I'm calling this cat Missy 1 because there was another Missy a year later, in 2005.
Once in a while, a kitten would capture Olivia's heart and she'd bring it indoors and try to keep it. Almost inevitably though, she'd be overwhelmed and take it to the shelter after a few weeks or months. I believe this happened to Missy, as I think I recall Olivia speaking of her in a number of letters to me.
Lest you think Olivia capricious, she took her caregiving responsibilities very seriously. She never dumped food on a plate; instead she would go through it carefully with her fingers, hunting for small bones left in by the manufacturer that she feared could choke a kitten. She was constantly freshening newspapers and towels in the cat shelters in her backyard, and replacing worn cardboard boxes. She feared any indoor cats would get caught in something or trapped somewhere, especially in her basement. It was because of her intensive care and worrying that caregiving wore her out. Too many times over the years she told me or wrote me that she just couldn't do it anymore... but she never stopped.
Her love of animals was a mixed blessing in that it allowed her to improve their lives and give them good starts, but it killed her to be so steadily taking the new kittens to the shelter. She tried to stay somewhat detached, but she loved them all in her way. She always told me that after so much heartbreak, she would never bring another kitten inside again, that it just hurt too much. I confess that I used to grumble to myself "If it hurts so much, why don't you get the cats neutered so you don't keep going through the same cycle?" I used to say this aloud in a much nicer way, but had learned she just couldn't seem to change her ways. She said it hurt too much to hear them cry and holler when the cats were trapped and taken off for neutering. I thought it a small price to pay to stop the cycle and prevent so many kittens from being born, but to her it was just too hard.
She would bring kittens (and their mothers) indoors if the weather were cold, or if one especially attracted her or seemed to want to come in. Still, eventually the day would come when her worry and near hysteria would get the best of her and she'd send her latest attachment off to the shelter, in hopes her having raised it would make it a good candidate for adoption.
I confess I will always wonder why she broke her own rule in 2005 and brought kitten Callie in. I will have to go back and read her letters. Something about Callie must have spoken to her, because Callie became an indoor cat, is featured in many pictures in her photograph albums, and stayed with her for years, until Olivia's death. Why this cat, and why at that time? After so many cats, and so many repetitions of "I will never bring another kitten inside" why did she do just that?
Perhaps I'll never know why Missy could not stay but Callie could. Perhaps Missy was harder to care for, demanding more or being too busy in a kittenish way, and Callie was just more laid back. Maybe she'd been gravitating toward an inside cat all along, and Missy in 2004 primed her for Callie in 2005. Or, perhaps Olivia had come to a point in her life where she could handle the hassles in exchange for the love of a young cat to keep her company in her last years.
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Jan 04, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 46320777