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We were living on 50 acres of remote jungle property in Costa Rica, and already had one cat, Luz. My husband at the time had reluctantly agreed to her, because she helped control rodents in the house (which keeps the snakes away). A mile away, our closest neighbors, ex-pats from Massachusetts, had a small grey cat who kept coming around -- strange, because we really were in the middle of nowhere. It was the rainy season, which in this part of the world means torrential downpours and the poor little guy was desperate for a dry place to stay, but while they were huge dog-lovers, one of them absolutely hated cats, so there was no way that one was staying. I wanted to take him in, but my ex kept saying one cat was enough.

One day we were coming back from town and met them on the road as they were heading in. They had the cat in a carrier in the back of their truck. "Last chance to take it," they told us, and I just knew we had to. There he was, huddled in the cat carrier all skin and bones and plaintive meows, and even my ex's heart melted. We took him home and named him Shadow, and he quickly became my best friend. He slept in my arms every night and followed me and my son everywhere. We'd go for walks every afternoon along the dirt road that ran past our house and he would follow us until he got tired so we'd have to carry him if we wanted to go any further.

We ended up moving back to Minnesota after a few years, and Shadow's love and snuggling helped me get through a divorce and parent my son through high school. Unfortunately, he developed cancer on his shoulder, which after two operations continued to spread, so we had to have him put down right before my son went off to college. This is a cat I will miss forever, one of the ones who came to teach us all about pure love.

Ann Betz
Celebration, FL

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