had two priorities.  And, it was all instigated through a homeless, cross-eyed, white cat. 

The true meaning of this story is that people need to get involved.  To reach out and help in any way they can those who are more disadvantaged than themselves.  Incredibly, and sadly, that list is very, very long.  People can often lose focus on anything besides their career, goals and problems at work.  But, everyone can help, even in a small way.  Collectively a huge difference can be made.  Whether in the form of donations, foster care, adopting an abandoned animal, or even reporting cruelty, it all makes a difference. Will you?

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Kat, the Cat who Launched a Cause