So, on April 19, 1995 my love affair with cats and rescuing them began. I was determined, as a 17 year old kid, to get a pet. My mom and I lived with my aunt (major animal lover,) and her two daughters, my cousins…but more like my sisters. We also shared our home with two kitties Cleo, momma cat, and Patches her baby daughter. I knew that my aunt, being the owner of the house, would not mind another animal. Perhaps there was a bit of manipulation involved, but I knew that if my aunt accepted an animal I brought home that my Mom couldn’t make me take it back. Oh boy did that work. April 19, 1995 I stepped foot into the Humane Society of Pinellas on my way to school. (I wasn’t skipping high school, short version I was an International Baccalaureate geek and taking my IB exams, so we didn’t have class from basically March – June as March was study time, April & May were all our exams and June we graduated! So I had an exam at like 2 pm and stopped at HSP.) HSP was a different place, smaller, less animals but still the same heart. I walked in, walked outside to look at dogs and cats, and didn’t see any kittens. So I went back inside to find a woman just coming in the door with a large carrier filled with kittens.
Her story, which she shared with the lady doing the intake, as well as me as I quietly oogled the kittens changed my life forever. I simply believe she was the originator of Pay if Forward, though she didn’t know it. The woman had a litter of I believe 8 or 9 kittens, and they were from the neighbor’s siamese cat which they had abandoned after they realized she was pregnant. The woman and her family took the cat in, and kept their shed for her home, and provided a comfortable, safe place for her. They fed her, cared for her, and even witnessed the kittens being born. They kept the kittens and Mom until all were old enough for being spayed or neutered and to have all their shots. They were 6 weeks old (therefore the birthday was 3/8/95…this is important so stay with me) and the woman had all the kittens fully vetted, and the momma cat spayed. She then brought them all to HSP. As she was telling the intake woman this information I was getting excited as I saw several black cats in the litter. I REALLY wanted a black cat. Always have since I can remember and I really wanted a boy black cat. So, I had to leave…but I knew I would be back after I took my exam as I was determined to have myself my first pet that day.
So on the way home, I stopped again. I had cash that I stopped at the bank to get, to pay the adoption fee, and I was ready to pick up my little guy. So I went out to see the kittens and grabbed up the cute ball of black fur. This kitten wanted anything but me. He was a wiggle worm and squirmy and just wanted to get away from me. Now, I know I said Momma cat was a siamese, and she was…a beautiful shorthair. But Daddy cat was a feral black long haired cat. So the litter consisted of black, grey (think Russian Blue grey,) and black & white kittens. The only other male in this litter was a black long haired cat. And being allergic to cats myself, I decided that I should probably stick to a short haired cat.
Well as I was trying to meet other kittens, this little ball of grey energy and excitement was attacking my shoes. Chewing the laces, scratching on them, jumping on my legs…scratching them as well…lol. I swiped her up and put her tiny face to mine and said ‘hey, what’s your problem?!’ And she responded by licking my nose. I was done. 100% sold. And so that day, Zoe Sohre Meade came home with me. She decided upon arriving at our home, however, that my aunt was a much better Momma to her than me. So for the first almost 2 years of her life, she slept with my aunt, was her cat and loved her…not me. My aunt moved up to Massachusetts though, and Zoe had to become my cat. We have had many ups and downs together, pink eye when she was about 3, lots of animals killed and brought home when she was an outdoor kitty, 5 moves, a handful of boyfriends and fiances, sad times, happy times, memories, memories and memories.
When Zoe hit 12 years old back in 2007, she started to have issues walking, was getting very arthritic and she wasn’t my fiesty Zoe cat anymore. So we set out to help her however we could. For 12 years of her life she had also had Urinary Tract Infections each year…then I heard about this wonderful food called Halo and it was made locally here in FL. I was thrilled to say the least. This food could supposedly help with her arthritis. I was there. Until it was almost $2 for a can the size of a coke can…yikes. BUT fear not, Halo is more amazing than any other company, and they actually offered up their recipes right on the website. So, we started to make our own cat food. 5 years later, best decision ever. Still have my Zoe cat. And in 2008 I had to volunteer somewhere for a job that I had, and I got in touch with HSP. 4 years later, my life is even more changed after volunteering with them. But I consider my volunteering there paying back what they gave me in Zoe for the last 17 years, and hopefully many more years to come.
While Zoe is going to be 17 in just a week, she is and always will be my baby girl. Sure we have Zeus (10,) Juno (4 next month,) and Cole (2 1/2 but still a kitten mentally!) but Zoe was and is and always will be special. 6 months ago I had to make a difficult decision to put her on K/D by Science Diet. And I HATE Science Diet…it’s crap food. But she doesn’t throw up anymore and she has gained weight, so if she is healthy and I can still have her in my life without putting her through pain or discomfort I will take it. However, she sustained some sort of issue in her tail about 7 years ago, and what happened, we’ll never know. But she had a small section, maybe half the width of a dollar bill, in length that was numb. That numbness has gotten far more severe. It’s almost 2/3 of her tail. So last week we saw the amazing and caring Dr. Kevin Conrad of Sunset Point Animal Hospital in Clearwater, FL. Dr. Conrad is also the volunteer vet, yes volunteer, he is a saint I am sure, at HSP. And he is very knowledgeable in the area of veterinary surgery. So, I took Zoe to see him regarding her tail. Dr. Conrad suggested we amputate it to prevent the numbness from going down the tail further, and potentially into her hind quarters, causing her to lose bladder and bowel control. So, on 3/7/12 Zoe will be a little less Zoe, and lose some of her tail. But she will never lose the love that I have for her. She might be a grumpy old Grizabella cat, but she is the most beautiful girl I have ever met and she is mine. My baby, my girl. Always and forever. Zoe Roo, if it weren’t for you, my first pet, my first true love, there are so many lives that wouldnt’ have been touched: because of you Ruby Roo, I got Zeus, then Juno, and eventually took in Ellie Mae, who gave birth to Dominic, Sarah and Cole. Because of you, I became a foster momma at HSP, and fostered Remy, Thomas, Bruce, Marvin and Smith. We now have Nicole, Emma, Juliette and Roxy as fosters. Zoe, because of you Kimmay adopted Jelly at HSP; because I volunteer there and always talk about it. Amanda & Joey adopted Jethro and Saharra. Zoe Roo, that is 20 animals and countless people who’s lives are forever changed because of you. Zoe, your name means ‘life’ in Greek. And you have brought so much more to my life than the kisses, hisses, purrs and growls, more than the thousands of dollars spent on vet care. You have always brought life. And one day, when yours is over, the lives of those you impacted continue on.
Oh how I wish I could thank the lady who surrendered you. You were cared for and loved, and she paid it forward. And I will spend the rest of my life paying it back for what I have because of it. I love you Zoe Roo. My Ruby Roo, my Zoe bear, my potato…I love you.