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My Final Message- originally posted 10-31-2013

My Disciples,

If you are reading this, I have departed. Let us first just acknowledge the weight of that. Our journey together was not nearly as long as I hoped it would be, but please know that it has been an honor to have met so many wonderful people, furred and non-furred, and to have shared the trials and triumphs of My life with you.

Otis Honored

It has been an honor.

I know that during My long convalescence many of you were hoping and praying for a miracle to happen that would save My life, and it may seem like that miracle didn’t happen. But I need you to understand something. That miracle did happen. It did happen, and it did save My life, but it happened at the beginning, not the end.

Otis in the wilderness

The miracle happened at the beginning, not the end.

The miracle that saved My life happened seven years ago when two humans looked out into their yard and saw a desperate, starving kitten looking back at them.  They didn’t know who I was or where I had come from. They didn’t know what potential lay within Me, or the cat that I could become. They only knew that I needed their help. The miracle happened when they made the choice to rescue Me.

Otis's miracle

This was the miracle.

Had the Guardians not made that one, simple choice, I might have slipped into The Shadows forever. I would not have experienced seven blissful years filled with love and happiness in their care. I would never have met The Brothers, or Thomas, or Mama Cat. You would not know Me, or even know that I ever existed. There would be no Cult of Otis because there would be no Otis. In My darkest hour I needed a miracle and I got it, and the life I lived afterward was better than I could have ever imagined.

Otis living the good life

I loved my life.

As all lives must, My life has come to an end. I know that, due to My young age, My end may seem tragically premature, but a life should be judged by its quality, not its length. I had a rich, full life, and all of you helped make it even more so. For that you have My everlasting gratitude.

Otis thanks

Thank you all for enriching My life.

But now I must finally say it, My Disciples, the hardest word of all.

Goodbye.

Although My spirit has departed, a part of Me will remain. When you look out into the world without walls and see a cat in need looking back at you, I will be there by your side. You will feel My soft breath on your cheek and My purrs of encouragement in your ear. Listen closely, and through the purrs you will hear My final commandment come to you in a whisper.

Be the miracle.

So Sayeth Otis

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What Is Taking So Long?

People and fur People who are Disciples of The Leader Otis,

It’s Thomas.

As I told you, I made a request of the Brothers a week or two ago, but they still have not fulfilled it. I do not understand what is taking them so long!

Impatient Thomas 1

It has been almost two weeks! What is taking them so long!

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Olive Has Been Swept Up!

People and fur people who are Disciples of The Leader Otis,

It’s Thomas.

Earlier this week, the Guardians put out the same tricksy trap in which they captured me and they successfully swept Olive up in The Capture! He was a little afraid at first because he did not realize that his life had just changed for the better.

Olive in trap

Olive was a little scared in the tricksy trap, but he calmed down enough that he ate his food while he was in there.

The Guardians took Olive to a nearby Bad Place that is a drop off point for the local animal shelter. There he was scanned for a microchip, but none was found. Olive was very tolerant of the the poking, prodding, and handling at the bad place so the good people there were confident that he would find a good home. Oh, and the shelter he was being sent to does not have time or space limitations for adoptable kitties, so he will be in excellent hands.

So another kitty has been taken out of The Shadows and brought into the light of The Promised Land. Now, we are all hoping that Abe will start to come back regularly again so he can soon follow in Olive’s footsteps. The Guardians will do all in their power to ensure that he does.

In Otis’s Name,

Thomas Out

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Assisting Abe

People and fur people who are Disciples of The Leader Otis,

It’s Thomas. Another kitty in need has found his way to the doorstep of The Cult of Otis, and the Guardians are answering his call for help. He is a gray kitty with definite tabby undertones, and the Guardians call him Abe.

Abe

Abe has asked for help, and the Guardians are answering him.

On the first day they fed him, Abe could not get enough to eat. He powered through two full cans of food before calming down. The Guardians don’t know yet if he is lost or abandoned, but he is definitely not receiving regular food and care from anyone else at the moment. He is shy, but does not appear to be feral, and the Guardians are confident they will be able to gain his trust.

I hope Abe does decide to trust them because the poor guy is struggling out there. And I know what that’s like. I’ve been there. Although the Guardians eventually had to live-trap me to sweep me up in The Capture, I have to admit life’s been pretty sweet since then.

Thomas being scratched

Abe, I hope you will try to trust the Guardians. I had difficulty doing that myself, but look at me now!

