Charle Thibodeau
Special to the Citizen Telegram
Rifle, CO Colorado

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October 24, 2012
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Feline friend found through foreclosure

After reading an article recently on the homeless pets abandoned from foreclosed properties, I felt compelled to write this story.

As a means of additional income, I now clean foreclosed properties. Many of these homes are completely disgraceful and thoroughly filthy. Others are nearly immaculate, showing a true pride of ownership.

Desperation, hopelessness and sadness fill my mind as I walk into many of these homes, as I try to get a feel for those who were forced to vacate. Regardless of the situation, hard times have fallen on many as the number of foreclosed properties continues to flood the real estate market.

Often properties are filled with items the previous owner chose not to take, or were unable to move, perhaps not even knowing where they were going to live.

The first time I found food left in kitchen cupboards, I wondered, "Do you not need to eat wherever you are going?" Those folks must be in true dire straits.

I have discovered many unusual items, but one of the most intriguing was at a property in Delta County, far out in the dry, adobe countryside.

It was one of those blustery late spring days in May, when the wind was blowing so hard you could not see 100 feet in any direction. I entered the property to survey the damage. Once inside the house, a faint, quiet "meow" caught my attention.

As I meandered through the house determining the extent of my work for the day, gently calling "Kitty, kitty," the cries became louder. I deduced he had to be somewhere in the garage due to the volume of the howls, but there was still no sign of the cat.

Then I noticed a board covering an opening to the crawlspace under the house. It was screwed on the wall, undoubtedly as a safety precaution. Once I dismantled the temporary covering, this scrawny, skinny, black cat emerged from the opening. He was slightly hesitant, but yet relieved to have been rescued.

He slowly approached me, after determining I meant no harm, and began rubbing against my leg. I found a Tupperware lid that sufficed as a bowl for water and he drank and drank. I had a piece of cold pizza and a can of Vienna sausages in my lunch box that he consumed in between "meows" of sincere gratitude.

Undoubtedly he had survived on mice and bugs, but considering there was no water on the property, I don't know when he last had a drink. I'm not sure how long he was under that house but by the looks of him, it had been quite some time. His coat was brittle and full of dandruff, undoubtedly compromised from his insufficient diet.

As the winds continued to rage, I went about my day's work cleaning, with my new friend hesitant to let me out of his sight. He continually meowed as he explained his predicament to me in cat language. I understood his desperation and loneliness. I reciprocated by naming him Tom and we spent the day communicating in our own way.

I reassured him all day that I would not leave him, but as I began packing my supplies and finishing up in the garage, I noticed he had curled up on a shelf and was quietly watching me. I know he thought I would leave him. The sadness in his eyes as I began closing up the house was overwhelmingly sorrowful.

When I had finished, I loaded him in the truck and listened to his objective yowl for several miles until he quietly found a spot under my seat to hide from the motion of the vehicle.

As I drove, I was thinking I have no business taking this cat home. I have other animals. My very unsocial feline companion will be extremely perturbed. Then there is the terrier. How will he take to the new addition? I am renting. What will the landlord say? Of all the items left in this house, what am I to do with this cat?

All of a sudden, a loud voice in my head exclaimed, "This is not about you. The cat needs a home!"

I took Tom to the veterinarian prior to exposing him to my other household pets. She estimated his age at 8 to 9 years old. He was severely malnourished but otherwise seemed quite healthy.

Months later, he is now a part of our family.

My very unsocial female cat continues to spar with Tom on occasion, but has reluctantly accepted his presence and will actually share the bed with him. The dog, being raised with a cat, has pretty much left Tom alone, especially since Tom simply gives him that "don't mess with me" look.

Tom is a pretty complacent fellow, as long as the food dish is full. He has filled out beautifully and his coat is now silky and shiny. He often will sit and stare with a forlorn look and I am curious as to his thoughts.

My heart goes out to the folks who were forced to vacate that house. Whether by choice or by accident, they also lost their cat. I also believe that they would not intentionally leave behind such a special guy unless circumstances were beyond their control.

For those of you facing foreclosure situations, I can only hope that you will not abandon your pet, as they are a part of your family. There are alternatives: friends, family, shelters, even an ad in the newspaper "Free to a good home."

Write me, I will help. Please don't leave a helpless animal to survive on its own. They deserve better.

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The Post Independent Updated Oct 24, 2012 06:41PM Published Oct 24, 2012 06:38PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.