LOLA

Lola on August 19, 2020, the day I found her.

In 2020, as the world was being ravaged by COVID-19, Turkey was under strict lockdown. Gyms, restaurants, schools, and shopping malls were closed; and I was teaching all my lessons from home via Zoom. Prior to this, I was rarely home, choosing instead to go to the gym, dance classes, music classes, Turkish classes, and day trips to Istanbul. The sudden change in my routine was a big shock. To fill the void, I signed up for as many online trainings as possible: teacher trainings, dance lessons, university courses and even Danish lessons. I created a home gym for myself and practiced with workout videos. Being alone and inside my apartment day in and day out was torturous, so I broke the monotony by going for walks around my apartment complex.

I live in Kent Konut One, which translated, means city housing. It is a gated community of nine high rise apartment blocks. The only way in and out is guarded by security 24 hours a day. The blocks are surrounded by a series of gardens, seating areas and playgrounds and the whole complex is built on a very steep hill. To get from one building to the next requires walking up or down a very steep grade — it is great exercise.

Homeless cats and dogs are everywhere in Turkey and Kent Konut has its own feline community. These cats are well taken care of by kindhearted residents who feed them every day and have even made shelters to protect them against freezing weather. As the summer of 2020 passed, I got to know many of the cats in the complex and I would bring cat food with me on my walks, stopping to pet and feed any that I encountered.

In August school was back in session and I was spending my days at home teaching online. One evening I went out for my daily walk around the complex. As I started walking up the first hill, a small white cat with a black tail ran in front of me meowing loudly. She scrambled up a tree to my shoulder level and meowed even louder staring at me with desperate eyes. I was quite taken aback. She was very thin and dirty, but I could tell that she was not a typical street cat. She had huge golden eyes and though her fur was very thin, I could tell she would grow up to be a marvelously fluffy creature.

Up until that point, even though I loved cats, I had absolutely no intention of having one. I was nowhere near ready for that level of commitment. However, seeing that she was in a terrible state, I picked her up and carried her to my eighth-floor apartment where I gave her some food. She was so emaciated that I could feel all her bones. She ate voraciously and then I put her back outside, hoping that someone else would take the responsibility of helping her. But that night sleep evaded me as I stayed awake thinking about her.

First thing in the morning I went downstairs and saw her sitting in exactly the same spot I had left her. It was as if she had been patiently waiting for me all night. I ran back upstairs and brought her more food and then went back to begin my teaching day. After my lessons were over, I went down to check on her. As I walked out the front door and warily peeked around the corner, she was still there, she hadn’t moved. My heart was torn, this cat was obviously in need of help and her mother was nowhere to be found. It seemed as though she had chosen me to heed her cries for help.

I called my cat loving co-worker Neslihan and asked her what I should do. She said firmly that it is our duty to humanity to help animals in need. She added that I should take the kitten and she would help me bring her to the vet and find a home. I couldn’t argue with that, so I took the kitten upstairs to my apartment and this time she stayed.

The next day, we took her to the vet and I found out that she was extremely sick with a fever and parasites. The vet treated her with instructions to return in two days. In the meantime, we put the word out via Instagram and WhatsApp that she needed a home.

During the follow-up visit, she was very scared, and the veterinary assistant was really struggling with her. As I saw this, I suddenly felt overcome by a powerful sense of protection. Something deep in my heart moved and it was at that very moment I realized that she was going to be my cat.

Her name is Lola and as she grew up so did her huge personality. She has magnificent, thick, soft fur, like angora, and it sticks to everything. Extremely active, she loves to play fetch and I wake up most mornings with toys all over my bed. She is happiest sitting on my shoulder as I walk around the apartment singing songs to her. Her favorite hobby is breaking my dishes which she does with great abandon when she feels that I am not paying her enough attention.

Lola is truly the most intelligent, regal, and expressive cat I have ever encountered.

Take a chance, open your heart, and save a life. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.

If you want to see more of Lola’s adventures, please follow Lola and her little brother Leo on Instagram @lolakedi

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Kirsten Maclellan

Kirsten Maclellan

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