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Where Every Cat Matters and Every Cat has a Story
Friends of Felines Rescue Center, Defiance, OH 43512

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In Loving Memory

The story of Sabrina T. Cat III by Rita Murphy

Time really does fly.  Way back in 1997 my mom had lost her beloved Kitten after 20 wonderful  years.  Why a cat that lived to be 20 was still named Kitten is a story for another time.  Anyway after a few months, I convinced her it was time for another cat.  So on her birthday we went to a local rescue shelter.  This shelter was an old store front that donated their space to the shelter.  My mom and I would watch the cats through the window and she was fond of a little black one.  So we made an appointment to meet her.

This cat didn’t really seem interested in us, so my mom said “let’s sit down and see who picks us out”.  As soon as we sat down another black kitten came running to my mom, crawled up her leg and landed on her shoulder.  After much face licking we knew we had been chosen.  The woman at the shelter was reluctant to let us adopt this kitty.  Her name was Sabrina.  She was about 9 months old and had been terribly abused as a small kitten.  After recovering from her injuries, was adopted out and returned a few days later because she wouldn’t come out from under the bed.  The woman didn’t want to see Sabrina adopted to another family without being very sure.  And the fact that I lived with my mom and had my own cat was not a plus in our favor.  The woman thought Sabrina would do best in a one cat home. But she was amazed that Sabrina was, literally all over my mom.  She had never behaved that way before so she let us adopt her on one condition, we would never let her out.  That was an easy one.

We took Sabrina to the vet after a few days to get her checked out and used the same vet the shelter used as she was also our family vet.  Neither of us were fond of the name Sabrina (remember our last cat was named Kitten!) but didn’t have the heart to change it because that was her name.  The vet let us in on a little Shelter secret.  All the black cats in the shelter from the Spring were named Sabrina!  Ours was Sabrina three.  They actually called her by number.  We felt so bad that she was just a number so I asked the Vet receptionist to change the name on the certificate for her to Sabrina T. Cat III.  My mom and I thought that was a more dignified name.

When Sabrina met my cat, they immediately became best friends.  There was no hissing, just a lot of licking.  They would sleep together and play together and just had a special friendship.  Sabrina loved my mom, would sleep with her and always run to the front door when she came home.

I moved out of state a few months later and left my cat with my mom and Sabrina.  I would come home and visit about once a month and each visit, Sabrina made it clear I was visiting HER home.  If I got up from the couch, she would run and sit on my seat so when I came back I would have to move to the other side.  At night she would run past me on the stairs, climb in my bed and not let me on my side.  She would give me the “paw” if I tried to move her.  She clearly wanted to be in a one person home and I was person two!

When Sabrina was 8, she developed a mouth infection and had to have most of her teeth removed.  Her remaining teeth fell out over the next few years.  The Vet thought her jaw may have permanent damage from her violent beating as a young kitten.  Surgery probably wouldn’t help and other than having few teeth she seemed fine.  My mom would just chop everything up for her very finely.

My sweet cat, Murph passed away  in 2005 at the age of 21.  Mom said Sabrina would walk around the house and howl for the first few weeks afterwards.  She would go to Murph’s bed and just lay on the floor outside of it and go to sleep. 

One night my mom, who was diabetic was woken up by Sabrina slapping her face.  Sabrina just sat on her chest and howled.  This scared my mom so she got up but felt very dizzy.  She took her blood sugar and it was so low she was close to a “coma” stage.  She drank some juice immediately and then her sugar was better.  If she had not woken up, she may not have ever woken up.  Sabrina became our family hero.

In 2007 I moved back to Massachusetts to be closer to my mom as she was getting older and needed a little help with things.  Each weekend I would go and take her shopping and Sabrina would give me the “evil eye” as I was taking her mom away from her for the day.  My mom would always laugh because it was clear Sabrina was not fond of me.  Late in 2007 my mom took a fall outside and was in the hospital.  I went to see her each day and then went to feed Sabrina at her house.  But after a week my mom had to go to a rehab for a month so we decided it was best if Sabrina come and stay with me.  The night I went to get her was not very fun for either of us.  I chased her all around the house, up the stairs down the stairs.  She saw the carrier and just knew nothing good was coming from this.  Finally when I got her and shoved her in, I was so out of breath I remember saying “if I die right here, you are so out of luck Sabrina!”  When carrying her down the stairs outside I missed the second step and fell to the ground with the carrier landing on top of me.  From the carrier I could see Sabrina looking at me, I swear she was smiling.

Our first few weeks were a challenge.  She found safe haven in the bathroom behind the washer and dryer.  This was the only place I couldn’t get behind and she knew it.  So I just left food and water for her and each day when I went to work the food was eaten, the water drank and the litter box used so I knew she was ok.  Then I noticed things of mine started appearing in the litter box like my socks and a shoe.  My favorite white towel, the one that just was the softest most luxurious towel I ever owned somehow made its way from the bathroom to the litter box in the hallway.  Sabrina was making a very strong statement on her take on things.

One night after visiting my mom at rehab I was just very sad.  My mom was depressed thinking she was never going home and things just got to me.  I sat on the couch and started to cry.  Then I saw her, Sabrina was behind me on the couch, she reached over and licked my face.  From that point on I became her “person”.  She had finally chosen me.

When my mom was finally able to leave rehab she came to live with me for a few months to get her strength back.  Sabrina immediately ran to her when she first came in the apartment.  She sat with her and purred for hours.  But at bedtime, she climbed in with me.  I think she knew things were different.

Mom did get to finally go home but we both decided that it was best if Sabrina stay with me as Mom was having some difficulties and needed home nursing.  It was a heartbreaking decision for my mom but she said she wanted what was best for Sabrina and because she saw firsthand how happy she was living with me she knew that was best.  Whenever my mom would visit Sabrina would always come and run and give her a big kiss.

Sometimes because we see our cats every day we don’t always notice things at first.  I knew Sabrina was slowing down and seemed to not eat as much as normal, but nothing too alarming.  But then the water bowl seemed to empty much quicker and the food dish had more remaining than normal.  And then one day I just looked at her and thought “something just isn’t right”.

I know I should be able to remember every word the Vet said, but once the word tumor came from her mouth my mind kinda stopped processing.  “Take her home and tomorrow we’ll know more.  I’ll call you”.

When I heard her voice on the phone it seemed pleasant, I exhaled, this was going to be a good call.  Her voice just seemed so darn pleasant.  But then two words were uttered, I’m sure they were with other words but the only two words I remember are Cancer and Inoperable. 

Here’s the thing when you are asked to make a decision there really is only one choice to, you just have to listen to your heart and it will tell you the right thing to do.  The vet was very understanding and gave probably the best advice.  “Take her home, spend the next few days with her and you will know what to do and when to do it.”  And so I did and Sabrina and I “talked”, me with my words and her with her eyes.

They let me pet her and the Dr. and technician were very efficient, going about their jobs.  I just scratched Sabrina under the chin as that was her favorite.  She seemed to ignore the goings on around her, she just kept looking at me while purring as I quietly whispered “good girl.  I love you.”  Then she just very slowly closed her eyes.  No more purring, she was now at peace.

There were forms to fill out and bills to tend to and everyone was so very nice to me.  Details were taken care of and I just signed each form not really reading any of them.  But then the last form I handed back and asked, “could you please correct this, it just says Sabrina, it needs to say Sabrina T. Cat III.”