We were on our way back home after a two-day business meeting in another state. We still had about 200 miles to go when we decided to stop at a Wendy’s off I-75 and break for dinner. I was tired and hungry and sat facing away from the windows when one of my coworkers pointed past my shoulder and said “Look!” I turned and my heart sank. A thin cat was slinking along the ledge of a window, rubbing against the concrete dividers, and begging for food. I sighed and looked away, telling myself that she was likely a stray, probably feral, and I should ignore her because I was 200 miles from home and I already have three cats.
And I keep telling my husband that we cannot have any more cats. Even in the best possible environment, they grow old, they get sick, they die. We’ve had to put down four cats in the 20+ years we’ve lived here. Luisa is almost twenty years old, and I dread the day when she’ll start to fail and we’ll have to make “the decision” yet again. Junior and Maxine are not so old, but I can’t imagine life without them.
So I turned away, but this cat continued to walk along all three windowed sides of the fast food place, catching my attention. Finally, I bought a hamburger and my coworker gave me a tray to put it on. I went outside and couldn’t find her. I circled the place twice and was ready to give up. The three of us consulted and I put the tray of cooked meat down around some bushes. We moved toward our van when a car started and the thin, now obviously young, cat came shooting out from under it. She followed me to the tray, rubbing against my legs as we went.
I was able to pick her up. She let me pet her. She wasn’t feral, not at all. She was a young cat, perhaps younger than one year old, and all I could think was that she was lost. I don’t remember what I said next, but whatever it was, it prompted my coworkers to suddenly start brainstorming about how we could get her to my home.
One coworker brought the van around to where the cat was eating; the other went into Wendy’s and got a bunch of paper napkins to line the recycle bin that we had used to transport documents. There was a department store in the next lot, so we drove there and they insisted on looking for a pet taxi. Aside from our luggage, we didn’t have a closed container to put her in, and it was too dangerous to let her roam loose in the van.
While my coworkers were in the store, I called my husband, just to warn him. I’m bringing home a cat. My coworkers are enablers. They want me to call her Wendy.
They came back with a pan of cat litter, a large fleece blanket, a bag of kitty treats, a bottle of water, and a double-bowl dish. As soon as the van started again, she made for the floor. I tried to get her to settle in the recycle bin but she would have none of it. Finally, I loosely wrapped the blanket around her and pulled her to my lap. She laid there, purring, sleeping and stretching for three-and-a-half hours.
So we have a new cat. Her name is Wendy (although my husband likes to call her Wendyz). She had been spayed (yea!) but she had not been chipped. Well, she wasn’t then, but she is now. To her original caretakers: I am sorry you lost your cat. I don’t know of any way to find you since she was found at a fast-food restaurant off a major interstate and she didn’t have a chip. Your loss is our gain. She is beautiful and she is sweet and she is safe and we will do everything to give her a long, happy life.
I know The Association’s song is “Windy” but it still kept popping into my head on that long drive home.
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.