Sam's niece got the second cat into a carrier and knocked on my door. Judging by the noises and the way the cage shook whenever one of my cats walked by, I was convinced that this was no cat - a wolverine, maybe.
We kept it in the cage for a few days, donning oven mitts to throw in food and water before the monster could escape and maybe kill us all.
On the third day, we unlocked the cage before going to bed. Maybe in the dark, it would venture out. But it found a spot inside a chair and fiercely attacked whenever I tried to coax it out. The Persian was also a handful, toothless and blind. That meant carrying her to the litter box.
One Sunday, my husband and I awoke early for our family Christmas party. I went downstairs to wake the Persian up to eat. I found her in her usual spot. She must have passed during the night. I truly believe she died of a broken heart. And I cried.
I cried for this poor cat whose quiet life was turned upside down. Who couldn't see but knew it wasn't her home, and I wasn't her dear owner. I cried for the other cat. The only thing still familiar in his life was now gone, and he was all alone.
As I was complaining about these problem cats, they were slowly creeping into my heart. From that day on, I spent my free time gaining the trust of the one we now call Jumbo. He is still learning to get along with the other animals, but every night when I go upstairs, he is waiting on my bed.
If I don't pay attention to him, he reaches out and touches my face with his paw and stares into my eyes as if to say, "Thanks for not giving up on me." It was a crazy five months, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Joan Gallagher, Cape May Court House, N.J.