Sunday, March 30, 2014


I first saw Baylee through a dirty window at the villa in Qatar where our church services were held. Her yellow eyes connected with mine and I instantly knew we had a future together. When I tried to coax her toward me, she rubbed her thin white body against my leg, but was gone before I could return the affection. I thought maybe I had imagined the connection with this stray kitty, but when my friend told me that she and her family had rescued this orphan cat, and that they couldn't keep her because of her daughter's allergies, I knew I had to officially meet her.

She was all kindness and cuddles when we were introduced. Her fur felt like whispered feathers as I stroked her in my lap, and she looked at me with hesitant expectation. She soon joined our family and was "welcomed" by our menagerie of pets. We named her Baylee Boo because she was as white as a ghost and hid like one too. I spent a lot of time trying to ease her into her new life with us, but just as she was getting somewhat relaxed and settled in, off she went to the vet to get spayed. Her stay at the vet forced a case of kennel cough on her and forced me to be nursemaid. I quickly learned that our pure white angel cat was not as sweet as I had thought. She bit through my thumbnail when I tried to get her to swallow her much needed medicine. Even after another trip to the vet where I was tutored by an "expert" on how to dose this cat, it was clear that no one, not the vet, not I the self-proclaimed "Cat Whisperer", was going to tame this sad kitty.

I tried to tell myself that Baylee was damaged from a tortured past of terrible owners, breeders, or children. I tried to LOVE her into being a secure, happy pet, but nothing worked, and I mean nothing. Demons from the past seemed to haunt her and keep her from completely trusting me. I still remember the day that I realized I had failed. After working with Baylee for over a year, and constantly reassuring her that she was safe, loved, and at home, while trying to brush her, she clawed and bit me so desperately I knew that we were going to have to call a truce. She wasn't going to be the lap cat I wanted her to be. Her appearance signaled everyone who saw her that she was angelic and warm. Even her initial meeting of strangers was all sweet and friendly, but then in a schizophrenic snap, she would turn into a devil.

So I went to my corner and she went to hers. She eventually accepted a little love and cuddles from Brett early in the mornings when he would get ready for work, but even on those occasions, she would have a quick change of personality, ending the love fest as quickly as it started. Even though Baylee adjusted to life with us, her wanderlust never went away. Whenever the front door opened, she was there in a flash, ready to run for freedom. No matter how many times she left our comfortably air-conditioned villa and suffered from hunger, thirst, and heat, she would gain her strength back only to try to run again.

When we came home from Qatar in 2012, Baylee made the long trip with us and became an official American cat. She endured the long 28 hour flight and seemed to adapt well to yet another new environment. But she couldn't stay away from the door! The world outside seemed even more inviting to her with all the green grass, plentiful trees, and outdoor sounds. After being home for about a month, Baylee slipped out the front door when company came and we couldn't find her anywhere. We called for her, walking the neighborhood with sad footsteps. We put up signs with her beautiful picture and hoped someone would call. We visited the animal shelter to make sure she wasn't stuck in the corner of some smelly cage, scared to death. She wasn't there, but we left our information with those in charge and it paid off. It was about three weeks later that a neighbor called us and said that she had a white cat who was hanging out in her window well. It was Baylee. She was all skin and bones when we got her home, but she had survived three long weeks on her own AND in the middle of fireworks July. She didn't go near the door for at least a month after that little "vacation", but the door still held her captive. Last night she slipped out undetected yet again, for the last time.

Brett found Baylee this morning on our front parking strip, stiff and cold, the victim of an apparent collision with an unforgiving car. It broke my heart to watch as Brett picked her up and carried her home once more. Even though she and I had kept a wide berth over the last few years, she was family and I knew her heart. Fighting and running had saved her life time and time again, but now she was finally enjoying peace that she had never known before; the peace only heaven can bring. We will miss the playful, beautiful Baylee who reluctantly became part of our family and taught us how to love no matter what. Enjoy those extra birdies and bugs up there, Bay Bay. We will always love you.

After her July "vacation" she was thin and dirty but surprisingly grateful to be home. Her gratitude was even vocal as she ate her food.

Abbey wrote this poem today:

The white cat was her name.
She never skipped a beat
or let a hand be unplayed with.

She started with a yawn,
and ended with a silent bow
that only other creatures can understand.

Living a life of running,
May her paws be rested and well,
That she will chase and jump
At those birds that
Her sisters had scampered after.

Oh white cat,
May you swat and play with the big man's hand
And brush against angels' feet,
For you can be kind to all.

When the wind rises,
And the snowflakes fall,
May you be in our spirits,
And prance through the snow.
And you my dear white cat,
Will conquer all.


Amy said...

Oh, Dianna, what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful kitty. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm sure there is peace and healing after this life for animals too. I'm sure of it. Baylee had true "lamp-like" eyes. I'm so glad he had such a loving home!

HCB said...

My wife and I, Howard and Sue Bybee, are Public Affairs missionaries in Kinshasa, Congo. We met a young man in Nairobi airport who is a member working in Doha. He wrote to say he cannot find the Church there. Can you help? Here is an email where you can send your email so I can send you his contact information. Also our blog if you wish to see what we do.
Our blog Thank you. Elder Bybee