This week in the U.S., we honor those who served.
This week every second of every hour of every day at Tabby’s Place, we honor those who serve are served.
Veterans: whether they’re Armed Forces members or elder statescats, they are our heroes.
Whether they fly from the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli or beach themselves upon the shore of the Tabby’s Place lobby, they command our respect.
And whether they’ve seen combat or just the business end of a pill popper, they stand a little taller when we show our appreciation.
All most kidding aside, the truth is that many Tabby’s Place cats have experienced some form of “combat.” The difference, of course, is that they had no choice to enlist. When it comes to “hopeless situations,” every cat is drafted.
I suppose that’s true for all of us.
Take one of our longest-time residents, Toya. She didn’t choose to end up at an open-intake shelter. She didn’t volunteer for the euthanasia list. (She did take pride in intimidating the Tabby’s Place staff so much that they literally drew straws as to who would have to medicate her.) She chose the adopter of her dreams, a soulmate-human of sorts, but didn’t sign up for the sorrow of losing her to death. She did not enlist in a return trip to Tabby’s Place.
But she has not complained. (OK, except when we squeeze ointment in her eyes, but that’s another story about another kind of courage.) She has not mired herself in martyrdom. She has, simply, fought for joy another day.
Or look to Shy, the sliest sliver of black fur in Suite C.* She didn’t raise her hand for the crowded-shelter lottery. Neither did Shy choose Tabby’s Place, or the hordes of humans who have harassed her for the last eight years. If she had her druthers, Shy might have enlisted for a quiet life in the company of exclusively her own species. But she’s been called to something greater, and she’s seized her purpose with quiet determination. Shy may slide below the radar, but don’t think she’s simply lying low. The aptly-named cat is the Navy Seal of the feline world, barrel-rolling beneath human hands for a higher call. Shy’s special service is soothing other cats, and she’s on the front lines of welcoming shaky souls to Tabby’s Place. We may never get more than a fleeting stroke across her back, but that’s OK: she’s on mission. She’s at peace.
Our battle axes have something in common with human vets.** They’ve dodged sharp and ugly shards of reality…but they blaze on, believing there’s goodness worth fighting for.
Of course, it’s one thing to be willing to die for a cause. It’s quite another to go through the mundane, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other business of living for it day after day. Life after the battle takes uncommon courage.
And this is where our cats and champions of all kinds may teach us the most.
Today will have its challenges; of that, we can be certain. But crack the kernel of hardship, and find your calling. The creature in front of you, the chances before your eyes, the absurdity and wonder outside your door are beckoning you. There’s a world of mystery and need and joy. We are all called. We are all chosen.
And we have some great examples in at least two species.
So consider this a public service announcement: thank a veteran today.
Need a little inspiration? Practice your salute on these Tabby’s Place treasures. Each icon pictured here has served us faithfully for 5+ years. Yes, technically we’re the ones serving them (meds and bowls of delicious slop and kisses and such)…but we all know who’s really doing who a favor here.
Thank you for your service, cats and captains.
*OK, by “sliver” I mean “hulking slab.” But let’s not split hairs. Every cat is as svelte as she feels.
**That’s vets as in veterans, of course. Cats collectively, vehemently disavow having anything, including carbon, in common with veterinarians.
And to all the humans who have served our country, thank you from the depths of my heart. You give us the freedom to delight in cats and life itself, and we love you. Posted in memory of veterans Henry Townsend and George Lempfert. Thank you, Dad and Grandpa. I cherish you.