Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series.
Back in the 1980s I was a student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in the Bay Area of Northern California. When Jeanne and I first moved into the seminary apartment complex, we were told by management not to feed the feral cats in the neighborhood.
We initially obey this command. That didn’t last too long, however. We didn’t feed all the cats, mind you, only a mother and her two kittens. Eventually, Jeanne and I leaned that some other residents of the apartment complex did the same.
One woman had already adopted “Momma” and fed her on a consistent basis. Another apartment-dweller, a man, had also adopted one of Momma’s kittens, a calico. We eventually adopted Momma’s remaining kitten. We named him Tawny, because of the golden color of his eyes.
Tawny grew into an adult cat. Since he was a kitten, I had taken the time to sit outside of our apartment and slowly gain the trust of the cat. At an early age he would allow me to scratch his back for a few seconds. A while later, he would accept me petting him. One day, when it rained heavily and he was soaked, I coaxed him into the apartment. I took a towel and dried him off. He didn’t mind a bit. I let him out after the storm had passed.
The next thing we knew, Tawny began slipping into the apartment when we’d open the door. He wanted to go in to explore for short periods of time. Then he would want out.
To our surprise, we woke up one morning to discovered that Tawny had snuck into the apartment and had spent the night underneath our bed.
All was fine until one day he didn’t show up. We grew concerned.
On the third day of Tawny’s absence, I returned from classes and was talking with someone outside at the apartment complex. It was then that I heard a meow. I instantly knew that it was Tawny. However, I couldn’t see him anywhere. I began calling out his name. The meowing continued. I followed the sound across the parking lot, where there were bushes. Tawny crawled out to greet me. I picked him up in my arms and he began to purr loudly. My heart sank. Both of his front legs were broken.
Initially, I had no idea what to do. The thought then crossed my mind to have him euthanized. It would be the right thing to do to put him out of his suffering.
So, I carried him with me back to the apartment, entered, wrapped him in a towel and set him on the floor. I used the Yellow Pages to look up a veterinarian. I found one that had a rather unique advertisement. He offered a “mobile vet” service. He didn’t mind coming to your home. I called his office and explained the situation. A short time later, Dr. Brent arrived. How much would he charge to have Tawny euthanized? I had no idea, and I was a financially-strapped student.
Continued next week.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.