BETTE: From Homeless to Abducted to Harassed to Happily Ever After
Bette’s tale truly belongs under the category “Truth is stranger than fiction”. You could not make this story up. Bette was the beloved cat of Bob, my semi-significant other, who you have met in my previous blogs. She became his first pet as an adult, defying his edict that he was not going to have any animal companions in his new house. I guess the poor guy was up against odds that were just too great to overcome.
Bette’s story begins before my association with Planned Pethood but I have rescue in my blood and it was a solo effort for a long time. My sister, Sue, called to tell me that some deadbeats in her neighborhood moved and had abandoned their cat. She was homeless and starving and Sue had a cat aggressive dog who only accepted the kitties already in his pack. So it was time to do a bit of scheming. After golf league and a few adult beverages, I relayed to Bob the plight of Bette and how terribly upset I was about it. He relented and allowed that she could come and stay for a week until we found her a home. When we arrived with the cat in her carrier, we took him by surprise. He didn’t really recall agreeing to permit his new roommate to bunk up there as a temp. He even commented, “I don’t think this would hold up in court”.
After several weeks of Bette’s presence, Bob accepted the inevitable. He now had a cat and both he and Miss Bett were very content with the situation. She filled out (way out at one point) and was quite a pretty dark tortie who was very friendly and laid back. Things went along in that vein and it looked like a happily ever after ending until Bette got out one night and disappeared. Bob was in a panic. She had tags with her name and phone number. We searched, we called, we rang doorbells, we did it all. I even got up on the roof to look for her and I am terrified of heights. It was to no avail. But then, a few weeks later, again after golf league, Bob got an ominous call demanding a ransom for his cat. Some slimy people demanded he come and get his cat or they would “get rid of her for good”. Ultimately, a woman drove the cat back to Bob’s house and gave her back in exchange for the few dollars he had left in his wallet after his night out with the boys. And, again, it looked like happily ever after for Bette and Bob.
Then one of my students called to tell me about a woman in her neighborhood whose cat had kittens. The woman would only let the cat, not the kittens, in the house. The kid pleaded, “Ms. Szewczak, those kittens will die this winter”. So, the next thing you know, we had a litter of kittens in a laundry basket in my classroom for the day. We were able to find responsible, amazing adult homes for them all but one. I figured by this point, Bette and Bob would like an additional roommate. I am a huge believer in adopting 2 of everything so they have a companion of their own kind. It worked on the Ark, right? So I took Joan over to what I thought would be her forever home. First, Bob protested about the name. He said, I am a 40-something single male with two cats named Bette and Joan. What will people think? After much cajoling and reassurance, he relented. But it never really worked out. You can take the girl out of the ‘hood but you can’t take the ‘hood out of the girl. She pestered both poor Bette and Bob almost to death so off she went. FYI, Joan is now 13, healthy and happy and residing with me and my pack.
Bette and Bob stuck together through thick and thin. She had a wonderful life after those serious false starts. She became ill when she was about 12 or 13 and was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Bob had a piece of his heart cut out the day he had to have her put down. They had been inseparable for so many years. He could not face the idea of replacing her so he decided to foster instead. Long story short, he failed miserably at fostering. He adopted both of his fosters, Brittney and Alice. Coincidentally, that is the very reason we lose many wonderful fosters. Thank heaven for rescues like Planned Pethood who are there to pitch in and help cats like Bette who find themselves on the street through no fault of their own. Love to our major players in this drama: Sue, Bob, and of course Bette.
By Judy Szewczak