I hated cats. They stink, they shed, and they are just plainUseless. I wouldn’t eat at someone’s house if they had cats. IWouldn’t sit on their furniture. In fact, for 37 years, I avoidedCats and their owners.November 26, 1996, a few months after my father died, my sisterCalled and asked me to go the mall with her and her daughter. StillMourning the loss of my father, I said no. I was already in myPajamas and didn’t want to get dressed. She kept pestering me to go,And I finally relented.We got to the mall and walked past the pet store. I saw a tall cageWith several kittens. Yes, the kittens were cute, but so what? TheyStill stink! Yawn.We continued our shopping and when we were done, we wandered backTo the kittens. There was only one tiny baby left, and she was theStinkiest of them all. So greasy and sickly looking, and she didn’tEven respond to our voices or touches. We asked the store manager whyThis kitten was the only one left. He told us that no one wanted her.Well, it turns out that this tiny one-pound kitten was really 6Months old and very sickly. The pet store owner had taken careOf her and tried to nurse her back to health. He said she wouldProbably die anyway. Who wants a dying cat?All the other kittens were taken already, and only JulietteRemained. Juliette lay there, unmoving, doing nothing. Well, no oneDeserves to die alone, in a dark cage, in a mall. Not even a stinky,Smelly, sick cat.I thought back to my father’s hospital bed and how I wished weHadn’t had to “pull the plug”. Gratefully, his entire family was byHis side, so he didn’t have to die alone. And neither should thisCat. “Ok,” I thought, ” Juliette can come home with me to die. AtLeast she won’t be alone.” The manager gave me all the suppliesI needed, and the workers at the pet store cried, as I walked outThe door with the kitten.After we got home, I let Juliette out of her crate and sat down inMy chair. She came up to me, put her paws on my knees, and yelledThe loudest meow I’ d ever heard. Don’t know what that was allAbout but I sure hoped she didn’t keep up with such a racket.Ok, I could afford a vet visit the next day. The vet said, “NoShots for her; she is too sick. Don’t waste your money. She isDying. Just take her home and wait.”I waited and waited and waited some more. Funny thing is, thisCat didn’t die. And something strange happened along the way. IStarted to enjoy tending to and taking care of her. I started toLike her. I had a purpose for getting up in the morning. And then,All of a sudden, it hit me: I had fallen in love.It didn’t take long after that, before Juliette improved by leaps andBounds. Together, we both learned all about cats. We spent 16 yearsTogether teaching each other love, devotion, and loyalty. Our bondGrew so strong that we rarely needed voices to communicate. I wouldThink something, and she would do it. She would think something,And I knew what she wanted.I truly believe Juliette was my father’s last present sent to meFrom up above to teach me the life lessons he didn’t have time toFinish. Juliette pulled me out of my depression over his death.Not only did she teach me to be a cat-lover but also she taught meThat all living creatures are deserving of compassion, respect,And the right to be happy, no matter what their health is or theBackground they come from. She taught me to rescue and adopt 12More special needs kitties. But the best gift was to show me thatLove really can conquer all.Juliette and I learned how to conquer illness and diseaseTogether. She taught me that even cats can have devastating strokesWith paralysis and still overcome them with hard work and love.She taught me how to begin letting go. She bravely gave me one moreYear to learn how to go on without her. The day I set her free wasHeartbreaking. But I knew her lessons for me were over and I hadPassed with flying colors. She was the best teacher I ever had!Juliette taught me that ALL creatures deserve love. It’s so strange,How much I detested animals before she came along and taught me theRight way to live. I am so the opposite now. Because of her I live,Eat, sleep, and breathe animal welfare. It is all I do 24/7!And I know, as much as I wanted Juliette to reincarnate back to meAgain, she had more important duties with some other animal-haterThat she needs to reform. But our souls are entwined for eternity,And I WILL see her again. She is off on another mission rightNow. More former cat haters out there that need to be enlightened.But she did send me a little bit of herself in a new cat I callMary Anastasia. She looks and acts so much like Juliette that IKnow Juliette touched Mary Anastasia before she came to me.

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