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This is a Post About a Cat

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Curtis had to have been asleep when he walked across the lawn, headed for the sound of trickling water. He padded past the dog, stretched insensate on the grass beneath the Japanese maple, and strode confidently through the birch grove in my sideyard. Open mouthed, I watched the gray tabby kitten crouch and begin to lap from the birdbath on the ground under my studio window. 

My mind raced. Every cat that enters my yard is a heart momentarily stopped, a fresh dilemma, a day re-routed. This is a bird sanctuary, and cats are at cross-purposes to my cause. So the first thing that springs to mind is, “Oh crap! A cat!! What am I going to do with this cat?” See, I live too far from anyone for it to belong to a neighbor. Any cat that shows up on my place is either traveling, or, more likely, has been dumped by an uncaring owner. But they all have something in common. They cannot stay here, hunting birds.

 I can usually tell by watching the animal whether it is used to being around people. If it’s jittery and nervous, looking over its shoulder and startling at the slightest sound, I will set a baited live trap, capture it if I can, and take it to the local shelter, along with a donation. I hate to add to the shelter’s burden, so I make it a decent donation. If it’s too wild and won’t go in the trap, I will leave Curtis to keep an eye out for it and give it the bum’s rush when he sees it. The Treeing Tennessee Brindle doesn’t need to be asked twice. He takes his job seriously; he came to me with a strong anti-cat stance, and that is one of the things that hasn’t changed about my good good dog.

I liked the looks of this cat as far as sociability, so I let myself out the lower patio door, leaned around the corner, and spoke softly to it. Its head popped up, it mewed, and walked toward me, already purring. Oh my gosh. Without thinking a thing about it, I swept it up in my arms and held it against my chest. My God, I could feel every bone in its body. A quick check showed it was an unneutered male. 

Without alerting Curtis to his presence, I snuck him in the lower patio door and took him upstairs. He seemed amazed and thrilled to be inside a house. You can see how terribly thin he is, without any of that flubber that hangs down on most cat bellies. And look at the sharp angle of his spine. His pelvis bones protruded...he had been without food for a very long time.


As I ran my hand over and over his knobby spine, I felt myself falling down a well of need—the need to do right by this animal, who was so instantly trusting of me. 


It was also a well of impossibility. I cannot have a cat, committed as I am to providing a safe refuge for birds here on Indigo Hill. Keep him indoors then! But no-- I’m strongly allergic to cats—already my eyes had begun to itch, my nose to drip. Dang it!! Here I stood, holding a kitten in my arms, knowing that I had just taken the first step down a long, long road, but also knowing this one was too special for the local shelter, already overflowing with needy cats. This one came with a loving heart, not skittish in the least. That's something. That's huge.

 I grabbed some of Curtis’ kibble and put it on a plate. He bumped it with his nose, clearly hungry, but apparently didn’t recognize it as edible. Plan 2: I had some cooked chicken breast in the fridge. That clicked. He was so hungry he meowed loudly as he ate—yow yow myow myow myow. 

I finished his meal with a tablespoon of cottage cheese—eagerly accepted. Then I soaked some dog kibble in hot water until it was mushy, and that disappeared, too. He kept leaving his food to bump me with his head and curl around me, purring, saying thank you between bites. It made me laugh, how concerned he was about communicating his gratitude to me.

 As I bustled about the kitchen, the little cat wound in and around my ankles, nearly tripping me a dozen times. More than the food he so desperately needed, he wanted to be ON me—on my lap, shoulder, in my arms. It was an utterly novel sensation, to be courted by a cat in my own house. 


Neglected and pitifully malnourished, he was also dirty, and his fur felt dusty and skeezy. He needed a bath! I thought quickly. I can do this. He's gonna let me. I visualized success. First, I filled a bowl with warm water and dipped his front paws in it. No big deal; he kept purring. So I filled the bathroom sink with warm water, and gently lowered him into it. Squeezed a little baby shampoo onto him and soaped him up. He did stop purring then, but he hung with me through the rinse! His little limbs stuck out to the side, but he never once flailed or turned a claw on me, and I got him clean and sweet-smelling in nothing flat. Just talked him through it. I had to towel him dry because the hairdryer was deemed a bit scary. I'll grant him that. Obviously there are no videos of that process. Bathing a cat--even a sweet compliant kitten--is a two-handed proposition!

With each minute that went by, I was more amazed at this kitten. I’ve never seen an animal so plainly state his needs and desires—it was as if he had a magic hookup to my heart. Like he had one chance to make it work, and he was giving it all he had. Willing to compromise, to work with me.

Now that he was fed and bathed, we could get to that third great need of his: to be loved. This was the biggest of all his needs and desires. 

Oh, it was something to sit down with a sleepy kitten on my lap, to heart his hypnotic purrring.

To know that his fate was in my hands. That he trusted me completely. I felt my blood pressure go down, felt his need and my love mingle and soak into my soul. He was definitely giving back for everything he'd gotten.

Now that his immediate needs were met and we were settled, I called Shila. She'd know what to do. I briefed her on the situation, and she grabbed a pet carrier, jumped in the car, and headed right out, because it was a Caturday and she's that kind of friend. With my allergies and Curtis' prey drive and strong anti-cat stance, she felt Purvis was safer staying with her until we could get him to our wonderful veterinarian, get him stable and strong, find him a home. 

And it was Shila who documented me, the crazy bird lady, with a cat asleep on her lap, for probably the first time since I was 13.


"What color is the sky today?" I asked her. "Is it still blue, or has it turned purple? Because here I sit with a cat on my lap, and I'm loving it."

I named him Purvis. I could have been cute and spelled it Purrvis but I try to be subtle, not cute. 

He can be yours, you know. He needs to be someone's baby, and he will bring so much joy. I wouldn't do this for just any cat. He's very, very special. You get renaming rights, of course, if Purvis as a name doesn't make your canary chirp.

If you or someone you know can give Purvis a forever indoor home, please email 


I've configured it that way to confound the spam bots that steal email addresses. For those who might be unfamiliar, I am in southeast Ohio, 18 miles NE of Marietta.

 I'm convinced that, after having the worst start in life, this cat deserves the best we can do for him. There is more to his story, but that's enough for now. With all fingers crossed for an alignment of the stars, for the right person to take this perfect kitten, I remain gratefully yours, JZ


Julie, you are a true mensch in every way, a human being with a heart so big that it fills the world with love. That you rescued this sweet, loving, adorable kitty cat is a profound message of kindness that ripples through the universe. Any creature that crosses paths with you is lucky in every way. Thank you for all you do.

There is a Columbus OH rescue group, Forgotten 4 Paws, that might be able to help advertise Purvis to help him find his new family. My niece, who is not on Facebook, works with them, so I'll also e-mail her about Purvis.
Here's the group's Facebook page and website:
[Also posted as a comment on your Facebook post about Purvis.]
Robin Hunt Benedict

How lovely, what a great purrrr he has - and funny but that is exactly how Snitzi Lynne spells CAT, too! Nothing beats a loving tiger boy like that - so glad he found you, who recognized his goodness and knew what to do. Purvis got to eat off the good china.

I think his name ought to be Impervious.
Yes, I know the feel of their capturing your heart.

Awww! My youngest daughter had a cat find her like that, she rescued him and he is the biggest love-bug ever! I hope you find him a nice home...I'll just throw this out here, Purina has a cat food that helps reduce the allergens on a cat's coat/dander! According the reviews it seems to work.

A startling post from you, but we knew you have a soft heart. And they do worm their way into hearts. Seems like a real lover.

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