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Late this past spring two kittens, a large orange tabby male and a middle-aged grey and white tabby female were abandoned down the street. Downtown Fredericskburg, Virginia is a dumping ground for unwanted pets, especially when the semesters end at the local college. Almost all of our seven cats have come to us this way. The two kittens found new families within a week thanks to another neighbor, and the male followed a patron from the corner bar home about a month later. Only the grey and white female was left, and she stayed close to the safety of the porches of the frame homes lining the street on either side of the bar. My wife and I feed a black male stray who lives in and around the law office in a former gas station on the corner. His name is Charlie and he's feline HIV positive and a bit of a loner, so we leave him where he is. In July Charlie had a nasty infection on his cheek, so we made an appointment for him. When I went to get him he was no where to be found, but I heard a plaintive mewing coming out from one of the porches. Soon the grey and white tabby came out crying and dragging her right front leg. It was ripped open from paw to elbow. It didn't look good. I had the appointment, so I scooped her up and took her to the vet. I thought she'd probably have to be put down, but the vet said nothing was broken. My wife named her Annie for the street, and I took her to my studio to convalesce. She's now, six months later, spry, playful and a loving lap cat despite the loss of the use of her front right leg.

Michael Fay

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