When Big Things happen, they happen quickly.
One morning you’re a paragraph away from finishing the Great American Novel, but it may as well be ten thousand tomes of invisible ink.
The next, epiphany hits and you’ve got yourself a magnum opus.
One night you’re watching Miami Vice reruns and eating Funyuns in your holey sweatpants.
The next, you’re on the last first date you’ll ever have.
One drizzly day, you’re a stray seventeen-year-old cat, many miles and dreams from when you first began.
The next, a microchip leads you all the way home…from Georgia to Jersey.
We did just that in 2005.
Two thousand five, homies. To put things in perspective, in 2005:
- George W. Bush was newly into his second term.
- We were all pretty sure we were going to die of bird flu.
- Tom Cruise jumped up and down on Oprah’s couch.
- We were all playing Sudoku while listening to American Idiot and Hollaback Girl (all of us — including Dick Cheney and the flu-stricken birds).
- Tabby’s Place was less than two years old, a toddler in the animal rescue playground.
And black, beautiful Kitty was a mere seven years old.
She was sweet. She was snuggly. She was more stimulating than Sudoku. So we all jumped up and down with delight when she was adopted into a forever home.
Emphasis on the “forever,” of course. Kitty was many things — “unfortunately-named” among them — but she was not, most assuredly not, no hollaback girl.
Years dropped off the vine. Presidents switched. The folk revival strummed into full glory.
And Kitty loved and lived and thrived. Last we heard from her family, they were Georgia-bound. We wished our wonderful girl well in the land of peaches and magnolias.
More years. More music.
And then…mystery, in the form of a friendly phone call.
“Hi Angela, I’m calling from Fulton County Animal Services. We’ve just picked up a cat whose microchip scans back to your organization.”
My brain scrambled to keep up. “Errrmm, Fulton County. May I ask where that is? I don’t recognize your area code.”
Hunterdon County, I know. Bucks County, I know. Two Orange Counties, I know. But Fulton County?
“Oh, yeah,” said Cheerful Mystery Caller (hereafter CMC). “We’re in Atlanta.”
That’s around the time my brain actually exploded, and my poor coworkers had a terrible mess to clean up.
Once I patched my neurons back together, I spluttered something like, “Us Ringoes. You Atlanta. That far. How happen? No compute. Mumford Mumford Mumford.”
CMC was understanding. “Yeah, you guys are up in New Jersey, right? Do you have any idea how she got here? Do you want her back?”
That much I could handle. “YES! YES YES YES YES YES WITH THE HEAT OF TEN THOUSAND SUNS YES!”
From there, a flurry of details unfurled, deepening the mystery. When we looked up that microchip number, we pinned the tail on Tabby’s Place Resident #232…out of 1,653 and counting.
Yes, that was our Kitty. No, we could not reach her adopter (“We’re sorry, this number is out of service…”). No, there we no lost cat reports matching Kitty’s charming description in the Atlanta area. Yes, even Kitty’s adopter’s references had numbers that were out of service. No, we don’t know if they collectively joined the Witness Protection Program.
But, yes — hallelujah, yes — Kitty was fine. Healthy. Happy, even, and snugglier than ever.
No, CMC and her fellow Fultoners could not believe that Kitty was seventeen years old.
“Seventeen?” squeaked CMC. “Oh my goodness, she’s very healthy. We’d never have guessed her at that age.”
Now came the challenge of getting our teenage queen home to Jersey in time for Prom.
At this point, I would like to extend what is professionally known as “mad props” to the team at Fulton County Animal Services. As we scrambled to set up transport,* CMC and her dream team promised that Kitty was absolutely safe in their keeping — and that they’d smother her with the love she was lapping up like buttermilk. Although they were awash with over two hundred dogs, Team Fulton had only six cats, including Kitty, so there was no fearful rush to race her out the door.
She was secure. She was all snuggled up. And she was heading home.
Let us all take a moment to marvel at microchips. Without a microchip, Kitty would have been just another stray. Without a microchip, that mysterious, miraculous call would have never come.
Without a microchip…well, that’s a sentence we don’t need to finish. (PSA: Microchip yo’ cat/dog/anteater. Do it today. Really. Please. For the love of Kitty.)
As Providence would have it, Tabby’s Place has some marvelous mateys down South. The road warriors who brought us Luna were happy to help ferry Kitty home.
And, kittens, that’s just what they’re doing even as we speak.
But when Big Things like this happen, they don’t only bless one being. If you thought Kitty was the only kitty to get a heaven-sent kiss in this story, you’re…well, not quite an American Idiot.**
As a titanic thanks to our transport team (holla, Georgia Heartland Humane Society), we’ll be taking in one of the cats they recently rescued. Kitty’s traveling companion will be five-year-old Sierra, a puddle of fluff and fun who I predict will be adopted before you can say “what bird flu?”
Miracles. Big Things. For two cats and a whole coast of humans, the beauty has only just begun.
*Jonathan politely declined Denise’s and my offer to go to Atlanta, perhaps because it was contingent on swinging by SXSW and Bonnaroo — both Kitty’s requests.
**Which I say with great affection, since I am a Flaming American Dunderhead Doofus Dork. Just not a hollaback girl.
All photos courtesy of the superstars at Georgia Heartland Humane Society.