The (Official) Story of Aslan
In 2002, I lived near Buffalo NY and worked at a radio station doing the morning show. I lived on the top floor of a crochety old house, with neighbors in the bottom floor. My birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving weekend, so my parents flew me down to Baltimore for the weekend. I flew back up on Sunday, December 1st, and ended up driving home from the Buffalo airport in one of the many blizzards of the year. The drive took about three hours longer than I expected, and by the time I was close, there was two feet of snow on the ground. Trusty Norman was quite cranky, and I was no chipper Princess myself. A car ahead of me kicked a rock back, and it cracked my windsheild all the way across.
Exausted, but pushing forward, I called my friend who was babysitting for my two cats Misha and Trevor while I was away to tell him I was close. He was a cat lover as well, and both my two liked him a lot, so I knew he'd want to know if he needed to go back out into the blizzard to check on them again that night.
"Great! Glad to hear you're safe," said Al. "oh, by the way, your neighbors cat was asking to come in, but they weren't answering the door. I let her into your hallway, and put out some of your guys food and water for her."
"Okay, great. Um. Al? My neighbors don't have a cat."
"Yeah, the sweet little white one."
"Oh. Well, then there's a strange cat in your house. Um. Sorry?"
I got home, trudged through the snow, which was nearing three feet in depth by now, and stumbled up the stairs. As I rounded the bend, dark eyes glowed back at me, and a tiny, shivering cat peered out, clearly asking if I could be trusted... and quickly deciding I could. A timid squeak was uttered, and almost immediately the hall echoed with the sound of purrs... It was bittter cold, even inside the hallway (which was probably around 40 degrees F, compared to the 10 degrees outside), but I couldn't let this strange creature into my house when s/he might have deadly parasites. I refilled his food and water, and brought out a blanket and cat bed.
I woke the next morning, checked the food in the bowl in the hall, and went into work, announcing that I'd found a cat, and please call the radio station if you're missing one. No one called.
I called the pound, and told them that I didn't want to give the cat to them if he was going to end up being killed - adult cats are adopted out quite rarely - but if anyone called looking for him, they could contact me. I continued the announcements on the air. One woman did call the station and say she was missing her cat Rosie -the little sweet white girl that Al had found was actually an orange male, but an orange so pale he was almost pink.
Hoping against hope, I picked up the little cat, and nearly dropped him again in shock. This cat hadn't just wandered off before the storm. He should have been between eight and ten pounds, and was closer to three, ribs sticking out painfully through his scraggly hair. His feet, which had been declawed, were bloody and raw. He drooled massively, but offered no resistance when I checked his mouth for wounds and found none. I took him to the woman's face, and watched her face drop when she opened her door. This wasn't her Rosie.
But something had to be done.
I went to the pound and said "whoever lost him either doesn't want him back, or doesn't deserve him. What can I do to make this cat officially mine so they can't come and let this happen to him again?" They knew me from my radio show (celebrity is a good thing) and were able to bend a few rules for me. He still had to be taken into "solitary confinement" where he would be given a vet check and watched for parasites. But I could come visit him as often as I wanted - and I did. It broke my heart to take him to the pound and leave him there - it goes against every fiber of my being. But I was back every day, and he grew to know my footsteps on the stairs at the pound. I had resisted giving him a name until I knew he would be mine, but had been toying around with two, one of which was "Dickens" in honor of the season and the book A Christmas Carroll. But one of the women at the pound said "We just love that little cat of yours, he looks just like a lion," and I knew the other name would be his, the one that I thought would give this sweet, timid little thing some strength and courage, the name of the great and terrible lion from The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.
The past two years have been more difficult than I thought possible. Many, many times I've come close to giving up - giving up and going back to an office job where at least the pay was consistant, giving up on my marriage and home, just giving up. Every time - really, each and every time - I've hit that wall and said "that's it," Aslan has come to me. Within seconds of my saying "I can't do this anymore," he's been in my lap, nose in my face, chirping away at me, giving me love and, somehow, giving me strength. And I've been able to go on. The other boys usually pile on pretty soon after, but Aslan is always first, the calm little soldier whose cotton-ball looks are beyond deceiving.
He was lost, and found me on December 1, 2002. I was lost, and he found me again and again since then. Happy, happy "re-birthday" Aslan.