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What My Cat Taught Me About Community

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  • Tip Bones

I didn't grow up with cats. My mom was allergic, and our house wasn't made to house felines. All the cats I ever interacted with were mean, and my bad experience of being clawed by the shop cat at the florist shop where my mom worked, and by the housecat that lurked in the shadows of my grandparents' house, turned me off to cats in general for years. Then I met Jack.

Jack was born a feral cat. There are a lot of them where I grew up, and our big property with a number of hiding places was the perfect place for a kitty colony. In the old boat we took out every summer, Jack was born in the late spring, and summer came too soon. Maybe because she couldn't sta hydrated enough to feed him, or maybe because she net her match with a coyote, Jack's mother stopped coming to care for him. The boat was parked next to our hay barn, and every day when we passed by, little Jack would cry. He was dying.

But Jack was wild: he was taught to hide from us humans. But we were never ones to abandon a helpless animal, and so we set about gaining his trust. A piece of hay twine hung over the side of the boat, wiggling, was our first interaction with the kitten. We then started leaving food and water for him. Eventually, he showed himself fully, and I petted him for the first time.

Over time, he would demand our attention when we passed, and eventually we grew fond of him. So we adopted him, doing our best to shield him from the dangers of the life of a feral cat. Now, he has a cozy bed, a full bowl, and all the attention he wants, as well as veterinary care.

Jack was in crisis, as many of us are right now. Yet, despite his instinct to hide away, he cried out for help. In dire times, it's important to ask for help when you need it. On his own, Jack would have certainly died, but with the help of the community around him, he not only survived, but thrived enough to become a feature of my childhood home. In this tough moment of history, be like Jack. Do what you can, and lean on the supports and help that you need. A social community is how all of humanity (and Jack) have endured-- even if we have to be distant right now.

Photo: Original- Kitten Jack