She sat next to the entry, holding still for pets, caresses, and scratches under the chin. She purred at a more intense stroke, reaching her head up. She nuzzled my hand. I went into the gas station, thinking she must be their pet, but then I realized such cats are usually inside, so I asked. She was not theirs. This mother cat had appeared about a week before, apparently dumped at the freeway Shell station. People had been feeding her the remains of their Big Macs and fries. She waited where she had been left. And waited.
Once I knew, I couldn’t leave her, so I picked her up. She came without protest, turning slightly so I saw her hard, enlarged breasts, recently milk-engorged. She was a mother cat, separated from kittens a short time ago. Some cats are on the far side of tame, but not this one. She was kind, affectionate, ready to purr at the slightest stroke. She curled in my lap as we drove the remaining 12 miles into San Antonio.
Who would abandon their cat at a freeway gas station? Who would abandon their cat at all? Or their dog? Some get left at rest areas, perhaps by owners who imagine someone will come along and adopt them. Mostly they wait, starving, until they are hit by a car, or slowly die of thirst. They could be taken to shelters, but maybe that is too much work for these inconsiderate people. Or maybe they cannot face the certainty of what might happen at a shelter compared to the uncertainty of abandonment. The pets pay the price of this conceit.
Others give their lives to caring for these discarded lives. In San Antonio there are several no-kill shelters, the Humane Society, Animal Defense League , and a site with other listings, mostly about dogs. In Austin, my daughter volunteered at Austin Pets Alive often. It even leashed up dogs for joggers to take for a run along the river trails. There is also a San Antonio Pets Alive.
Cats and dogs have been bred for tameness for many generations. They do not do well on their own. It is not good for the environment for them to be left alone. Dogs form dangerous packs. Cats kill birds by the thousands, so even tame ones should be kept inside. Both need loving homes and must be neutered. Those wanting pets can get great ones at the local shelters.
The story ended happily for this tabby. I called a friend who happened to be in San Antonio for her daughter’s graduation from wonderful Trinity University. She had a friend who had a sister who fostered cats and dogs. After much back and forth and effort by loving strangers, they found a home needing a cat. Chris came to Trinity and picked the abandoned mother up. She will be spayed, allowed to recover, then join a family with three children. She has just the temperament for kids, tolerant, relaxed, patient, happy to be petted, and very willing to purr.
I hope I don’t come across another abandoned pet soon. This one was lucky, but I can’t help thinking of all the others and of the human inconsideration and desperateness that would cause this suffering.