talking pictures: door sixteen.
by victoria comment

11/10/09

i love today’s [talking pictures], from anna of the new york-based blog door sixteen. having adopted my dog cooper, i guess i can relate to how much love and appreciation ‘adopted or rescue’ animals give back. this is one sweet story of one lucky cat.  for more beautiful thoughts and sharing from anna, visit her blog door sixteen.

sly

this is anna’s [talking picture]: “This is Sylvester. When my husband and I bought our house in Newburgh, New York, he was one among a number of homeless cats living on our block. Three and a half years later, Sylvester is the only cat who remains.

I’m not sure when we decided that his name is Sylvester, but we were shocked when we discovered that our neighbors had dubbed him “Blackjack”. I’m not even sure how we came to the conclusion the he is even a “he”, but this is what he is to us. He’s always seemed like a toughie, too — we’ve seen cars have to take alternate parking spaces because Sylvester didn’t want to give up his spot in the sun.

About a year ago, I held my hand out and crouched down on the sidewalk, about 20 feet from Sly. I expected him to take off; to do that thing that stray cats do when humans come too close. To my great surprise, he came running over! I pet his head tentatively, and he responded with a rub and a purr. For months, this was our routine. Days would pass when I wouldn’t see him, and I would worry. He always reappeared eventually, though. After a couple of winters, we never saw any of the other cats again. Just Sylvester.

A few months ago, a house across the street from us became vacant and went up for auction. The previous residents had made a practice of dumping cat food on their porch, which is where I’m assuming Sylvester got most of his sustenance. With them gone, he had nothing to eat. He lost his “tough” look, and started to get skinny. His fur became dull and dirty-looking.

At the end of September, I started doing that thing that everyone always says not to do: I put food and water out for a stray cat. Sylvester didn’t hesitate for the second! He gobbled down the entire dish, then let me pick him up and give him a cuddle. How could I deny this guy a meal? How could I let him starve?

My husband is severely allergic to cats, and we have two small dogs. Bringing Sylvester indoors is not an option. Regardless, I don’t think this guy would be very happy living inside after being an outdoor cat for so long. Fortunately, we live on a one-way street with very little traffic, and Sly spends most of his time napping in the sun on our porch. There is no wildlife here to hurt him. There isn’t a feral cat population here.

Next weekend, I’m going to make an insulated shelter to go under our porch so he has a place to go when it’s freezing cold.

I think he’ll be okay.

Sometimes you just need to do what feels right in your heart, and not worry about the shoulds and shouldn’ts too much.”

[ thanks again to guest blogger anna of Door Sixteen! ]

26 responses to “talking pictures: door sixteen.”

  1. Anna —

    My father is the ultimate friend to alley cats. He has literally cared for dozens in the course of his law practice in a little building in the Dallas uptown area. Your story sounds much like one of his!
    I wanted to tell you how my dad created a stray cat shelter for the winter: he took a Styrofoam cooler and glued it closed, then he cut a hole in one side and attached a little burlap flap (to keep the wind out) and then (because the thing was so terribly unattractive and not built to last for years) he covered it in thin wood sheets.
    It is a very popular place for kitties and has been duplicated a few times to accommodate multiple alley cats per cold winter’s night.

    Some people have bird houses but my dad has cat houses.

  2. Awwww, Anna you are the best! I love hearing that I’m not the only one to give in to feeding strays (unfortunately I am too much of a sucker though, hence why my cats #6 and #7 are in my house right now). You mention that this guy seems to prefer being outdoors. I thought just about all strays were like that….until I brought in one, then another then another…and they never EVER asked to go outside again. :) Cats are pretty damn smart.

  3. Such a sweet story and photograph! We picked our kitten up off of the highway over the summer. She was malnourished and covered in ticks, but with TLC and lots of snuggles, she’s become quite the sassy little ball of energy. We couldn’t imagine life without her (and I don’t think she could imagine life without comfy laps)

  4. Good for you Anna! Sometimes you just have to do what feels right. Of course that’s how I ended up with four(!) cats. How could anyone resist Sylvester’s sweet little face anyway? I know I probably couldn’t. I farmed off one of our strays on a friend and he adapted in a couple of days to living indoors so you never know.

  5. People like Anna & Victoria are my heroes. Folks who will rescue and loved another living creature who asks for nothing and gives their unconditional love and devotion in return. Bravo!

    I have spent many years volunteering in animal rescue and have several rescued “fur-kids” and also care for a feral community in my neighborhood so I can relate and appreciate Anna & Victoria’s experiences with their rescued critters.

    I find that rescues are devoted, fiercely loyal & have the utmost appreciation for those who have extended the helping hand. If only everyone did more of this on a day to day basis, oh what a wonderful world it would be! :)

  6. That sounds like a sweet stray to have around.

    My dad insulated our cat houses with that pink insulation board on the inside, and one particularly cold winter, he installed a coil of plumbing heat tape under the floor and plugged it in. The cat house stayed in the 40s/50s inside!

  7. This is the most wonderful story. Rescue animals are the best. They appreciate the second chance and give back your love in multiples…
    My friend who volunteers in a shelter was telling me that recently finding new homes has been hard – especially for the older cats. So, if anybody is considering adopting, now is the time to act!!

  8. Thanks for a great story.

    My wife Annie and I have been feeding a feral cat for 7 years. We named him Willie – after Will Ferrill – or Will Feral. (He could just as well have been named Colin, being that Annie is from Ireland and all.)

    Based on my allergies to them, I am not what you would call a cat lover. Much more a dog person. But Willie is cool. He lives outside, would never think of coming into our house, and I enjoy seeing him in our garden. Perfect cat. I feed him every morning, with him waiting for me with his meows and hisses. He has never gathered the courage to allow me to touch him, but Annie has had him sniff her hand a time or two. I’m convinced he is closer to Annies because she gives him the good stuff – food from a can as opposed to a hard bits in the bag I provide.

    When we had our house on the market last year, we insisted in the disclosures that Willie came with the house, and that we have been feeding him for years, and hoped the new owners did, too. We didn’t end up selling our house, and I think Willie was happy about that.

    So were we.

  9. Oh this reminds me of the kitty that lived with me and my honey recently. We named him Flopper because one ear was permanently flopped over. He was our neighbors kitty but for some reason had decided he like our house better… maybe it was the turkey and kitty tuna or the heater in our small living room or the fact that we let him sleep on the pillow at night. We fell absolutely in love with him, until about two weeks ago he disappeared. It turns out that our neighbor who owned him moved and that Flopper went with him. We miss him terribly but know that his owner must be happy to have him back, he is such a sweet kitty. ;)

  10. Thank you for all the nice comments about Sylvester, everyone! :) I hope his story inspires at least a couple of people to do something nice for a stray animal in their neighborhood, too.

    Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your blog-space with me. I loved doing this!

  11. well, as i said cooper was adopted and he rescued me just as much as i rescued him, so i am all for pet adoptions. they are the best. thanks for sharing your photos and story, anna! xo

  12. I’m so happy you’re taking care of Sylvester! He’s so cute, and you’re a heroine! He’s got a safe home base now to hang out at. :) You might look into getting him his vaccine shots to give him that extra measure of protection since he’s outside. All my cats have been strays I’ve taken in and they’ve been the best kitties. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun times with him.

  13. Sylvester is a very lucky cat. I live in Casablanca and I have rescued 21 cats and 3 dogs. 19 of them are indoor cats. Our home has become a zoo! I think the word has come out in the stray cat community: go to the house with the green doors! It is cat heaven!

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