So please keep your paws and fingers crossed, and send some purrs Abe’s way. The Brothers and I will be giving him all the moral support we can from our side of the window. Hopefully we can all ensure that Abe has a very happy New Year.

In Otis’s Name,

Thomas Out

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Theo’s Journey Continues

My Disciples,

The Guardians continue to work with Theo to bring him out of the shadows and into the light. It’s slow going, as it was with Me, but they are seeing some progress. He no longer runs at the sight of them. He still keeps a wary eye on them, but you can see that the seed of trust is beginning to take hold. He even returns “kitty kissy eyes” to them now and then.

Theo portrait

Theo is showing signs that he may be starting to trust the Guardians.

It is heartbreaking to watch Theo struggle. His is the story of millions of cats that have been abandoned to the shadows. His life of stress and despair is evident in his overly lanky body and the scabs of recent fights and the scars of fights past pepper his face and ears.

Theo's ears

Scars and scabs testify to Theo’s struggles in the world without walls.

I looked out the door last night and was surprised to find Theo looking in at Me. He had jumped up on a chair that Mama Cat usually sits on, and he peeked around the Toastinator that Mama lays under. I hoped this was a sign of curiosity, a sign that he was curious what awaited him on the inside.

Theo on chair

Theo peeked into the house. Was he curious about what awaits him inside?

I hope to report someday that Theo has been swept up in The Capture and his time in the shadows have come to an end. Until that day, the Guardians’ work with him continues under My watchful eye.

So Sayeth Otis

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Shining A Light On Theo

Disciples of The Leader Otis,

Brother Henry here. A few days ago, Brother Oliver introduced you to Bessie, a new Limbo kitty that recently appeared in our neighborhood. Well, I’m sad to say that we also have a new Shadow kitty in our midst. Shadow cats are feral, stray or abandoned kitties. These cats have either been separated from, or abandoned by, their human guardians, or they never had them to begin with. Both Leader Otis and Thomas were Shadow cats right before they were swept up in The Capture by the Guardians.

The Shadow cat that has appeared in our neighborhood is an orange tabby that the Guardians have named Theo. He has been showing up daily to accept food that the Guardians leave out for him.

Theo face

Theo has been eating the food that the Guardians leave out for him.

There are several reasons the Guardians believe Theo to be a Shadow cat rather than a Limbo kitty. First of all, he is terrified of his own shadow right now. This is probably because he is starving and in complete survival mode. One look at his midsection tells me that he hasn’t been having regular meals in recent days.

Theo flank

Theo is so skinny. The poor kitty has not been eating regular meals in a while.

Another thing that leads the Guardians to believe that Theo is a Shadow cat is that he still has… well… he has… ummmm… just take a look at this photo of him scratching and you should be able to see them for yourself.

Theo scratching

Do you see them? No? Ummm… look at the base of his tail.

While it’s unfortunately true that some guardians still don’t neuter their cats, it’s also been the Guardians of Otis’s experience that balls and abandonment often seem to go together. Maybe it is an indication of the overall lack of care given to the cat or something. I’m not sure.

The one good thing I have noticed is that as the Guardians take care of Theo’s basic need for food, he seems to be letting his guard down a little bit. He has started to make eye contact with them rather than immediately running away, and I even looked out the window and saw him rolling around in some catnip after a meal.

Theo rolling

As Theo’s hunger is getting under control, he’s started to show signs of playfulness.

I remember the Guardians going through this same kind of process with Leader Otis and countless other Shadow cats. It took more than 5 months to convince Leader Otis that he really should trust them. I hope it takes much less time with Theo. For now though, Theo continues to live in the shadows. From what I can tell, he sleeps in a hole underneath the house next door. I wonder if the neighbors even know he is down there.

Theo going into shadows

Theo literally lives in the shadows… in a hole under the house next door.

Shadow cats like Theo are everywhere, but they often go completely unnoticed. I think I might know at least part of the reason why. In all of my research to counter the threat of the Long-feared Dog Uprising, I have learned something interesting. Apparently most cities have laws against allowing dogs to roam free and unsupervised. So when a dog shows up in someone’s backyard, it is immediately assumed that the dog is lost and in need of help. Obviously though, we cats are treated differently.

For some reason many humans find it acceptable for cats to be less protected than their canine counterparts. So when these people become kitty guardians, they simply open the door and let the kitties wander. Cats like Theo, that are truly in need of help, end up just blending in with the overwhelming number of indoor/outdoor kitties out there. Most people who see kitties like him will just assume he’s a neighbor’s cat, and then go on with their day.

