It was the start of the pandemic, right before we went into complete lockdown. We closed on our new home and moved in. We were happy to be in a much larger house where our four boys all had their own rooms and their own space and enjoyed making this house our home.
One summer day, as we were working on the yard and cleaning our garage, a big tuxedo tom walked up our driveway and laid down under my car, content to watch us work. My boys decided to bring out some cat food for him and get him to play. He wasn’t shy at all, came out from under my car, and happily ate and loved the attention. He stayed for a while enjoying the company and then walked away as we were finishing up our work.
From then on, we saw him daily. He would come over from the neighbor’s shaded yard and spend a few minutes with us and then go back. He was so friendly and happily accepted belly rubs and catnip treats. My boys enjoyed spending time with him outside.
Fast forward to October and Matt, (short for door mat where he always waited for us) began meowing at our front door at 7:00 in the morning and 7:00 at night for breakfast and dinner. We were happy to feed him but knew that he couldn’t come inside because we already had four of our own. He would try to push through the door, but I didn’t want him coming inside and spraying on our new furniture or fighting with our cats.
My 13-year-old would, however, sneak him in sometimes and keep him in his room for a few hours. But at the end of the day, Matt always begged to be let outside and go back to his stray cat ways.
As it got colder, we set up two bins outside with blankets. Let me say, a South Texas winter isn’t what most of the US is used to. It doesn’t snow here, and we rarely go below 50 degrees on our coldest days. The bins we provided for him were more than enough to keep him comfortable. And most days he slept on top of them instead of inside them.
By mid-December, my sons were begging more and more for Matt to come inside. We were all truly in love with this sweet boy that it hurt to see him waiting at the front door everyday. But again, he wasn’t fixed and I didn’t want him fighting with our cats.
I promised my boys I would call around and see if we could get Matt neutered. I soon found out that every clinic was backed up due to the pandemic and most were not accepting new patients. I called every vet in our town and the next and was getting nowhere.
One morning, I saw a post on Facebook from a local rescue group that provided assistance for TNR. This group would cross animals into Mexico, get them fixed and vaccinated, and return them to their colonies. I quickly sent them a message, and they happily set a date for Matt’s appointment for the end of January. I promised the boys that he could recuperate inside my son’s room and that we’d start to introduce him to the rest of the pack and pray they’d get along.
Surgery went smoothly, and we brought Matt home to heal. He still wanted to come and go as he pleased, but his trips outside were short unless someone was outside with him.
But at the beginning of February, Texas experienced a historic freeze that left much of the state without power for a week. There was no way we were letting him back outside, and it seemed he finally realized inside was home. He’s been one of the best cats I’ve ever had. He is more lovable and playful than any of his four older kitty siblings. He shows us everyday with his nose boops and head butts just how grateful he is we saved him. But the truth is, in the middle of this awful pandemic, he saved us.
Story submitted by Sandra L from Brownsville, Texas.