I believe in making a difference.
I’ve always been the kind of girl that loves animals. When I was little I would dig for worms and arrange them into little groups and name them. I would carry my kitty around in a loving choke hold; but that was when I was little, and I didn’t realize that animals were more than just pets; fun toys to play with. They were actually living, breathing, animals that lived on the same planet we did, and inhabited the same areas we did. Their needs and wants were something I didn’t know existed for them; something that I thought I was able to decide for them, not the other way around. Now that I’m older, I realize that animals really do have all of those—needs, wants, a life, and a voice. But that voice isn’t always heard.
When I was in eighth grade, there was a kitten running around wild in the lot next to our house. We put a “Have a Heart” trap out—a trap that once the animal walks in, it closes behind them—to see if we could save her. I was thrilled at the idea of rescuing an animal. Sometimes it was what I felt I needed to do. That was why, when we caught her, I didn’t mind how she jumped up the wall when we let her out into the bathroom, or the way she hissed at me when I would get too close. Even the way she scratched me when I put her into a carrier for her trip to the vet, and the way she left long, angry, red scratch marks along the backs of my hands and arms didn’t bother me. I knew that she was probably scared. When my mom told me that we could either go to Salem like we planned, or keep her, I, of course, chose to keep her. My sister wasn’t happy, but I stood firm, telling my mom that if we brought her to the shelter, we would condemn her to death, because no one would want to buy a wild cat that you couldn’t get anywhere near. People don’t take the time to understand.
Convincing—more like begging—my mom to let me keep her, just long enough to get her used to people didn’t take very long. I didn’t think it would be fair for us to take her away from the outside world when she would have had a better chance at survival there than if we brought her to a shelter. My mom agreed and I was ecstatic about “taming” her. My mom calls me the Cat Whisperer, because I have been the one to get our cats used to us at my house and they all follow me around the house. I love knowing that animals have some sort of dependency on me and that I can make a difference, even if it is by saving one life at a time.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.