“When a woman inspected a stray cat a little closer, what she saw made her scream in horror. Not only did the sight make her blood boil, but it ended up changing the direction of her life.
Olivia Garcia was an art student, though she was already in her 40s. She had just started her second year as an undergraduate student at California College of Arts in San Francisco. A couple of years earlier, Olivia had left her corporate job in Silicon Valley, trading her laptop for paint and brushes.
She had always been at the top of her class and pushed toward a high-paying career. But what she had been dreaming of her entire life was to make the world a more colorful place. She just didn’t know that this color would turn into a fiery rage.
It all started on a Thursday morning when she was sitting at her desk in front of a vast bay window that overlooked a sunny street. Her assignment this week was to pick one object of study and transform it into a striking abstract painting. Abstract art wasn’t usually her forte, but she was resolved to give it her best shot. Little did she know that this is what would lead her to the most heartbreaking thing she’d ever seen.
The day had started well, and Olivia was already feeling inspired. She started staring at the deep blue sky and letting her mind wander. But nothing too interesting was coming to her. Instead of nothingness, she turned her attention to the humming and buzzing energy of the city down below.
The street was very busy this morning; the neighborhood was getting ready for the annual fair, and every shopkeeper was animated in all sorts of preparations. The mixture of street traffic, foot traffic, and the shops made for a fuzzy day. It was difficult to capture how hectic the scene was, although it would have made for a very energetic and vivid painting.
Olivia was lost in her imagination when her eyes caught something that stood out from the hectic street. Isolated in a small corner was a small orange dot. It was very still, and she almost mistook it for a statue.
But as her eyes focused, Olivia clearly saw the dot was a ginger cat. She was instantly intrigued by the way this cat was sitting peacefully under the window of an apartment. Its fur was a fiery orange, and so she decided in her mind to call it Ginger. This was her inspiration for the painting assignment; she’d be creating a whole abstract rendering of this beautiful ginger cat sitting in the middle of a busy Californian street.
The student grabbed her favorite brush and started working on a canvas, keeping a close eye on the little cat who kept totally immobile. But after a few minutes, Olivia looked closer, and what she saw made her scream with horror. What she’d assumed was a collar was actually something entirely different. Around the cat’s neck was a roll of duct tape, tugging at its neck. It was unbelievable. All that time while Olivia thought the cat was sitting, it was actually coiling in despair, probably in need of help.
She grabbed her phone and called animal rescue before rushing outside to make sure nothing else happened to little Ginger. When she got closer to the cat, she interrogated the shopkeepers who were working around, but no one had noticed him before. Ginger looked distraught.
Although he was hiding in plain sight, he would drag himself a few meters away from Olivia every time she tried to make contact with him. All that she needed to do was to keep an eye on Ginger until animal rescue arrived, but she could feel in her heart that this rescue wasn’t going to be easy.
Ginger was easily scared whenever humans were trying to touch him, and it took a long time for the rescuers to catch him. They first tried to set up some kind of trap with food to attract Ginger into a carrier. The feline was smart, though, and wasn’t fooled so easily. Despite the clear risk of frightening the cat even more, the animal rescue crew made the difficult decision to catch him with a net. It was the only solution.
Ginger didn’t have much strength left, but he struggled enough to give the rescuers and Olivia a run for their money. The feline tried to outrun the rescuers for a little while, but he was too weak to even climb a tree. Within half an hour, Ginger had been settled in a cat carrier. For some reason, Olivia felt the urge to accompany him. After much pleading, the animal rescuers allowed her to accompany Ginger to his examination back at the shelter.
With the on-call veterinarian, Chile, at first glance, Shelly noticed that the cat had been treated badly. Ginger’s spine was protruding under his skin, a known sign of malnutrition. The roll of duct tape stuck around his neck only confirmed that his previous owners were not good people. Olivia was angrier with each new piece of information.
The vet knew she would have to inject Ginger with sedatives to remove the roll without causing any injury. Ginger didn’t appreciate the jab and resisted falling asleep as much as he could, but eventually, he went into a deep slumber, and Shelly started to work on the duct tape. She first tried to slide it through Ginger’s head with the assistance of Olivia, pulling gently on the roll. They soon realized that the cat’s head was too big; the roll must have been placed around his neck when he was a much younger and smaller kitten.
Olivia felt a shiver down her spine thinking about what kind of monster could do something like this to a poor little kitten. Shelly couldn’t figure out what to do to remove this annoying duct tape roll and asked for a minute to think about a solution. Scissors would be too weak,
and shears would probably be too blunt. However, maybe together they could make a sharp knife work. Olivia went out of the examination room and looked into the janitor’s closet, where she was sure to find a toolbox. The duct tape roll was cut in no time.
Underneath, Ginger’s neck had barely any fur, and his skin had all sorts of sores and rashes. This poor kitten had had a very rough life until then, to say the least. His recovery was going to take a while. Olivia begged Chile to stay on Ginger’s side until he would wake up. The veterinarian didn’t take too much convincing, and her heart was warm to see that someone was finally caring for this little cat.
Because Ginger’s health was concerning, the shelter decided to keep him in observation for a few days, and Olivia announced she would be visiting him every day. To everyone’s relief, Ginger was recovering well, and his mood was improving as well. Day after day, he grew closer to Olivia, eating out of her hand but not yet letting her pet him.
As much as Ginger was grateful for having been saved, the trust would take time to build. Ginger ended up spending a full month in the animal shelter to fully recover; his wounds needed professional care. And everyone agreed he shouldn’t be released before gaining a significant amount of weight.
To Shelly and the rest of the team at the shelter, it soon became obvious that Ginger’s custody should be handed over to Olivia. Her love and care had worked their miracle to make Ginger healthier and more social. All that he ever needed was for someone to treat him with respect, and in Olivia, he found a faithful and dedicated friend to support him on the long path of recovery and healing.
Throughout this long process, Olivia kept her promise and visited the cat every day. She would bring treats and toys but also paint and brushes. She would spend time playing with Ginger, talking to him, and sitting at a little desk in the corner of a room to paint. All this time, she had kept working on her assignment to create an abstract and flamboyant painting.
And what would be more flamboyant than a brave orange cat? Her work was a big splash of orange, yellow, and red all over the canvas, with circles and spirals. It was an impressive work of art inspired by Ginger’s resilience. Olivia had turned his dramatic story into a beautiful painting. The heated brush strokes expressed her anger at what had happened, but they melted into lines representing Ginger’s strength against adversity.
She finished it the day the finally healthy cat was released to move in with her. Of all the days they had gone through together, that was the one Olivia wanted to remember forever. What a sweet story! What would you have done if you had spotted a street animal in the same conditions as Ginger?
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