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Saving Kuba

Laura Beil

Tri-City Tales, Issue No. 20

The man was clearly distraught the morning he arrived at Tri-City Animal Shelter with his cat, whom he had named Kuba. She was a Maine Coon mix, blackish brown and white with a bushy, majestic tail. She was 16 years old. He kept reaching into the carrier to soothe her. 

They had grown old together. The years had left her with a stiff gait, muscle weakness from an old injury. Retired from the U.S. Army, her owner was moving to assisted living provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He could not take Kuba with him to his new home.

 As he left her at the shelter, he acknowledged that finding her a home would be a challenge, given her age. He feared the worst for his longtime companion, and struggled for words as he said a final goodbye. 

That day, shelter assistant manager Laura Welsh texted Kuba’s picture to someone she knew at Saving Hope, a rescue organization in Fort Worth. Saving Hope has accepted more than 70 animals from Tri-City, usually cases that need more individual attention than the shelter staff can provide. But Saving Hope is also stretched to capacity, and can’t take in as many homeless animals as they would like. That means difficult choices, several times a day, every day.

“I called her back and said what’s the story,” says Kate Scott, who is the director of Saving Hope’s cat program. “She said, ‘This cat is 16 years old. A veteran turned her in, and it was really hard. He cried. We cried. I can’t fail this cat.’ ”

Scott didn’t hesitate. Saving Hope picked Kuba up the next day, and she is now in a foster home. She’s been taken to a veterinarian to see if she needed medicine to be more comfortable. She’s available for adoption, but Scott says her new home would need to be quiet, and prepared to tend to geriatric cat who may soon decline. Despite all her changes, Scott says, Kuba remains sweet, cuddly, and trusting of the people around her.

Tri-City staff left a message at the veteran’s assisted living facility, assuring her former owner that Kuba will be comfortable for the rest of her life. If the right new home can’t be found, Saving Hope is prepared to let Kuba stay indefinitely. The best way they can honor the man’s service to his country, Scott says, is to love his cat as much as he did.

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