Our Animal Heroes

Animal Hero“Love of animals is a universal impulse, a common ground on which all of us may meet. By loving and understanding animals, perhaps we humans shall come to understand each other.”
— Louis J. Camuti

My cat, Teresa, was put to sleep yesterday.  I posted her photograph and brief story on Facebook.  I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have posted comments offering sympathetic words of comfort for me and to offer tribute to Teresa.  Over 100 people, in fact, have responded so far.  I’ve posted notices of other pets I’ve lost, but none have garnered the reaction that she has.  Why is that?

As I read through the comments I noticed a common thread developing as people were responding to her story and applauding her sacrifice and selflessness.  Some even called her a “rescuer.”  People who weren’t event “cat people” seemed moved by her passing.

You see, Teresa was brought to the local animal shelter in 2004 with her litter of five kittens.  Shortly thereafter another litter of five were brought in, but without their mother.  Too young to be on their own, and shelter staff wanting to save their lives, the five were put in with Teresa and her litter to see if she could nurse all ten — a daunting responsibility.

Teresa — who actually came to the shelter nameless and was later named after Mother Teresa — would literally cry out in pain while nursing the kittens who fed throughout the day and night in shifts.  She persevered through the discomfort offering the same unconditional love for all ten.

Perhaps that’s what has touched people — the illustration of unconditional love and a wanting to know that we’re protected from the storms of life, like Teresa protected those kittens.  In this day and age when the media reports every bad thing that can be found, it’s a sighing relief to read about a cat that had enough love in her heart to help kittens that weren’t her own.  Reports about terrorism, government shutdowns, child molesters and worse have ruled the headlines for too long.  Let’s talk about what’s right in the world, even it means starting with a heartwarming tale about a cat.

Maybe our animal friends can remind us humans about what’s important — that we’re all connected.  We need to play more, laugh more, and love more.  We shouldn’t be competing against one another, we should be helping each other.  Teresa knew that instinctively and deep down inside, so do we.