When I was four years old, my dad and I stumbled upon two precious tiny tabby kittens in a local Tennessee pet store. Later named Emily and Ella, our new feline friends quickly earned a place in our hearts and there they will forever remain. My very first memories as a child include Emily and Ella; I grew up with their love. Ella became our first angel in 2009, and Emily joined her sister in 2012 just shy of her nineteenth birthday but not lacking in feisty spirit. Anyone who knows the Rantz family well knows that our cats are of the utmost importance to us. All four of us, even my sister whose eyes instantly redden and swell within five feet of cats, are the definition of crazy cat people. Emily and Ella were not just our pets, they were family.
As my relationship with Brad grew stronger and we began to plan my move to New York, I knew there was only one thing that could make my new place feel like home. Brad surprised me on the eve of my graduation from Michigan State with an eight-week-old brother and sister kitten duo. When you lose a furry friend you think your heart will never recover or love another as you did your new angel. I discovered in my first moments with Oliver and Lola that the best part of being a true animal lover is realizing that there is always more room in your heart for an animal in need. Their mom had abandoned them immediately after birth in the woods, but fortunately a kind soul contacted Always Hope Animal Rescue in time for them to swoop in just prior to their scheduled date to be euthanized. Every first big move away from home comes with a few moments of fear and loneliness. Mine were always eased by Oliver's constant smile (yes, I swear he is always smiling) and Lola's loving purr. Words cannot accurately describe how much we love them.
Even though Emily and Ella were perfect childhood companions from a reputable pet store, Oliver and Lola helped me develop a new found appreciation for the extreme importance of caring for and adopting rescue animals. It is upsetting to me that puppies and kittens are bred and sold for huge amounts of money when an unimaginable number of perfect pets are killed every day in over-capacity shelters. I once saw a graphic social media picture bringing awareness to this issue of a pile of literally hundreds of euthanized shelter cats. I don't think that image will ever leave my mind or heart. Rescue animals have such kind, gentle, and trusting personalities because they were raised by loving human hands from an early age. Certainly all animals deserve safe and happy homes, but why not focus more attention on spaying, neutering, and adopting from rescue shelters to help fix our overpopulation problem?
Rather than just standing on my soap box and shouting at the top of my lungs, I have recently decided to practice what I preach. I have opened my home and heart to rescue kittens. How could I resist an orphaned brother and sister pair whose mom had just died? Not to mention the little boy is Oliver's doppelgänger! I'm proud to report the little rascals are healthy, growing, and melting the hearts of everyone who meets them. When presented with a fostering opportunity by a co-worker, I'll admit I was hesitant for a few reasons. Could I learn to take care of kittens that are too young to be apart from their mom? Could I love them with just enough emotional separation that I could say goodbye at the end of my time with them? Brad was actually the one to suggest we keep them, not me! I knew I loved that guy for a reason. But even with his blessing, the logical side of me admitted four is just too many. Not to mention Oliver and Lola are just too perfect to risk any jealousy or health mishaps. Perhaps my first fostering experience has become a little easier knowing we won't have to entirely say goodbye. The little peanuts will be following in Emily and Ella's perfect paw prints as happy new additions to my mom and dad's home!
Please consider adopting your next furry family member from a rescue shelter. Or even make a small donation to one! April is the ASPCA's "Prevention of Animal Cruelty" month, and every loving effort helps.
Crazy cat lady steps off of soap box. Probably to go cuddle a cat.