He found me in a garage sale, and it was love at first sight! A tiny, cute black and white ball of fur jumped out of a bush and followed me, as I looked over the furniture and knickknacks laid on the lawn and driveway of the sale. I couldn’t help but bend down and pick him up and cuddle him to me, he purred and returned my cuddle.
“How much for your kitten?” I joked to the owners of the garage sale as they lounged on chairs on the driveway.
They laughed. “Oh, he’s an alley cat. As soon as we set up, he started hanging out with us. We have dogs, and certainly don’t want him!”
I was shocked. He seemed so tame and friendly to be an alley cat. I certainly was not in the market for a cat, and yet there was something about this little guy that just tugged at my heart. Giving into impulsiveness, I sat down on the lawn and played with the kitten for a while. Finally, I needed to go home, and carefully placed him under the bush he originally jumped out from.
Something drew me back to him! I came back a few hours later, after convincing my husband to just come meet the kitty, no pressure. When we arrived, the garage sale had closed for the day, and the kitten was nowhere to be found. I stood near that bush he had come from earlier, and checked it, he wasn’t there, and felt heartbroken. I began to cry, telling my husband how sad I was that he was gone. I knew then, that I really wanted him! He was special. As I stood there crying, out popped the little kitty from the bush I’d just looked in, and began jumping up on me! I don’t know how I had missed him, but there he was! My husband and I sat down for a good half hour playing with him on the lawn. Then we stood up to go, and I declared that if the kitty followed us home, on his own, we’d keep him. Sure enough, he did!
I named him Chocolate Drop, after a black and white kitten in a sweet book from my childhood, called “Peppermint” by Dorothy Grider circa 1950, about a candy store owner whose cat had kittens, and named each after types of candy that he sold in his store.
From the very beginning, I felt that our kitten was a gilgul, a Jewish soul sent back to earth to rectify his past. For example, he was allergic to non-kosher food. If he ate canned cat food of any kind of shellfish, catfish, or pork, he would immediately vomit! So, I purchased him only kosher meat types of cat foods. Then on Shabbos, he would come and sit quietly, patiently, on the floor next to my husband’s chair while he made kiddush. When my husband made hamotzei for challah, he would jump up, put his first two paws on my husband, and nudge him, as if asking for a piece! My husband would give one to him, and Chocolate Drop was satisfied. As he grew from a kitten into a cat, he began to join us for havdalah, displaying the most amazing behavior! When the bracha of borei meorei ha’esh was recited, Chocolate Drop jumped up near the candle, and held up his front paws as if to the candlelight! We were all absolutely amazed the first time he did that! Week after week he continued this, and soon enough, friends and neighbors came to us, to watch this interesting spiritual cat “make havdalah.” Chocolate Drop had so many neighborhood friends; he was so loved, and in turned he loved them back!
When he was only nine years old, he got very sick, and to make matters worse, the veterinarian gave him the wrong medicine and he became so gravely ill, that I needed to rush him to a specialty animal hospital an hour away, for life-saving treatment. They did the best they could, but he was damaged beyond repair. We’d always wondered what type of cat he was. He was large, and while he looked like an average alley cat, his hair grew very long, long enough that twice a year I would take him to a groomer and get him professionally cut so I could manage brushing him. We noticed in the alley, a feral Persian cat that roamed the neighborhood and I always suspected that he was father, but I could never prove it. My father, a”h, was also Persian, and I always joked that that might have been why this kitten chose me – that he may have really been the reincarnation of a distant Persian relative!
So when the vet at the special hospital told me that the only way to save Chocolate Drop’s life was a blood transfusion, which they unfortunately couldn’t do because his blood was so rare – he had the blood of a Persian cat – it seemed to make sense to me. They had contacted every animal hospital in the state, and neighboring areas– no one had the Persian cat blood type Chocolate Drop needed. It was clearly a sign that it was his time to go.
If I had any doubts about Chocolate Drop’s lineage, or his being a gilgul, it dissipated when he died on Purim – the Jewish holiday, with the story of a queen hiding her Jewish identity that took place in Persia. How fitting for a hidden Persian Jewish gilgul, that needed to come back to us as a special cat!
They say cats have nine lives, well, Chocolate Drop touched so many people’s lives in his short nine years, especially, and perhaps most importantly, mine! Whoever his soul may have really been, I’m blessed and ever so grateful that he was chosen to spend that one life, as a cat with me!