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Sometimes You Get What You Need...

2011.11.03
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You can't always get what you want,
But if you try sometime you'll find,
You get what you need...

Since Catnip passed away on Tuesday, my office here in the house has seemed very empty and yesterday just was intolerable and I had to get out. I wasn't really in the mood to do any camera work but out of habit grabbed my bag on my way out the door anyway. I spent some time just driving around the town and finally decided to go down a road on the outskirts of town that I had never been down. It runs along the north fork of the Shenandoah river and I knew there was a boat launch down there somewhere. Maybe I could gets some shots there.

I see the signs for the boat launch and as I pull into the dirt covered parking lot there I notice cats. Not just one or two cats, but about a dozen cats just hanging out by the entrance to the boat launch. I park in the lot and as I start walking back to see the cats more start appearing. There is an area of woods bordering the boat launch parking lot and there used to be a quarry back in there. I start to notice that up near where the entrance to the lot is there are empty cat food cans everywhere and just back into the woods are some old doghouses and other dilapidated structures.

It quickly becomes apparent to me that these are stray cats living down here by the river and someone or some ones have been feeding them and at least attempting to take care of them. A few of them I manage to coax close enough to say hello but the majority are too skittish. I hang around a little shooting some pictures and then head up to Wal Mart to get them some lunch. I picked up a case of canned cat food and headed back to my new friends.

As soon as I started opening the cans back at the river lot the cats started appearing out of the woods. I set them all down and backed away so the shy ones could eat as well. It looked like there were over 2 dozen cats living there. About halfway through the meal this old beat up white pickup truck pulls up and all the cats go running over to it. This older man gets out and we start talking about the cats. It seems he has been feeding and caring for the cats there for over 30 years. He feeds them and gets them medical attention when the need it and sometimes can place them in homes. Lately a woman from a rescue organization has been coming by and getting the cats fixed a couple at a time. My new friend tells me the population there has been as high as 47 cats by his count at one time.
He knows the local veterinarians and often gets free medical care for the cats when possible but he estimates he has spent over $150,000 over the past 30 years just in vet bills.

I can't believe I have lived here over 10 years and never even had a clue this place and these cats existed. Just goes to show you what happens when you take the road not taken.

I'm going to be going back there often to help feed and care for the cats, and I already have drawn up plans to build some new homes for them. I'm sure you'll be seeing photos of my new friends the River Cats from time to time now.

I think Catnip would have approved.

You can't always get what you want,
But if you try sometime you'll find,
You get what you need...
18 Comments
DancingDolphin WHAT A FABULOUS POST!!! I love this story, it has all the right elements including the part where someone is having them fixed. They certainly all look well cared for and I imagine they have quite a good time out there by the river. I look forward to seeing more! I think Catnip would approve also. :-)
DancingDolphin · 2011-11-03: 08:54
karmankwarner This is one of the most heart touching and heart wrenching sets I have ever seen. Your shots are precious and the story made my heart both cry and sing. So many times animals are discarded by others and this man has taken up the task (for 30 years) to share love and give comfort to those no one else noticed. I am glad that you took the road not taken and found this treasure. Things happen for a reason. Now instead of one office cat, you have a new cat colony to get to know. Wonderful set, thank you for sharing.
Sorry for your lose of Catnip, approval would have been definate.
karmankwarner · 2011-11-03: 08:57
marilynx Wow ... what a story and what a series of delightful cat portraits.
Are you absolutely certain Catnip was not directing you from her new pussy residence?
I, for one, will not miss a post!
Thank you for sharing this astonishing occurence.
marilynx · 2011-11-03: 09:11
jennyLit This is an amazing set Eric! it just goes to show everything really does happen for a reason. Losing a friend led you to others who were in need of help! it's so nice to know that people are willing to help out these poor kitties! i love that they have their own little "cat town" with all the house and things! i look forward to seeing more of your new friends!!!
jennyLit · 2011-11-03: 09:32
anovoula This story is interesting and reall moving, and your photos brilliantly illustrate it. Great!
anovoula · 2011-11-03: 10:26
Annbramwell Aaah Eric! That's lovely, a very fitting tribute to the memory of Catnip... I look forward to seeing more of this place... Good on you!
Annbramwell · 2011-11-03: 10:27
lelle Great catpictures.
lelle · 2011-11-03: 11:44
calamita Oh, my God! How many cats! They are really cute and however they are stray cats they are nice. Anyway, iI like your photos as well
calamita · 2011-11-03: 11:49
danrav This is such a beautiful story and I totally agree that there is NO SUCH THING as cooincidences in life. This is one of those times. I am certain that Catnip had a paw in this to help you ease your mourning. These shots are so great!!!! I am so looking forward to see more of this village of kitties. Great work. I am placing #5 & 15 into my faves, knowing that they entire set will be there to look at from time to time! Wow!!!!
danrav · 2011-11-03: 12:49
lookagain Lovely and touching story....what a beautiful experience for you after the loss of Catnip. Thanks for sharing....
lookagain · 2011-11-03: 13:12
MoMac Lovely story and what a great set of shots . I'm certainly sure your catnip would approve.
MoMac · 2011-11-03: 15:21
liveandletlive I am just sure Catnip would approve Eric! This is fantastic and it's just so. . .. (I'm looking for a word here). . . funny how similar things can be. Please look at photo 4 in This post. This is one of several orphan kittens/cats that lives on our waterfront. There is a lady here who feeds them and takes them to get "fixed" etc.
I'm going to sneak one home with me one of these days.
:o)
liveandletlive · 2011-11-03: 22:03
camilleauteuil moving story .... - beautiful pictures
camilleauteuil · 2011-11-04: 03:14
shygirl1164 what a moveing story great set
shygirl1164 · 2011-11-04: 03:18
nynkeb Very beautiful.. story as well as photos.. Thanks for sharing!
nynkeb · 2011-11-04: 04:44
jacekni superb series
jacekni · 2011-11-04: 07:17
Lynda What a great set. And although sad it's like Catnip has led you to help these cats. I notice that when feral cats are spayed or neutered in other countries they have a piece of their ear removed so that people can see they are being cared for. Good that some will be adopted.
Lynda · 2011-11-04: 09:16
NellyBly This is a wonderful thing you are doing! You are right, reach out and look and you will find something you need...I'm sure Catnip would be proud of you...I know I am :-) Beautiful kitties, #8 to my favs..
NellyBly · 2012-01-12: 14:07
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Tagged: rivercats
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