We had just arrived from a long flight to Barbados, and we dropped our bags in our room and headed to get a snack before dinner. As we sat down in the outdoor patio, a tiny ginger-and-white cat came into sight. I said, "Oh, what a cute kitty," and that was his cue. He came running over, jumped in my lap, grabbed the slice of pizza, and prepared to run. "Hey little buddy, hang on, I will get you food," I said.
I asked our daughter to get him something from the buffet. Then I noticed his terrible condition: He had a gash down his neck, and his eyes were oozing. My husband warned me to be careful, that I might catch something. I didn’t care. The cat sat in my lap until he was full, and he left.
At breakfast the next morning I looked down and saw a small black cat staring at me. His eyes were clouded over, and he looked very ill. I fed him as well. I spoke to a resort staff member and he said, "Oh, the cats with no eyes? Are they bothering you?" I said, "It’s bothering me they are living here in need of medical attention and nobody is doing anything." He said, "They don’t belong to the resort." For the rest of the week we fed these two cats and let them come in our room to get out of the heat.
One night the ginger-and-white cat slept in our bed with us and wouldn’t leave in the morning. Two days before we left, I said to my husband I could not leave them at the resort because they needed medical attention and would die without their eyesight. We called the RSPCA and learned that someone would come and pick up the two cats but we would have to get them to our room. We did, although we had never had them together. My husband was worried they would fight. Instead they played joyfully, chasing each other and hiding behind the curtains. It was so cute, we thought they were kittens. As it turns out, they were one to two years old.
The RSPCA showed up, and I put each one a crate. They looked up at us so trusting. I cried as they were taken away, hoping we did the right thing. I called the next morning to ask how they were. The person on the line asked, "What cats?" I was devastated, but the person said the cats might not have been processed yet.
Regardless, we had to catch our flight home. It was a very sad flight, and we missed the two cats. On the second plane home my husband turned to me and said, "You do whatever it takes to get them home to us."
We arrived home at midnight. I woke early the next day and called the RSPCA and asked about the cats. I learned that each one had surgery on their eyes and had been fixed. I also learned each one had a genetic disorder and was born without eyelids. I said we wanted to take them to live with us. I think she didn’t believe me. "Can you repeat that?" she said. Then she said the cats’ disorder would need several surgeries.
It took a month with lots of help from several people in Barbados, including transports, vets, someone to build suitable cages, and the airlines. Also, the RSPCA had to deal with me calling every day asking if the cats were OK and happy. The staffers asked us what the kitties’ names would be. The black cat was easy — I always wanted an all-black cat named Salem. The ginger-and-white cat we talked about for days and finally decided on Almond, after the resort where we found him.
The day finally arrived to pick them up from the airport. We were so excited as they flew from Barbados to Miami, staying there overnight, and then flying into Boston. We got the call saying they arrived.
When I walked into the cargo area and saw them they started meowing like crazy. As I put their big wooden crates in the car they cried. Salem was on his back. I said, "You are home now."
When we arrived home we were nervous. These were two feral cats who’d never lived in a home, as far as we knew. They came out of their crates and knew they were home. They were sleeping on our laps that night watching TV and in bed with us. Their big brother Max loves having the company. Since then, we have added another brother, Smokey.
Because of this experience, we are now aware of what problems exist with feral cats in our country and other nations, and so we do what we can to help. Salem and Almond have had surgery to correct their eyes, and both are doing well. When they were found they were tiny. Now they are both 12-pound fat little Americans.
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