The Adventures of Teagan; Ep. 15
The large Petco store was cold and noisy. Harsh fluorescent lights illuminated the merchandise, but left little hiding space in the cramped, one-cat condo. A tortie, barely a year old, lay curled in a tight ball in the cat bed, staring out the glass display window at all the people coming and going. There was just enough room to stand and walk two paces before turning around. She had a cardboard scratching post, a thin blanket, and empty food dish. The adoption coordinator only fed her and the other cat one can of wet food twice a day.
The tortie had a name, some arrangement of letters in bold on the laminated piece of paper hanging from her cage door, but they didn’t mean anything to her. She had been at the pet store for almost two weeks. People came and gawked. The Petco employees would take her out and carry her around the store after closing (she didn’t much like that).
She laid her head down again. She was tired and congested. The coordinator gave her medicine every day; it helped with her runny nose, but her chest was still tight. It was near closing time, so the coordinator had already left for the day. A young woman came in and headed straight for the adoption display. She waved down an employee who then set up the fence around the cages and unlocked the doors. The woman looked at the tortie’s neighbor first. The old bag was just as lethargic and mellow as her, except she didn’t really have an excuse.
Then the woman came and opened her door. The tortie stood up. She wasn’t sure why, but there was something about this woman that drew her up and out of the cage. She hopped down without any help and promptly sat in the woman’s lap. The woman stroked her fur gently, let her sniff those unfamiliar hands. The woman exuded peace and safety. The little tortie stayed there a few more moments, soaking in the love and tender caresses. But she tired quickly these days, and stood, hopped back into her cage, and settled down again. The woman regarded her with a compassionate, thoughtful look.
The very next day, the woman was back. She spoke to the adoption coordinator, signed some papers, and suddenly the little tortie was tucked away in a cardboard box, shuffled out to a car, and driven away. When she was finally let out of the stuffy box, she found herself in a strange place. It had a window that let soft light in. There was carpet, and a food bowl with enough dry food to last all day. There was even a litter box big enough for the tortie to turn around in.
The woman gently picked her up and set her on the bed. It was huge and plush, and had a gigantic fleece blanket folded at the end. The tortie lay down immediately and began purring. She had never known such luxury.
The next few days were a trial. Though the woman was nice, the tortie was once again ripped from this comfort and taken to the cold, sterile room with the metal table that could only be the vet. She was given new medicine, and though it took a while, she started to regain her strength. The woman sat with her through it all, though. She whispered soothing phrases in her ear and pet her while she slept.
“Teagan,” the woman said.
She purred, unaware of what the word meant at that time, though soon she would come to own it, and to know the woman who gave it to her as “Mom.”
Note: Teagan had a bad infection, but the rescue organization had only been treating the symptoms of a cold. She was pretty sick after we took her home, and I have no doubt she would have died had she stayed at the pet store. The vet bill was definitely not something I signed up for when I adopted her, but I don’t regret it one bit. Teagan is happy and healthy now, and one of the best things in my life. 🙂