Paw Prints on My Heart

She looked at me. Helplessly. Pleadingly.

I was driving down the highway on the way to my folks’ farm when I saw a furry lump in the middle of the road. And just before I zoomed past, she looked at me. Those eyes haunted me. I had to go back.

Of course, I had two young children (ages 3 and 4) and three dogs. So I drove on to my parents’ house to drop off the dogs and get my mother’s help. My mom is a huge animal advocate, so she didn’t hesitate when I told her the situation. She grabbed her cat carrier and off we went.

The traffic was very heavy as it was about five in the evening. Huge eighteen wheelers sped along the two lane highway. The cat was still lying there. And still alive. I thought we’d never be able to cross the one lane to get to her. But suddenly, the traffic disappeared. My mom, such a hero, didn’t hesitate. She raced to the middle of the highway and scooped up the little cat. Carefully we placed her in the cat carrier and drove her to town to the vet.

We named her Hershey, because she had dark chocolate-brown fur with white spots. She sort of looked like a S’more with chocolate and marshmallow all mixed together. One chocolate spot was at her mouth and looked like she’d been eating chocolate. We couldn’t keep her because I’m allergic to cats, as is my husband, so we left her at the vet’s, so they could better care for her concussion and badly injured front leg. After a few days, without any success in finding her a loving home, we had to bring her home to my parents’ house. Her injured leg had a serious infection. She wasn’t eating well. And we discovered she was pregnant as she gave birth to one kitten at the vet’s. But the kitten didn’t survive. The vet said the kitten was born 10 days early, which usually means they can’t survive.

Of course as soon as we brought her to my mom’s house and settled her in the laundry room–ta-da–she delivered two more kittens. One of which, I had to actually deliver. Oh boy! What a night that was! So began our journey of trying to save these little kittens. We had to feed them every hour, even through the night. One, sadly, didn’t survive. But one did. We named her Miracle.

Eventually, Momma cat had surgery to remove her injured leg, and she came to live with us. Yes, even though we were allergic. And amazingly, we weren’t allergic to Miracle. Hershey’s milk came in 8 weeks after delivery, after Miracle had been weaned and was eating solid foods.

Most of the first year, Hershey stayed under my dining room table. Each night, when I would finally sit down, she would come to me and sit in my lap. She was the sweetest cat. She had the loudest purr. She helped me teach my children that every life is precious and worth fighting for. For five years, Hershey had a safe place to live. She passed away too soon, and I was heartbroken to lose her.

It’s been several years now since we lost Hershey. Over Christmas, I made a memory shadow box for her. I got the idea from my niece who made us memory boxes for our two sweet dogs when they passed away.

You can get a shadow frame at most craft stores. I used the fancy paper most use for photo albums. No cutting required. It’s a lovely way to remember our sweet pets that have placed their paw print on our hearts.

Have you had a pet to leave their paw print on your heart? Have you created a memorial of some kind to honor them?

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