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My Shadow and Me

Updated on June 17, 2013

Shadow the Cat

My first foster child was a troubled 15 year old named "Alisa." Alisa smoked cigarettes but did not abuse drugs or alcohol. Her favorite food was chocolate ice cream and she adored the Spice Girls. Alisa also missed her cat from her previous home. I promised her that if things went well for one month, I would let her get a kitten. After one month, Alisa qualified for the promised kitten. At a kitten rescue site, she selected a tiny pewter gray kitten with perfectly matched pewter gray eyes. Alisa named her new kitten "Shadow." Soon after Shadow the kitten joined our household, another teenage girl joined our family. Unfortunately, Alisa and the other teenage girl were unable to live in harmony. Alisa acted out with dangerous behavior and was moved to a different facility. I took over the care of Shadow the cat.

I moved Shadow's litter box, food and water out of Alisa's room and into my room. The tiny animal protested when I picked her up. A visceral urge compelled me to manipulate and examine her miniature body. I gently rubbed every little muscle and limb. Her mouth was wide open showing her tiny pink tongue and throat as she threw out kitten wails of protest. All four of her little paws clutched my hand as I rubbed the white fur on her tummy. She was like a human baby, crying in protest as I tended to her. When my urge was satisfied, I kissed her little kitten nose and head while I held her against my chest. Soon, I put her in my room and shut the door. She stayed in my room until I was confident she could get herself safely away from our dog.

Shadow learned to outrun the dog quickly. She chose to hide in my closet most of the time. If she left the closet, it was done covertly. One would catch a fleeting glimpse of her looking out the window or spot the points of her ears as she peeked around a corner. Once she was spotted, she would dash away. Most visitors didn't know that Shadow lived with us. Occasionally, a guest would exclaim: "I didn't know you owned a cat!" The ears poking out from behind a corner would vanish immediately.

As darkness fell upon my household and people went to bed, I retired to my room with a glass of wine and a book. Shadow appeared from the shadows. She slunk so quietly, the dog on the bed didn't stir, and Shadow laid against me. Each morning, when I woke, she was gone.

Shadow moved to three different homes with me. Each time, I set her up in my closet when we would arrive at our new home. The last move was a cross- country move; at every nightly stop, I would go to the car, hold her close, put my lips to her head and feel better knowing my Shadow was still with me. Not long ago, she stopped coming to my bed, peeking around corners, and being shadowy. I wrapped her in her favorite blanket and took her to the vet. I gently pressed her head against my chest and rested my lips on top of her head while the vet put a needle in her leg. Shadow quietly slipped away.


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    • Contrary Mary profile image

      Contrary Mary 7 years ago from Wake Forest, NC

      I wept when I read this. It brought back some lovely, bittersweet memories of saying goodbye to my first pet child when she was 16. I parented her as I would have done with a human child. I don't know any other way -- I inherited it from dog-loving Dad.

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      Rosalie 7 years ago

      This is a really good one! It's very descriptive and catches attention! People can identify with this about losing pets especially those which are our shadows...

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      MaryRenee 7 years ago

      Anne, that was such a touching story. I was really caught in it. Your a great writer! I recently lost my Toy Fox Terrier, it's amazing how much we go through with our animals, and how they impact our lives. Thank you for sharing :)