It doesn’t take long for a stray to become family


The appointment with veterinarian Dr. Nancy Kelly in Adrian for Mickey was for Monday morning at 9:15.

In making the appointment on Friday I remember saying, I hope she lives until Monday.

She didn’t. I found the beautiful long-haired, stone-gray cat Sunday morning, dead on the bed I had made her in the garage.

How can you cry over a cat you had cared for only a week, maybe 10 days? The tears came easily. The half-grown cat had come to me for help as well as for food and immediately a sense of guilt overcame me. I should have taken it to an emergency clinic.

Dr. Kelly is retired but she still sees clients a few days a year at her former clinic. I patiently wait for her because she was Digby’s doctor as well as the person who keeps Geranium, Hemingway, and Lydia, the three house cats, in good stead.

Now in review I believe the injured cat had been hit by a car, even though she ate well and walked fairly well. When I discovered that it had been hurt I assumed it was by another animal, perhaps by a male feral cat. 

Here in the country, while the rest of us sleep, there is no patrol on the cruel habits of wildlife, including foxes and coyotes.

I wasn’t sure if the cat was a he or a she, so I named it Mickey that can be for either a male or female. Because one of its ears had never developed, I remembered it as one of the cats that came to the porch to eat in the winter and that also stayed in the garage.

Of the menagerie that was fed morning and night on those cold, snowy days the gray cat with the crumpled ear was the least wild and didn’t run, or even flinch, when I petted her. That was a clue she had once had a home with people who cared for her.

Mickey’s background became even more clear when she came to the porch injured. When I opened the door she came in and followed me through the house so tight to my ankles I thought she might be blind. 

She was very much at home lying on the rug in the kitchen and even jumped up on the sofa when I wasn’t watching.

All of this tells me that someone threw away a beautiful animal that wanted so much to live in the home where she came from, or in any home for that matter. For whatever reasons people have for discarding animals, they are never good enough or acceptable to those of us who see and enjoy animals as creatures that bring comfort and joy that nothing else can.

People who take in animals on a whim and are not willing to commit to the time and expense they cost, should not get involved. 

It is not something you get rid of just because you are tired of it, or the routine required to keep it fed and healthy. Most cats and dogs that are taken care of properly live several years and return our kindness in many ways. Mickey was buried in the same garden near Sullivan’s marker. Sullivan was my black cat that lived to be 20.

A friend had the nerve to question the Mickey story and pet commentary as a Mother’s Day column. And, I said, our pets are like family.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: