Lottery Winners with Winter-Cold Noses
By Bev Betkowski
One of the reasons I love Edmonton is for its pet lovers. As the human plaything of 3 cats myself, my heart warms when I see a news story about a rescued scrap of fur, and how the offers of a forever home pour in over the next few days. Anyone who has rescued a stray from Edmonton’s streets knows what love and some overpriced cat food can do.
Nowhere is this more evident than in my adopted tribe of friends in the Edmonton Cat Fanciers Club. As members, we all bring our rag-tag collection of household pets to the twice-yearly shows held downtown. And the judges adore them all. Despite frost-bitten ears, old war wounds, sagging waistlines or advanced age (the cats, that is), rosettes are handed out for the love that is so obviously lavished on these one-time orphans, or as my husband calls them, lottery winners.
But what really puts the catnip on the cake for our group is the parade of smiling Edmontonians who amble through the show hall, pushing strollers or wheelchairs and carrying cellphones bearing photos, eager to share the tales of their own four-legged kids. I grin in delight when someone asks me what special breed my cat is, and I reply “Edmonton Alley Cat!” Their faces light up and they know that they’ve got something special at home, too.
I watch them slow for a careful look at the 20 or so adoptable strays reclining in pink decorated cages in a double row set aside for the Hervey Foundation for Cats, the club’s pet charity. I can almost read their minds: “Do we have room for one more?”; “Our cat died and we want a new one”; or “Our ferret needs a little buddy”…yes, it has happened. And these good people never fail to bring tears to my eyes—at the end of every show, almost every single cat has found a home.
I would give a winner’s ribbon to every one of these generous folks, if I could. As it is, I have to resist the urge to thump them on the back and congratulate them like they’ve won, well, the lottery.
For 2 wonderful weekends a year, Edmontonians reaffirm my faith in humanity, by bringing themselves to the shows, displaying their compassion for those furrier and weaker than themselves, and celebrating their places in Alberta as cat people. We may have winter-cold noses, but we have warm hearts.