The first cat I ever encountered was Monina.
She was a Persian Calico mix with a golden stripe on her nose and green eyes—she was my first love and unexpectedly, she impacted the direction of my life.
I met her when I was seven years-old. My mom’s friend could no longer keep the full-grown Persian, so we agreed to take her. The wild creature fascinated me. She was extra fluffy and walked around the room with a sense of confidence that intrigued me.
Growing up, my family moved quite frequently. Monina was the constant in my life and naturally became my friend and confidant. My love for cats began with her and continued long after. My life since has rarely not included one or two feline friends.
As an adult, I began to understand cats not only to be cute and cuddly but also complicated and emotional beings. I cherished their wildness and independence and felt saddened by the circumstances they faced at the hands of humans.
Each cat that has entered my life has been adopted from a shelter, rescue organization and more often than not, directly from the streets.
The first time I rescued a cat, I was about ten years-old and had been out riding my bike at a park near my home. Suddenly, I noticed a small group of boys near the playground throwing something orange and yellow back and forth. I walked my bike down to get a closer look and was horrified to see them terrorizing a rather small tabby.
I dropped my bike on the grass and rushed over to where they stood. I was easily able to catch the cat in mid-air since they were not expecting my interference. The tiny animal looked stunned and trembled in my hands. I felt relieved to see her still breathing.
After that incident, I realized that not all people are kind to animals. Still, I could not comprehend why those boys had been so cruel to the small kitten. I was glad to have been there at the right time to rescue her and it was in that moment that I knew I’d discovered a purpose in life.
Throughout the years, I’ve continued to rescue cats on my own, with friends or through networks of organizations. I’ve participated with groups that trap and release feral cats and other organizations that focus on rescuing animals from shelters when their time runs out.
These organizations are often regional groups. They rarely have facilities and instead rely on foster placements to house the cats while actively seeking homes for them.
Personally, I avoid fostering furry beasts because I have a difficult time giving them up. My commitment for any cat that finds its way to my heart and home is for life. Therefore, I never have more cats that I can support.
It has been a lifelong journey to remain an active advocate for animals with a bias for cats. Creating awareness of issues like overpopulation makes a difference in the lives of the animals and the people who wish to help. I have found most people receptive to hear how they can help or where they can turn for help.
We all share space on the planet with animals, and it’s up to us to make sure all beings are respected.
How you can help:
Author: Camerina Schwartz
Apprentice Editor: Danica Taylor / Editor: Caitlin Oriel