CAT FRIDAY: Special Monday edition - the story of a cat who changed everything

For this special Monday edition of Cat Friday, I've decided to share a personal story about the single most important animal (a cat, duh) ever in my life, who I can entirely credit for inspiring me to become a crazy cat lady. It gets more sentimental than just that, though.

Seriously, if it weren’t for this cat entering my life, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about her — or any other cats featured on Cat Friday, for that matter — for all the other cat people out there to enjoy and reflect upon. (It can also be deduced that the cubicle walls surrounding me probably wouldn’t be covered in cat posters, and chances are, my favorite hobby definitely wouldn’t be volunteering at a local animal shelter.)

Ten years ago today, on Sept. 23, 2003, this tiny life-changing cat came into the world, birthed to a mother cat I never saw, and with an unknown number of siblings in her litter. But it wasn’t until three months later that she entered my life and, shortly after, stole my heart.

Cold, shivering and soaked from a frigid December rain, she cowered under a royal blue U.S. Postal Service letter-drop box outside a rural post office on the shore of Long Lake where the two-lane highway snaked around the curving shore. It was an unnaturally dark night, but in peering out the car window as we stopped to pick up our mail, my younger brother somehow still saw the tiny silhouette seeking shelter there.

click to enlarge A photo of Alice as a kitten, taken shortly after we brought her home and she joined the family.
A photo of Alice as a kitten, taken shortly after we brought her home and she joined the family.

We couldn’t just leave her. I believe without question that she’d have faced a less fortunate fate — a speeding car, a coyote, an owl, even. Or the cold.

My younger sister — at the time our family’s sole self-proclaimed cat lover — snatched the little kitten up seconds before her efforts would have been for naught. We wrapped the skinny, terrified and wet thing up in a spare towel kept in the car and took her home. Later we realized that she'd been either dumped there, or born to a stray or feral mother cat.

The rest of the story of Alice (named after the curious Lewis Carroll heroine) entering mine and my family’s lives has since been one of an immeasurable amount of joy and amusement, as the “kitty from under the mailbox” became the common love of all of us.

At the time we found her I was 15. While in no way was our family — myself, my sister and brother and our mother — fragmented or dysfunctional, Alice, the tiny little brown and black tabby cat, was the uniting force that brought us even closer. Alice also became our family’s first indoor pet, which undoubtedly impacted how we all bonded with her. We’d had several family pets before, but because we lived in a rural country area these pets stayed outside — barn cats to manage rodent pests and dogs to guard the garden from hungry deer and nuisance coyotes.

Before Alice, I never know the bonds between a human and animal could be so profound. Now, I believe that I would go to any extreme for her. Today as I reflect back on the past ten years with Alice, I know my life would be drastically different had she not happened to be hiding, scared and lost, under that mailbox waiting for us to find her. 

Happy Birthday, Alice!