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Memories of a truly rescued cat return in visit to Tenth Life

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 6, 2013 - A recent trip to Tenth Life brought my childhood back.

Mr. Stubbs found his way into our home as a sort of impromptu replacement for our recently (dearly) departed cat, Midnight. Stubbs had been found hiding in a neighbor’s garage, half-starved, humpbacked and showing obvious signs of abuse, including a missing tail.

My usually pragmatic mother decided to give the large, gaunt tabby a chance and brought him home - much to the disappointment of a 10-year-old girl who had been hoping for a kitten. She gradually nursed him back to physical health (and an alarming weight of 21 lbs as my mom expressed her love for him through food) but Stubbs remained skittish.

He hid most of the time – especially from my aggressive cuddling and desire to see him play like a kitten. Finally, mom had to explain to me that Stubbs had had a hard life and that he had every reason to be afraid; because there were people out there who had not just withheld love from him, but who had made the conscious decision to hurt him.

So, I started to give Stubbs his space.

Instead of chasing him from room to room, I’d stand at the back door, watching his deformed frame grazing quietly in the back yard. I learned to treat him gently and to be calm in his presence so as not to alarm him. He began to occasionally sit in my lap or let me scratch his head.

Mr. Stubbs didn’t have much time left when he came to live with us but in exchange for a few years of peace, he taught me compassion and patience. All of these Stubbs memories came flooding back when I recently attended an Open House for the Tenth Life Cat Rescue storefront.

Tenth Life is a 100 percent volunteer run, not-for-profit organization that focuses on cats with special needs.  Whether they have an illness, disability or have suffered from abuse, Tenth Life gives these felines a safe place to rehabilitate while they wait for a forever home.

Once a network of foster homes, Tenth Life recently opened a store front on Cherokee Street as a temporary facility until it can afford and complete renovation of a larger building on Jefferson. Not only is it a comfortable place for the cats to live, but it gives those looking to adopt a chance to visit and be educated in what it means to own and care for a cat with temporary or permanent special needs.

Tenth Life also acts as a support system even after adoption with a feline behavior helpline. This service aims to not only make life easier for both cat and adoptive family, but also to prevent cat owners from giving up when their pet is less than angelic or displays mystifying behavior. Tenth Life is always out and busy in the community with its cats, spreading awareness and educating the public at events all over the city – from the Tower Grove Farmers Market to Kirkwood’s Party on the Plaza.

On May 15 (7-9 p.m.), it will be partnering with Left Bank Books, 225 N. Euclid, to present an evening with Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell” and author of the new book "Cat Daddy."

For more information on volunteering, donating, adopting or upcoming events,  visit:  www.tenthlifecats.org/tenth-life-news/upcoming-events/28

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