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Mitzi With The Broken Whiskers

She was the cat everyone loved.

Mitzi with the broken whiskers and crooked tail.

And she never met a lap she didn’t love.

Thankfully she had about 30 of them to choose from. The house cat for a low income walk up in the kind of neighborhood you don’t frequent unless you need to. The kind of building often invisible. Not really invisible, just invisible by choice.

A reminder of the hard life so many face.

Many choose not to look. Mitzi didn’t care.

Mitzi was maybe 13 when her Mom died. Her Mom was gone, but Mitzi stayed. No one really owned Mitzi. She was the Queen and wandered the halls picking and choosing which lap she would adorn for the next hour. First floor, second floor, third floor, you get the idea. Or maybe she curled up on the couch in the lobby. The door to the street right there. Yet she never left.

She knew where home was. This place with 30 laps.

Why look for anything else?

Everyone chipped in for her care. Bottles, cans, social security, money from giving blood. Whatever it was, they gave what they could. One month maybe a little less. Another month maybe a little more. It all evened out. No one kept track of who gave what. All that mattered was Mitzi.

When she developed a dental abscess there wasn’t enough time for them to rally together to raise the money for her surgery. Cats are stoic. You know they are. That’s why we love them even more. For a cat to complain, well, you darn well know things are bad. Yet Mitzi never complained. Just that someone noticed something didn’t look right and got her to the vet. They got the bad news.

That’s when they called The Pongo Fund.

We treated her to a new mouth and a clean bill of health. We loved Mitzi and we helped every chance we could. Every now and then we’d get the call for food, litter, flea meds, vet care. Whenever a little extra help was needed, we’d get the call.

And every time, what an honor it was to help.

We met Mitzi about four years ago. We knew then she wouldn’t live forever. We hoped she would but the numbers don’t lie. And we knew one day we might get the call to say she was gone.

The call.

It only happens sometimes.

When someone wants us to know that the dog or cat we loved like our own, had crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Those calls were hard to make. And just as hard to receive. Asking someone to relive those moments all over again. But they did, just so we would know. So we could say goodbye too.

We got the call for Mitzi last month. It was a voice we’d never heard before.

He said you know Mitzi, right? Yes, we said. He said I’ve got some news and wanted to let you know what happened.

We steeled ourselves for what we knew was coming. Because Mitzi was about 17 or 18 now. And we knew how the math works.

He said he’d taken Mitzi for a walk.


A walk?

When did Mitzi go on walks?

He said one day he slipped a harness on her and took her outside just to see how she did. He carried her inside his jacket and just stood in front of the building. She watched everything. So he put her down and she started walking.

Never more than a block or so, just to check on things. Anyway, those walks were a special time for her. Until this last one. There was a dumpster on the corner behind the building and that’s where she wanted to go. How did she know it was there? But that’s where she went. She sat down next to one of the wheels and meowed.

And out popped another cat.

Somehow Mitzi knew that cat was there. We’ll never know how.

That cat followed them home, back into the building. They took him in for a checkup and got a clean bill of health. He had some bumps and oowies, they suspected he’d been under that dumpster for a while. No one knows. But Mitzi did.

It had been a hard month. A few residents were sick so they weren’t able to can and bottle the way they had in the past. Not only could they not help with Mitzi’s food, but they needed help themselves. And now they had this other gentleman to feed. They called him Henry.

Could we help with more food?

Absolutely. Happily. Joyfully.

Food. Litter. Toys, A giant scratching post. And a new leash, collar and harness for Henry too.

For Mitzi. For Henry.

And for the 30 laps they both call home.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.

The Pongo Fund / Portland, Oregon