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In late winter 2011, my fiance and I happened to do the grocery shopping at a completely different day and time than usual. When we were packing the groceries inside our apartment building, we could hear scared meowing. The security guard told us that another renter had stolen the AC unit out of the apartment but left behind his pets, including a cat, who had escaped outside and was hiding in the bushes. We already had one cat, the maximum allowed in our apartment building, but I scooped up the cat and took her inside. "Just for tonight, I'll take her to the shelter in the morning!" I told my fiance. We both knew it was a lie! We fell in love with her and she became a beloved member of our family. It was clear from her skittish behavior that she had been abused. It took lots of patient love and care to help her adapt to her new life, but she grew into a sweet, loving cat--who always retained a fierce strength and no-tolerance policy for nonsense, which we call "putting the paw down."

Our first cat is a bit of a daddy's girl, but Lily was all mine. Every morning, I would wake up and she would race me down the stairs for me to let her out onto our patio. We spent hours gardening, hanging out, watching the birds together. We were both cranky homebodies who liked to keep to ourselves. We ate green beans out of a can together and she helped me read books and grade papers.

Sadly, last year she developed a rare, aggressive disease and passed away at the age 5. I miss her every day. I keep "putting the paw down" in my own life, just like she taught me.

Lacey Sparks
Lexington, KY

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