Even if scientists have shown it takes more than six steps to connect any two people in the world, experience tells us that the small world factor is often at work.
The day after my husband and I adopted our orange tabby, Gordon, from the Meow cat shelter, I heard from Janis, the woman who trapped and cared for him until the shelter had space. Unbeknownst to us, Janis and I retired from the same school system. She learned from the shelter that Gordon had moved to our home and gotten stuck under a cabinet (see Save the Cat). She recognized my name from the adoption papers and called.
I passed on this story to Sharon, whom I used to work with, who shared it with Shelby, another former colleague, who knew the trapper. Shelby and Janis were connected through their volunteer work with the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project. When Shelby found out I had met Janis, she forwarded a newsletter in which Janis was honored “for her unwavering commitment and dedication to homeless cats and kittens everywhere…”
One cat — four human connections. I decided to interview the woman who’d started the chain reaction.
Janis says that making sure all cats receive the services they need — spaying/neutering, blood tests and immunizations — is all in a day’s volunteer work. Her job also involves housing cats in her garage and home for days or even weeks. Gordon, who had been on the loose for a while, was in her care for a month, while she worked to tame him so he would be adoptable.
The recession has not made her job easier. When people walk away from foreclosed homes they often leave their pets behind, which means her volunteer job comes with plenty of pressure. “The demand for what I do is so high,” Janis says. “The shelters simply cannot take in so many free-roaming cats. What I find most distressing is not knowing what to do with the cats in some situations.” Yet she persists.
One example of success for Janis is finding a good home for a cat. I thank her and Gordon for being part of these small world connections. If Gordon could talk he’d tell her she’d done a good job, what with his regular meals, toys to play with, room to roam around, and two laps to lie on. Come to think of it, Gordon can talk. The comment on his medical record was “most vocal award!” Maybe Janis also knows what might keep him quiet.
Lovely sequencing, Ann. I could see the connections between the four cat lovers, which is not an easy story to tell. You did so clearly, logically and succinctly. Whew!