This story is about an extraordinary cat that came into our lives by way of a rescue worker helping the aged. A woman living in a trailer had 20 cats. When one gave birth to Zeus and his brothers and sisters the elderly owner attempted to feed them by lacing their food with rice. All were sick. Their mom passed away and one by one the under nourished kittens died. A social worker rescued some of the kittens, fed them and found homes where they could live out their lives. We were given a kitten named Zeus. This is his story from his perspective.
I was spirit alive with love where there was no space or time. I was sent to earth to look after my new family, a wonderful couple called Linda and Tom. I found myself in a tiny little furry body with others just like me. I was hungry all the time. There were more of us than our mother could feed. A little old lady fed us but it was never enough. I was hungry and sick and wondered what my purpose was. I had fleas and I was so weak I couldn’t climb or jump anymore. A social worker visited the trailer and took some of us away. She fed us and took us to a vet. Four of my siblings died. The vet gave me shots and told the social worker I was a Japanese Bob Tail cat and that I had cancer. My ears were red and infected with no fur, just raw skin. It hurt to walk. I felt so weak I couldn’t jump up on a chair or couch. I had blurry vision. My stomach ached and I had trouble eating. Then a miracle happened.
In the year 2000 Tom and Linda came to get me. They were friends of the lady who rescued us. I recognized them when they walked through the door. I ran as best I could to Tom who picked me up. I was so weak but happy my new family found me. Linda held me on her lap on the drive home. I had my paws on the dash board and watched cars, trucks, buses, and vans zoom past us on a freeway. Houses, buildings of all kinds, trees, parks, and the beauty of earth passed before my eyes on the trip to a magical mountain where they lived. Their home was on the backside of El Cajon Mountain. I felt safe. I felt love. I felt Life.
We left the city and drove up a two lane mountain road called Wildcat Canyon Rd. The scenery changed to chaparral, rolling hills and mountains. The road became a dirt road, dusty, lined by oak trees, bushes and sage leading to their mountain home that they called “Grandfather Mountain”. The mountain was huge. Looking south at the mountain you could see Grandfather lying on his back in full headdress, arms folded over his chest and moccasins on his feet. The energy was peaceful, ancient, and full of love from Mother Earth. I was home. On a map the mountain was called El Capitan in Lakeside, California.
My new home was built in 1934. It had a potbellied stove for heat, a sunroom used as an office, two bedrooms and a large picture window in the living room that overlooked the Barona Valley. They put me on their bed because I was so weak. I peed on it to mark my territory. I had to leave my scent in case there were any other cats around. When my new parents smelled my scent they were not happy. I didn’t know I had done anything wrong. They kicked me out of their bedroom and made me sleep in the living room in a little cat bed just for me. Both Tom and Linda picked me up and held me every day. Linda put Blue Kote on my ears daily. It is purple and used for horses and cattle. Linda bought it at a feed store. After a month the hair started to grow back on my ears. They were not raw anymore. I had black ears to match my short black tail. The Blue Kote salve cured my cancer.
The house had a kitchen door that led to a covered patio area. My parents screened it making it an outside room to sit in and watch the sunset. Summer nights were spent playing games, eating dinner and visiting friends. Spiders and bugs and sometimes a snake would get in that space. It was one of my favorite places to be.
Linda would put all scrapes or leftovers in a big dish. Raccoons, skunks, fox, coyotes, and opossums came to eat. I was always on the other side of the door looking out at the wildlife. Millie, the raccoon, and I would be face to face on each side of the screen door.
She would come after dark and I would watch her eat while she kept her babies in the oak tree behind the house. We were very curious about each other but I never got past the screen door. During the day I was allowed to be outside around the house. I used to walk up and down the dirt road. I tried to catch birds but I was all white except my ears and tail and could not hide in the bushes. They could see me coming and flew away when I was near. One day my family did not come home until after dark. I was never left out at night. I knew I was in trouble. Big cats roamed the mountain along with coyotes, wolves and foxes. I did the only thing I could do to protect myself. I ran up the oak tree the raccoons lived in. I was fierce and chased them away. Now they learned I was not a timid cat trapped behind a screen door. I was really happy when my family returned looking for me. I was allowed outside for years until I was bit by a rattle snake.
