We’ve been quiet for a while as we steadily make progress on Faerie Rising, but yesterday we stumbled upon a new story that needed to be told.
For the last several days our area has been iced over; which means, for you lovely readers who do not experience ice storms, that everything, from the cars to the most delicate tips of the bare tree branches, has been encased in ice. It is exquisitely beautiful when the light hits the ice, but it also means that it is so cold all water freezes quickly and the humidity drops sharply, turning the area into a frozen desert of sorts.
As we sat warm in our office writing, we received a panicked phone call from my writing partner’s step-father. Her parents live nearby in our rural lake-side neighborhood and as he drove past our house he found a kitty that seemed to have been hit by a car lying on the side of the road. He was afraid it was one of our boys. Only one of our cats currently goes outside, the other two being too young, yet, so at first we also panicked that something had happened to our Perseus. But when he described a cat that looked nothing like any of our three we relaxed – and then went into rescue mode. There was a kitty that needed help!
Miss Kitty was small, black and white, and wore a collar with no tags. Her fur was dirty and she hung so limp as we wrapped her in a towel we feared her back had been broken. The hours crawled by and she barely moved – once or twice we thought she was gone. My writing partner braved the cold and went knocking on what few doors there are to knock on, but no one answered. We found curious evidence of where she might have belonged – a small outdoor pet house, an excessively full food dish and a frozen water bowl – but the people at that house had been gone for days. Finally we made the decision that if her back had indeed been broken we could not leave her to languish over the holiday. We warmed up and chipped out the car and tucked her inside for the long drive to town and the veterinarian’s mercy.
In the parking lot I opened the car door to get her carrier out, and was greeted with a surprise. There was Miss Kitty, sitting up and looking at us with her green eyes. Something had changed during the car ride. We took her inside and the vet gave us a revelation. She was an elderly kitty, and dehydrated, which indicated it had been a few days since she had had access to water. She did not have a broken back, and had probably not been hit at all. Rather, it was the cold that had gotten her. At her age she simply did not have any business being outside, and combined with the dehydration her body just gave out. She had been very close to freezing to death. Had she not collapsed where she did, and had my writing partner’s father not driven by and noticed her, she would never have made it.
She was a very lucky kitty.
So, this is a winter message for everyone who has animals. Pets freeze to death every winter. Miss Kitty was not a stray, not one of the forgotten – she wore a collar, she belonged to someone, and that someone left her to the cold. So, please, make sure your pets are warm and safe. Make sure they have access to fresh water and food, and have a warm and secure place to sleep at night. An investment in a heated water dish and warming pads for outdoor pets can make the difference between life and death, even for young and healthy animals. And the “but animals have fur coats, they’re made to sleep outside” argument is nonsense. You try sleeping outside in your outerwear and come tell me how comfy you were. We’ve domesticated the toughness out of most of our pets, and even those more rugged breeds are vulnerable to extremes when very young and old.
The ASPCA is a wonderful organization that is dedicated to the protection of animals. They have an amazing variety of resources from animal adoption to pet care to helping with the ongoing fight against animal cruelty.
From our family to yours, have a safe, warm, and happy holiday season.