In July of 2008, a skinny and very timid stray walked into my backyard. Her coat was a mix of black, orange and white and it was ruffled and unclean, as if she hadn’t had either the strength or energy to clean herself. She looked up at me with her perfectly round, bright green eyes and I couldn’t resist. I didn’t have any cats at the time and so I searched through my refrigerator and cabinets for something I could give her to eat. I came across some chicken leftovers I had from the night before. I warmed up the pieces I had cut and placed them on a paper napkin. When I first went outside of my screen porch, she bolted to the woods. So I placed the napkin and its contents in the middle of my yard and sat on my porch steps waiting to see if she’d return. Within moments I saw those same green eyes come out from the darkness and safety of the woods and then she took a few more steps to fully emerge from the overgrowth. She slinked across her half of the yard in slow motion, pausing after each and every step, never taking her eyes off of me. When she finally reached the napkin, she immediately starting gobbling up the chicken. I could tell this poor thing had not had regular meals in a while and I sat and wished I had more to give her. As soon as she finished she turned and darted back to the comfort of her woods… this was the first time I met my sweet Casey.
The next day she showed up at about the same time. However, I was prepared this go around because I had stopped on the way home from work and picked up a small bag of cat food on the off chance I’d see her again. So I put a little food on a paper plate and again placed it in the middle of the yard. I sat on the porch steps and waited. She returned once again, inhaling the food, watching me intently and then in a moment ran back to the woods when she was finished. I sat there for a minute wondering what else I could do for this pitiful creature. As I was pondering, she came back out of the woods and settled a few feet away from its shelter. Within minutes, I heard something, and then I saw something move… not one thing, but two things… and then, in a blink of an eye, two adorable, extremely tiny, black and white kittens bounded out of the woods and onto their mother. I was in awe of this little family that had decided to take residence in my backyard. And I decided I had to help.
Over the next weeks I continued to put food out for the trio. Each time moving it a little closer and closer to the house until finally one day they were eating just inches from my feet on the patio. I started handling the kittens; they were a little easier to win over. The more food I provided, the stronger and healthier they all became. So I decided to name them. Casey was the only name that came to mind for the beautiful calico that had arrived weeks earlier asking for help for her and her precious little ones. I had also been affectionately calling her “mama” for weeks and that continued to be used as well. But she deserved a name and so there it was, Casey. I named her babies Bogey and Audrey and thus began a wonderful friendship between me and this adorable family.
Over the years, Casey brought me one more litter before I could manage to catch her and have her spayed. During that time, sadly, Bogey and Audrey disappeared. But two from the second litter are the two that live in my home today, Bella and Callie. Gradually Casey let me befriend her. She was anxious at first each time I would stroke her head, but she quickly warmed up to it. She got to the point where she would follow me around until I pet her, and then it transitioned to holding her, and then on to laying in my lap for hours watching television.
She turned into the most social of all the creatures that call my home their home. She loved the neighbors and they loved her. My mother enjoyed her company and was thrilled to have a grandkitty she could actually love on a little. Casey was special, there was no doubt about it. Once she allowed love into her life, she turned into a completely different being. She was a great mother to her babies and a great companion to every human she came into contact with… and she never lost her appetite (ha, ha).
Casey was an indoor/outdoor cat. She loved coming in the house and spending a little time or staying in overnight when it was cold outside, but she also always loved being outside and was more comfortable there. So she spent her days coming and going as she pleased between my home, my screened porch, and the woods.
On September 28, 2012, I got up and fed the cats and opened the screen porch door to let them off to play for the day. Casey went too. She darted off into the woods, similarly to how she did that first day we met. I never thought that would be the last time I would see Casey.
For weeks I have called for her, walked my neighborhood looking for her, worried about her and hoped for nothing else but to see those beautiful, piercing green eyes looking in my front window at me asking to come inside and be fed for the night. I have waited and waited for that moment. But it never came.
Last night, on my way home from another beautiful day at the horse stable I found my lovely Casey. I was about a half-mile from my home and she was lying motionless on the side of the road. She’d been hit by a car. I pulled off into someone’s driveway, got out of my car to get a closer look and make sure it was her… it was. I was sick. My precious baby, my Casey-girl was gone. I couldn’t leave her there so I managed to pick up her tiny body and placed it gently into the trunk of my car. I had to bring her home.
So today I remember the wonderful love that Casey and I shared. The affection and sweetness she brought to my life and the safe place she could finally call home that I gave to her. I look at the two sweet faces of her babies, Bella and Callie, and I am reminded of how life goes on. I will never forget Casey, the pitiful little stray that needed some help. If truth was told, she’s helped me more than I could have ever helped her.