Development Dunderhead’s note: if ever you wonder about Simba‘s shimmering, spectacular mother Tara, prepare for your wonderings to turn into wonderfuls.
Our beloved volunteer and Simba-scribe is, despite our protests, still in Colorado. But she’s also still here…as we always say, “once a Tabby’s Place cat, always a Tabby’s Place cat.” But don’t take it from me… XO, AH
I want to tell you about this picture, and what I think of every time I see it.
My name is Tara, and when this picture was taken I had been a Tabby’s Place volunteer for about two years. I started out cleaning one of the solariums where the cats enjoy outdoor space, then eventually started helping with feeding, tours, adoptions, and a hundred other little things. That’s not something I say to brag, but rather to explain how every day spent at Tabby’s Place only made me want to be there more. For the cats, obviously, but also for the people, and for the atmosphere and feeling of “home” I got from being there.
Every person at Tabby’s Place is there because they love these animals – the sick, the injured, the emotionally wrecked. And that creates a home. Not just for the cats, but for the people as well.
So I spent whatever free time I had at Tabby’s Place (and still would, had I not moved to Colorado two years ago). And over my time there I learned that my favorite cats were the hard cases – the cats made ornery and mistrusting from years or stress and the cats whose illnesses or injuries had caused them to be deemed “unadoptable” in some other place.
And that’s how I fell in love with Tyke.
Tyke came in presenting with neurological issues of mysterious origin. What we hoped was cerebellar hypoplasia – a disorder that causes cats to be “wobbly” but isn’t painful and doesn’t inhibit their ability to have a long, healthy life – urned out to be lysosomal storage disease. Storage disease is a disorder wherein the cat is unable to metabolize certain chemicals properly and eventually causes the nervous system to stop functioning. It is degenerative and fatal.
So this sweet, tiny kitten was handed a death sentence. In most shelters he’d have been euthanized right there. But at Tabby’s Place, we might for any animal that wants to be alive. And Tyke wanted so much to be alive. He ate like a champ and played as much as the limbs he could barely control would allow. He loved to be hugged and held and petted, and would soak up the attention he got from the staff and volunteers.
Someone asked me how I could stand it, knowing that this poor kitten was dying and would break my heart. But all I could think of was how much he deserved to be loved while he was here.
And the truth is, this work will break your heart. At some point you will fall helplessly in love with an animal that you will lose. It will be unfair, and too painful to bear… until the next set of big eyes looks into yours and you do it all over again.
I don’t know if that’s the case with any type of animal rescue work, but Tabby’s Place seeks out the most desperate souls and so to work there is to sign up to be heartbroken. But with that heartbreak comes so much joy! You will also get to see cats who were too shy to come out of hiding blossom into playful bundles of happiness and find their forever homes. You will see the medical staff perform miracles. You will see and experience love like you’ve never known in your life. You will, I hope, know the singular joy of earning the trust of a cat who doesn’t give it lightly and feel the elation is having earned it.
And you’ll meet some of the most extraordinary, kind, generous people you will ever know.
That’s what I think of when I see this picture. I remember the heartbreak of losing that little cat, but also the joy of all the other cats I got to love and help and the friends I made that I will have for the rest of my life.
If you choose to volunteer, I hope you can say the same.
Pictured in top thumbnail: Tara and Pixie