If you’re anything like me, one of the best parts about going to the mall is people watching. These concrete goliaths are visited by thousands people each day. All going about their busy lives and barely noticing each other while rushing around. Some have a purpose in mind when entering the masses of shoppers. Others–like myself–use the chaos as an escape to breathe just for a moment, while it swirls all around you. It’s easy to blend into the background in all the hustle and bustle. We wallflowers notice the little moments in between the merry-go-round of life. And recently, for those who witnessed the following events, it was in a most unexpected, and literal, way!
For the patrons at a local mall in Tampa, Florida last month who may have been people watching, they got to witness an exciting event unfold before them.
It began at the Westfield Citrus Park mall.
Well actually, it began in the parking lot of the mall to be honest. We at the Cole and Marmalade family have worked closely with mall management on a few past–and upcoming–projects! We’ve happily been able to co-host adoption events through St. Francis Society Animal Rescue at the Big Cat Rescue Virtual Reality Zoo within the mall. And of course, have met many amazing animal loving people in the process.
So when a young stray kitten was seen in the parking lot, Mall Manager Andrea Boitnott knew exactly who to contact. There is a colony of feral cats on the property but this kitten was new and had no ear tip. She messaged Cat Man Chris Poole, a.k.a. Cole and Marmalade’s human servant who spends each day helping stray and feral cats.
The little ginger cutie had been spotted roaming the grounds, but no one had been able to get near it. Armed with his traps, stinky good cat food and the gusto of a Black Friday shopper lining up on Thanksgiving, he headed out to catch the kitten.
And for two days he came home empty handed.
I went for two nights and looked everywhere but only ever saw the other resident community cats.
But Andrea and the mall personnel weren’t about to give up on the elusive kitten.
She even made posters to put up around mall to see if anyone had seen it! Even with the thousands of eyes on the lookout though, the kitten had disappeared.
That is, until one day when it showed up again–this time IN the mall! And wouldn’t you know it, the feline had gravitated towards the food court. They believe that the small kitten snuck into the mall unseen during a rainstorm, likely through the service delivery doors.
This food court has something a bit special though. Centered just next to it, sits a hand painted carousel with more than 30 animals, chariots and spinning teacups. This day however, it gained another animal–a frightened kitten who’d chosen to hide underneath the massive machine.
Andrea quickly called Chris to let him know the kitten had been spotted. He rushed to the mall and together they discussed how to best rescue the cat safely. The ride had been shut down immediately upon seeing the kitten run into it’s dark depths. No one wanted the scared baby to be hurt trying to escape.
Again, Chris tried to entice the feline with fish to no avail. The kitten actually went FURTHER up into the base of the ride. Sadly, they had to stop their rescue efforts after searching every nook and cranny. They carefully made sure the kitten was no where near any moving parts and had to start the ride again. (I’m so curious as to what the on-lookers thought of the shenanigans circling the ride that day!)
So they made plans for Chris to return to the mall after hours when crowds of people wouldn’t interfere with their important life-saving attempts.
But then, a miracle occurred. Yes, like a “getting that big screen TV on Black Friday” type of miracle.
During the shift change in the evening, the new worker saw the kitten and managed to catch it!
The young ginger kitten turned out to be about 3-months-old and was a female which is also very rare. But really, she did run into the mall so chances were it wasn’t a male….just kidding!
They settled on the name Merry for the kitten in a nod to her brief time under the Merry-Go-Round.
And less then 2 months later, Merry was off on another adventure; this time a more permanent ride!
It was at one of the St. Francis adoption events at a local Petco, where Merry caused a loving couples heads to spin.
After meeting the now loving and brave ginger girl, they couldn’t get her off their minds. So they took a couple of days to discuss whether she would be a good fit for their personal circus. By that I mean the other 6 cats they had already in their family!
But they had recently lost their ginger feline and were mulling over the idea of honoring their peach hued pussycat by welcoming another into the family. After going round-and-round, they gladly accepted that she was just the right fit.
Merry joined their family on September 17th, 2019 and we couldn’t be happier for them all!
On day one of rescue she was purring and making biscuits, and now follows her humans from room to room.
REMEMBER: SPAY/NEUTER, FOSTER, VOLUNTEER, TNR & AS ALWAYS, ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!