Dear Paws4Pets: I wanted to tell you a story about the cat who adopted us. In 1930, my brother and I lived with our parents on the fourth floor of a tenement building in the Lower East Side of New York City. We had a fire escape outside the bedroom window of our four-room apartment. In the summer, Mama opened the windows wide to let the fresh air in.
It was on one of these hot summer days that a pussycat brazenly came in through the open window. It looked starved, and my brother and I begged our parents to let it stay. They agreed. We fed “Cat” bread and milk, and later, scraps from our table. Every evening when my father came home from work, Cat would take a flying leap and land on his shoulder. My father loved the greeting.
After awhile though, Cat started leaving through the window again and coming back a few hours later. She also seemed to get fatter and fatter, until we realized she was pregnant. Cat delivered four babies on towels my mother laid out on the bathroom floor. My mother gave three of the kittens to neighbors and we kept the fourth, an all-white male we named “Whitey.”
Whitey stayed with us through the winter, but by the next spring he got as restless as his mother and started leaving through the fire escape window. One day he went out and never came back again.
- Pearl M., Morse Township, NJ
Dear Pearl: Things were so different for pets and their owners back then. Pet food was an unheard-of extravagance, and veterinary care was not so common for housepets. Thank you for sharing!
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