He was coiled with black diamonds on his body. I didn’t know what he was. He had beady eyes and his tongue flicked in and out. I got to close and he bit my head. His teeth went into my jaw and above my left eye. I scratched him and he let go. I ran home to Tom and sat at his feet. He didn’t know what the matter was until he saw my face start to swell. He called Linda who was at work to ask what to do. She referred him to a local lady who had an animal sanctuary. The lady told Tom to take me to a pet hospital. Two hours later we arrived at the hospital. I was in good hands. The Doctors gave me anti venom injections and stated cats and dogs usually don’t live after a snake bite. I was blessed. I had two blood transfusions and was kept for two days. They said I was a miracle cat because I lived. Everyone was so nice to me and treated me really well. My family was happy to be able to take me home. I heard them say they cashed in a $3600 Roth IRA to pay for my operation. I don’t know what that means but I was happy to be home. I lost roaming privileges and became a house cat from that day forward.
I used to sit in front of a huge picture window that looked over Barona Valley and watch the humming birds feed. Two feeders were outside the window and 20 or more humming birds would sit on the feeders and drink their food. They rotated seats like miniature helicopters all taking turns at the feeders. Some were red breasted while others were orange colored. There were a variety of birds: Broad billed, Anna’s, Black chinned, Rufus and Broad tailed humming birds. The humming birds were happiest when the flowers were watered and they could fly in and out of the water spray. When I looked out the window I could also see coveys of Quail and all sorts of birds scratching for bugs in front of the house. It was a zoo in springtime. There were Blue Jays, Blue Birds, Road Runners, Red Tail Hawks, Vultures, Falcon’s, Kites, Swallows, Woodpeckers, House Finches, Gross Beaks, Orioles, Tanagers, Thrashers, Wrens, Crows and Ravens, Common Ground Doves, Dark Eyed Juncos, Rufus Sided Towhees in addition to the humming birds.
My family had a potbellied stove in the living room that I used to sit on because it was high. One day in winter I jumped up and burned my paws. I jumped off as fast as I could because it was hot. My family was burning wood in the stove to keep the house warm. They put bandages and ointment on my paws. I was so sore. I learned I could only be on the stove in summer time.
Every once in a while a lizard or spider would get in the house. I would catch them and give them as gifts to my family. They were always happy when I used my hunting skills to keep critters out of our home.
In the middle of the night I was asleep and the next thing I knew I was thrown in the back of the car with my litter box. I smelled fear in the air and the sky was orange. I heard Tom tell Linda to take the other car and she said “No, we are sticking together”. It was 2:30 in the morning. Tom had gotten up to go to the bathroom when Linda noticed it looked like morning in the east. There was no time to pack. They grabbed important papers, Linda’s purse and briefcase, myself, and we left.
I cowered in the backseat not knowing why the car was going so fast or why the fear was so great. Then I saw the flames on both sides of the car. I hid. I was scared and did not know why my life was changed from being asleep safe in my bed to racing through flames in the middle of the night. I heard Linda call her daughter and say “We are driving through flames. I don’t know if we are going to make it.” Then the phone went dead. We reached Wildcat Canyon Road and turned onto it. The trees and houses on both sides were on fire. The car felt like a heater. Tom raced through the flames and came out ahead of the fire. He drove faster than I had ever experienced. My family drove as fast as they could down Wildcat Canyon Road. There were no other cars and the air was filled with smoke. At the bottom of the mountain there were crews of fire fighters preparing for what was coming. I heard 2400 homes were burned that night. I was left in the car while my family stayed at their daughter’s home in Santee. The next day I was fed but was not allowed out of the car. My cat box was the only thing I had that was familiar. We never went home to our house on the mountain with the picture glass window, the potbellied stove, the light blue carpeting, the sunroom, TV room, and my favorite screened patio area where all the animals were given food to eat. The house was lost in the fire, the trees reduced to stumps, the bushes all gone, the animals burned, leaving a moonscape with nothing alive left.
