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Help Arrives When You Need it Most: Advice from a Stray 🐾

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Advice from a Stray from The Whine Bar by Ally Brown CPC

Although I am a dedicated feline enthusiast, I truly had no intentions of writing about a cat today, and then there was Dina.

Last Saturday was a day that is the epitome of why my husband and I made the decision to live in North Carolina. It was about ninety degrees out, sunny, and a might bit humid. As such, we decided to take in the North Carolina Zoo. After an exhausting day filled with inquiry and smiles, the temps cooled off, and some unexpected rain started to move in. Mother Nature thanked us for spending the day with her by providing us with the perfect night to sit on our screened-in deck, engulfed in cool moisture with a steaming cup of bold dark roast to warm us.

We had been out there for about an hour or so and were deep into a conversation when my husband mentioned a rabbit he had seen in our yard the day prior. It was at that moment that I noticed something on the ground by the bottom of our bird feeder. I had been engrossed in conversation and staring out at the feeder but had not noticed anything odd about the ground under the feeder until that moment. I thought it was a rock, but then it moved. I thought it was a squirrel, but it was a little too big. Then I noticed it was a cat, but it was not the feral cat we have been feeding for the past 3 years, nor was it any of the cats I have seen patrolling our neighborhood. “There’s a cat!” I exclaimed as I popped out of my chair, out the door of the deck, and down to the feeder. Tony followed behind. The next thing I knew I was crouched down in the rain, barefoot, in my pajamas, trying to coax a scared little kitty out from underneath our shed.

She was scared. She was crying. Eventually, she would come out for a moment, but the first noise she heard – a car, a bird, anything – she would run back under the shed. Finally, some Iams and a can of wet food and her hunger overshadowed the fear of this unknown place. As soon as she ate, she purred and started rubbing on my legs, but the deep, but caring voice of my husband sent her under the shed again. Leaving her a bowl of kibble, we returned to our deck, where our 5 cats were waiting to unhappily greet us.

The next day, she heard my voice and came out to purr and rub on me. I fed her and spent time with her, coaxing her out from her hideaway home as often as I could. The Furry Five were watching me from the screen-enclosed deck. When I went in the house, I left my shoes in the garage, I sanitized my hands and the container of kibble I brought out with me, I changed into clean clothes and washed my hands and sanitized them once again. Three more times that day I went out to see her and experienced my Hollywood level of wardrobe change each time. I knew that my interactions with any stray could bring diseases to our indoor cats, so I did what I needed to in order to keep The Furry Five safe.

The next day Tony fed her. She purred and rubbed on him. He did what he needed to for feline health and safety as well, and he continues to.

We had no idea where she came from, she just magically appeared, so we referred to this little 4-month-old as Houdini. We posted her picture and information on the NextDoor app in hopes of finding her owner. We drove around looking for lost cat signs. We have spent hours on end with her and our new covid like cleaning ritual. Houdini has now become known as Dina. She crawls up on my lap, we play together and we love on each other. She appears to be a happy purry playful little lady.

Dina has not left our property since that Saturday evening. Yesterday, I put together a bed for her and moved her bowls underneath our deck. Now, she does not leave that area except to step off to do her business in private. The Furry Five are intrigued by her. They watch her and cutely mew when she ascends the deck stairs to stretch out on one of them or to put her nose close to them. The nightly ritual of the march of the felines as they come in from the deck for the evening has since become more of a battle than a march. I believe they are wondering why Dina isn’t coming in as well.

Dina needed us and we came to her without a question. We are spending countless hours inconveniencing ourselves in order to help out this little one in need. We have spent sleepless nights worrying about what will happen to her. This post is coming out late because I have been on the phone all day trying to find someone that I trust to come to take her in or a vet to make sure she is healthy so that we can bring her in and make her a part of our home if need be.

Caring for Dina reminds me of the many times in my life that I have been challenged, when I have needed help, and help arrived. Sometimes the help came from outside sources and sometimes from inside me. This time my help came from an outside source.

I am in menopause and so, admittedly, my emotions are at times all over the place. But lately, I think they have legitimacy to them.

Here’s where I am at, and bear with me because there is a reason behind my upcoming rant.

As I said, I am in menopause, so my lifelong concern over aging is slapping me right in the face with the grace of a two-by-four. My youthful body that I had already thought was a challenge, now add drooping, ballooning, and rapid temperature changes to the point that I have the starring role in my own personal zombie apocalypse. My husband, who I adore, is 9 years older than me, so “retirement planning “is a frequent conversation that I do not adore. Not that we will ever retire in the true sense of the word, but still, it doesn’t have the warm and fuzzy “50 years from now” vibe to it. Our parents didn’t stop aging, so there’s that. And to boot, we just became grandparents in February - a wonderful event that to me is a careful balance of thrill and the single scariest thing that has ever occurred. Oh, and at 55, I quit my 9-5 job to live my dream of becoming an author and be paid to finally do what I love to do. Courageous yet frightening. Husband, grandchild, and author equal joy beyond my wildest imagination. Menopause, aging, and knowing that I hold the title of grandparent equals the scariest thing imaginable. To sum it up, I feel like I am in the first row of the ride car at the top of the steepest hill of the world’s tallest roller coaster, excited for the brakes to release and to feel the exhilaration of what lies ahead but the ride broke down so I am stuck there.

And then Dina showed up needing help.

And the ride car started to inch forward.

The little stray animal has helped me as much as we have helped her.

Maybe she will forever remain part of our family, or maybe she is meant to purr and rub on and love on someone else as she helps them. Whatever is meant to be, will be and I am OK with that. But until that time, two strangers will do whatever they can to help each other when they need it the most.

Try following the advice of our lost and frightened friends, and lend a helping hand when it’s needed, even if it’s inconvenient for you. You just may get more in return than you give!

Save a life and adopt a rescue!


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