So if you need another reason to keep your cats safely confined, consider kitties like Theo. If all kitties with guardians were safely confined, then we could easily identify those kitties who have been lost, abandoned, or are otherwise living in the shadows. Once identified, we could work together to bring those kitties to the light.

So Says Brother Henry (with some input and encouragement from Leader Otis),

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A Photo Session With Thomas

My Disciples,

Brother Oliver managed to sneak his camera into Kitty Valhalla while the Guardians were trying to coax forth the True Spirit of Thomas. He is still a very timid kitty, and likely will continue to be for a long time, but with the help of a new mouse toy the Guardians have been able to help him come out of his shell now and then. Take a look. I think Brother Oliver’s photos speak for themselves.

Thomas Playing 1

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Thomas Has Doubts

My Disciples,

For the past 24 hours I have been very busy acting as a feline liaison between the Guardians and Thomas. He has calmed down quite a bit, but he is still gripped by fear whenever the Guardians enter his space in Kitty Valhalla. He has taken to hiding in the corner behind the tunnel, but this morning I was able to help one of the Guardians engage him in play. I started by telling him that that the Guardian meant him no harm. He just peeked out from behind the tunnel and said, “I doubt it!”

Doubting Thomas 1

I told Thomas that the Guardian meant him no harm. He doubted that.

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A Deadly Sin Has Been Committed, A Commandment Broken

My Disciples,

I apologize for My absence, and for My unbecoming behavior with the chickened bananas. I fell into a well of despair and turned to the wrong place for comfort. I know Brother Oliver believed that his mockery had driven Me to the banana, but that was not the case. My sorrow was the result of My witnessing the commitment of one of the Nine Deadly Sins, and the flagrant violation of My First Commandment.

I suspected something was amiss more than a week ago. The guardians of Domino and Thomas had not been seen for some time, and both Dom and Thomas were spending even more time in our yard than usual. Plus, they were always very eager for a meal. Then, one morning, a nice car pulled into the drive at Domino and Thomas’s house. A well-dressed stranger got out and began calling for Domino. One of the Guardians was outside heading to his car at the time. Domino looked at the Guardian, meowed and then ran over to the well-dressed stranger. The man opened the door on his car, Domino jumped in and then the man got in and drove off. The Guardian watched them go, looking both puzzled and concerned.

Domino and Thomas

Domino and Thomas’s guardians were not seen for some time. Dom and Thomas started coming around more and were hungry. Then, someone came and took Dom away.

Later that day, I heard the Guardians discussing what had been seen that morning. They were very concerned because, although Domino clearly knew and trusted the person that had taken him away, Thomas was left behind. Several more days passed, during which there was no sign of activity at the neighbor’s house. The Guardians were making sure that Thomas did not go hungry during that time, but they were very worried about his well being. Thomas was still going back to his house at night, but the Guardians suspected there was no one for him to go home to. They finally went next door, opened the back gate and discovered something appalling. The backyard of the house was full of garbage and discarded housewares. Thomas had clearly been discarded right along with these other items. In fact, he was living in the garbage pile!

Where Thomas Was Discarded

This is where Thomas was discarded. He was treated with no more consideration than these bags of garbage. That cat tree is where he slept. There is no excuse for this.

The realization of Thomas’s abandonment was too much for me. That is why I turned to the chickened bananas for solace. But I should have known better than to despair. The Guardians fully embrace the commandments of Otis, and they went into action the moment they grasped Thomas’s plight. I wandered around the house for several days recovering from My banana bender, so I didn’t even realize what was going on, but when I had mostly recovered, I heard a familiar voice coming from Kitty Valhalla. I went upstairs to investigate and discovered that the Guardians had installed a new door. On the other side of the door, a face was looking out at Me. It was Thomas!

Otis and Thomas, Valhalla

When I came out of My banana induced stupor, Thomas was in Kitty Valhalla!

The Guardians had swept Thomas up in The Capture and brought him into The Promised Land! He was terribly confused, and very frightened, but he was warm and safe inside. I did My best to calm him down, but he just kept repeating, “Leader Otis, they left me! Why did they leave me? What did I do to make them leave me? Why did they throw me in the garbage?” Nothing I said could soothe his troubled mind, so I decided to just spend some time close by so he wouldn’t feel so alone. I also let him know that I too was discarded in the past, but everything changed once I was swept up in The Capture. I told him that no matter how scary things are right now, life would only get better from here on out.