I spent one day in the car after the fire. My cat box was cleaned and I was fed in the car a second day. I hid under the car seat the whole time. I did not understand why I was kept in the car. Finally, I was taken to our new home. My family had a brother who was trying to rent a condo. It became our home in El Cajon. We moved into an empty two story condo with me, my cat box, and the clothes my family wore the night that changed our lives forever. I had stairs to climb and three bedrooms to explore and lots of room to run around. There was no furniture, no belongings, no food or appliances. Within two weeks my family was given furniture from the Salvation Army, Churches, and friends. I had all kinds of new thing to explore. I loved running up and down the stairs. This home was much bigger than the one we lost. After we settled in I was brought a surprise.
One night my family came home with a white kitten. They put her in one of the bedrooms. She cried and cried. I tried to comfort her by putting my paw under the door. For some reason they thought I might hurt her. When they saw I was not going to harm her they let her out. She was beautiful and I loved her immediately. She was all white with big blue eyes. She nursed on my neck all the time and I cleaned her, played with her and slept with her. They named her Hera. We played on the stairs all the time and became best friends. Hera was smart. She was part Siamese. As she got older she was grey and white. I loved having a friend to play with and I loved her big blue eyes. I was entertained by all the friends my family had. There were always visitors on weekends or after they came home from work. I received a lot of attention and was petted by everyone. I loved my family and my new friend Hera. We lived in the condo for three years.
RETURN TO THE MOUNTAIN
My family was given a new home built by Mennonites from the Midwest. They were volunteers that helped build homes for fire victims funded by the CRT organization, a group who provided the materials and contractors to build the homes. The homes were built for Senior citizens who had no insurance coverage. I heard my family talking about having insurance for 30 years but Farmers Insurance Company cancelled them in the summer of 2003 due to losses in the Arizona fires. Because my family were seniors and had no insurance that year they qualified for a new home. We were able to move into a new 630 foot home in October of 2006. It was small but cozy. Hera and I had fun finding hiding places in the closets. All the furniture from the condo was given to the Salvation Army except the few pieces that could be used in the new home. My family had to get a new small bed. Their king size bed wouldn’t fit in their new bedroom. The new home looks like a mountain home with a view facing east instead of overlooking the valley. I was so happy to see the humming birds again and to watch the wildlife out of the window. Hera grew up into a beautiful cat and we became partners. She would always hide when visitors came. I loved to be petted so I sat on people’s laps to get loved. I liked to hear the people conversations because they were always so different.
Linda got sick and went to the hospital four times one year. I was so scared when she left home. I was afraid I would never see her again. Then I had a stroke. My body didn’t work. I could only go in circles and I couldn’t see out of one eye. My family was concerned for my health. I couldn’t smell my food or eat it. I was dying. I lived twelve wonderful years and had a great partner, Hera. I was taken to the vet. They told my family there was nothing they could do and that it was recommended I be put to sleep to stop my suffering. I was given a shot and took my last breath while being held in Linda’s arms. Tom and Linda and the Doctor cried and cried.
I am here to say there is life after death. I felt so bad for my family as they mourned my passing. They signed paperwork to have my body cremated and put in the ocean. I have been with them ever since observing their lives with Hera. I am so proud of Hera. Since I have been gone she has stepped into her power. She lets others touch and pet her. She doesn’t hide anymore from company. She sleeps with them in their bed and continues to watch for spiders. One day she caught a mouse that slid under the screen door. Big mistake! Hera had it in her mouth right away. She tried to sneak past Tom but when he saw her with the mouse he made her let go. Tom put it back outside. It had a broken leg. Hera had caught her first mouse. Again I am proud of her. I see all that goes on in my home and on the mountain. Death is not confining. I can come and go as I please. I still sit by my family on the couch especially if Hera is there. I love them and will be with them until they too will die and join me in the afterlife.