“I want to take him home with me,” he confessed to me.
One of the fellow volunteers was sitting cross-legged on a mat full of felines lounging lazily or pawing playfully at toys. Only one sole cat was curled up in a ball in the volunteer’s lap. He was a black and white swirled cat that resembled an oreo cookie or yodel sweet dessert. His eyes were half-closed as he soaked up all the love that he could in that lap that he saw as a cushioned bed. His name was Jay.
“So, why don’t you?” I asked staring lovingly at Jay. I had been a recipient of Jay’s lap loving ways that made you feel so in the moment and so loved that you forgot any and all cares and troubles.
He paused, “Because he’s old.”
It has been a month since I’ve been volunteering at the animal shelter. Out of all the cats that I have come to love and care for, Jay was at the top of the list. However, everyone has told me not to foster or adopt Jay because he is old. They say to me, “He’s old. You’re going to have lots of costly medical bills,” or “That’s very admirable, but he will break your heart when he dies sooner than all the other cats. You should get a kitten—you will have more time with them.” And, I think to myself when I hear these words, “Geez, how freely these people say these words about a cat…but how would anyone feel to be called and considered old and useless? How do people feel to be unwanted and rejected as though the world to turned its back on you?”
In this past month, I’ve seen how cat lovers are drawn and prefer the young kittens with their wide and innocent eyes and playful and outgoing demeanors. Me? I am drawn to the adult cats and particularly the ones that are hidden in corners, high up where you can’t find them, or the ones sullen and silent making me wonder how they wound up in the animal shelter.
I said to the animal shelter staff, “I don’t understand how Jay hasn’t been adopted yet. He is the only affectionate cat that crawls in your lap. He is so laidback and loving. I understand he is old, but what if the quality of time is more treasured and worth more than anything you could have experienced in comparison to a long quantity span of time that held no meaning? Isn’t that worth it then?”
“I understand what you are saying, Mary. I agree with you on everything you said here. But, that’s not the reality of the situation. The reality is that he is old and while people say they want to adopt him, they won’t out of fear of having a short amount of time with him or all the hefty medical bills involved.”
One of my fellow feline loving friends said to me, “If you take Jay, you have to be aware that your time with him will be more limited than if you take a younger cat.”
My response, “I learned long ago about the limits of time with any living thing. Nothing and no one lasts forever.”
One of my friends had been rooting for me to adopt Jay. My Father surprised me, too, when he said that I should take on Jay. I told them about my intent to foster Jay down the line, “I know how Jay feels when the world and people just focus on your negatives and reject you making it that your best isn’t good enough or you will never be better. I get the feeling when you are unwanted, taken for granted, and eventually discarded or always considered a second best rather than first prize winner. I think we can learn a lot from Jay…he is generally relaxed and chilled, gives love without any prerequisites, eats and exercises enough, sleeps a lot, and goes with the ebbs and flows of life and takes people as they come and especially go in his life. If I can give him a home for even a short amount of quantity time so he won’t grow old and alone in the shelter and be loved for him just being him then it will be worth all the quality that life and living can bring to him.”
None of us are perfect and all of us have experienced being ‘unwanted’ at some point in our lives for our weaknesses, our realities, and our ‘stuff.’ We all need support and for others to try to believe in us and see the best in us when life knocks us down. How challenging it is for us to believe in ourselves and be the best version of ourselves when others cannot or will not. It simply sucks when people are always rejecting you or pointing out and focusing on your negatives rather than your positives.
Do you think that focusing on the negatives can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of become these negatives and feeling like you can never do better or that you best is just not good enough? When have people knocked you down, rejected you, and did not believe in you that you started believed in the worst of yourself rather than the best version of yourself? When have you felt ‘unwanted’?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,