Otis and Thomas, Valhalla 2

I wasn’t able to soothe Thomas’s troubled mind so I just laid down close by to keep him company. I was just happy he was finally safe.

As I know from My own experience of transitioning from the world without walls into the safety of The Promised Land, Thomas still has a long road ahead of him. The first 24 hours were very sketchy as his fear nearly overwhelmed him, but he is now calm enough that he is eating and he is using his litter box like a pro. I will do My best to help him with his transition and I am excited to find out what role he will take on as the newest member of My inner circle. Most of all, I can’t wait to discover his True Spirit. Wish us luck, My Disciples, and purr for Thomas to let go of his fear and embrace his new life in The Promised Land.

So Sayeth Otis

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Saving Jack

My Disciples,

Two weeks ago the Guardians of Otis noticed an unfamiliar cat in the neighborhood.  They saw him regularly for several days, and they noted that he appeared to be confused and frightened.  Even more concerning was the fact that he seemed skinny and unkempt, as if he had been going hungry for some time.  He did not seem to know where he belonged, and he had appeared shortly after some neighbors a few houses down had moved out.  The Guardians began to suspect that this poor kitty had been abandoned.  Once it was clear that he needed their help, the Guardians set about earning the kitty’s trust.  They began by giving him a name.  He would be called Jack.

A Guardian of Otis has one hand patting Jack's head and a spoonful of food in the other.

The Guardians named the abandoned kitty Jack, and they began to earn his trust with food.

Jack was nervous to approach the Guardians, but he was so hungry that he could not resist the smell of the food that was offered to him.  In order to get close enough to make contact, the Guardians first offered Jack spoonfuls of food.  Once the initial contact was made and Jack’s scent was on the Guardian’s hand, trust quickly followed.

Soon Jack was eating from a bowl while one of the Guardians gently stroked his fur.  The Brothers and I supervised the entire process of earning Jack’s trust as we watched from a chair placed by the screen door.  I was periodically overcome with emotion and had to look away.  Seeing Jack go through the feelings of fear and loss and finding new hope with the attention of the Guardians reminded Me of My own difficult past.

The Brothers watch Jack eating from a bowl through a screen door.  Otis looks away.

The Brothers and I supervised the Guardians as they earned Jack's trust. I had to look away periodically because the experience reminded Me of My time in the wilderness.

Jack remained flighty for several days, but soon was visiting our back porch three times a day for meals.  As his hunger subsided, so did his fear, and soon he asked for attention from the Guardians just as much as he asked for food.  During one of his meals, Brother Oliver told Jack that he would soon go through what would seem like a very scary transition, but that a new life was waiting for him on the other side.  He also said that he, Leader Otis and Brother Henry were all purring for him.  Jack looked up from his meal and thanked Brother Oliver for the kind words.  He then continued to fill his belly under the reassuring supervision of a Guardian of Otis.

Jack looking up from his food bowl toward Oliver in the window.

Brother Oliver told Jack that a transition was coming. Jack thanked Brother Oliver for his kindness.

After a week of regular meals and kind attention from the Guardians, Jack seemed like a new cat.  He was much less skittish, more playful and much more trusting.  His True Spirit had begun to emerge.  He seemed to feel joy for the first time since the Guardians had met him.

Jack, looking happy.

After a week of regular meals and attention, Jack's True Spirit began to emerge.

The emergence of Jack’s True Spirit signaled that the time was right for him to be swept up in The Capture and enter The Promised Land.  The Guardians called Jack to them and placed him in a kitty carrier with a full bowl of food.

Jack standing in front of a cat carrier.

Here is Jack right before he was swept up in The Capture.

Jack was nervous after the carrier door was closed, but he responded very well to the soothing words spoken to him by the Guardians.  They transported Jack to the local animal shelter and the staff there scanned him for an ID microchip.  He had none.  The Guardians told Me that Jack will be held for several days just in case he is a lost kitty whose guardians are looking for him.  If no one comes to find him, he will be placed up for adoption and it will only be a matter of time before he finds his forever home.  For now, he is warm, safe, well-fed and receiving regular attention from people who truly care about his welfare.

I know there are countless other kitties out there that are just like Jack.  They are alone, hungry and afraid.  They are waiting for someone to reach out to them and help them find their way to a better place.  Please, My Disciples, watch for these kitties.  And if you see them, be that person they are waiting for.  They need your help, and if you don’t give it to them, who will?

So Sayeth Otis

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