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Glazer: Finally, a home for Vashti ... uh, Betty

POSTED: December 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.

I heard about the abandoned kitten last week. My friend Lisa lives in a trailer community with five or six other families. She told the story with the breathless terror that most folks reserve for relating their encounter with a bear ... or a zombie.

You see, Lisa is a true phobic when it comes to cats. They terrify her. They give her nightmares. Her idea of a perfect world would mean one without cats ... and maybe free beer.

She can’t explain why she has these feelings. She can’t recall a time when she didn’t feel that way. She even gets squeamish around ceramic and stuffed cats. She’s never been to my house because it would mean sharing space with four felines and that, for her, would be unimaginable agony.

So when a neighbor moved out under cover of darkness and left a half-grown kitten behind, it was a source of enormous consternation for Lisa. The tiny gray-and-white little girl went from door to door looking for her lost family, crying to be let in. 

Once when Lisa was leaving for work, the starving creature made a dash toward her door. When Lisa gasped, “God as my witness, Teressa, I thought I was having a heart attack,” I had no trouble believing her.

Yet in that entire neighborhood, Lisa, who had every reason to steer clear of what she viewed as a life-threatening beast, was the only one who showed the least bit of compassion for the rapidly weakening kitten.

It was obvious that the owners wouldn’t be returning for her. After Lisa told me about her, I started stopping by to leave food. When I was hit with a virus that left me bedridden for days, my friend Cheryl stepped in to feed her.

We were both struck by her air of sweetness. She would stumble out from under a trailer and give our legs a couple of appreciative rubs before diving into the bowl of food, purring as she gobbled it up in record time.

Something needed to be done. She couldn’t stay there forever. No one in the trailer park was going to help her. And Lisa might very well have a cardiac incident if they had another up close and personal encounter.

As soon as I was able to get out of the house again, my first stop was the trailer park. I watched the kitten eat enough kibble for a cat twice her size. Once sated, she climbed into my arms and purred contentedly. I swear she was smiling.

So the stray cat became Vashti, named for the banished queen in the Book of Esther. I knew her tenure at our house could only be temporary. We have four contrary, elderly cats who would surely be short of patience with a tiny interloper. We have an enthusiastic dog who outweighs her by 70 pounds but is under the mistaken impression that she, too, is a cat. That has to be a recipe for disaster if ever there’s been one.

Vashti snuggled on my husband’s chest as I snapped a picture of her gazing contentedly at the camera with impossibly green eyes. I uploaded the picture to Facebook along with a plea: “Vashti needs a home! Someone moved out of Lisa’s neighborhood and abandoned this sweet girl. She’s about 12 weeks old and incredibly loving. If you can find a place in your heart and home for this little baby, please let me know. We don’t have room for her here but I couldn’t leave her to starve.”

The first to respond to my plea was my cousin, Michael Turner. He and his wife, Linda, preside over a clowder of six cats so the idea of adoption was untenable. But he shared the posting with his far-flung galaxy of friends and they began to do the same. Then Robin Hale shared it. So did Myra Meade.

By then Vashti’s predicament was known to thousands. Surely someone, somewhere needed a kitten. I held my breath and kept refreshing the page.

Then there it was. Pam Ray stepped up and simply wrote: “I want her.”

And so Vashti has her happy ending. Within 15 minutes, she had been delivered, along with a couple days’ food, to her new home. She’s been rechristened Betty, and that’s just fine with me.

And now I just have a bit of unfinished business. To the stone-hearted residents of that trailer park, I have this to say: “I hope to heaven you’re never homeless. I hope you’re never on the streets without food or a friend or any resources at all. Because if the Laws of Kharma hold, you’ll be hard-pressed to find help. Shame on you. Shame on you all. “

And there’s a big thank you to Mark Zuckerberg, et. al., who gave us the remarkable social networking platform that is Facebook. It’s not just for sharing cute pictures of cats — it’s for making happy endings. 

Hear that sound? It’s Vashti/Betty. She’s purring.

Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.


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