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A True Story
Cats, Karma & Angels
How I Became the Caretaker of 15 Furry Felines {Cats}
by Jerry Gifford
Karma-the principle of cause and effect which states that an action is always accompanied by its consequences
Story Synopsis:     1979: Escaped Kitten     2000: Into the Future
2012: Multiply by Four     To The Rescue     Moral of the Story    Epilogue

The Story Begins: 1979
Escaped Kitten

House as it is today
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In 1979 the year my wife Susie, myself and our 6 year old son Jerry moved in our new home in Lavergne, Tn. While living there an event occurred which 40+ years later would shape my life in retirement. Most would call the subsequent events merely consequential. To me it is it pure KARMA. The law of cause and effect.
What occurred is as follows:

While working in the back yard I heard a loud crying noise from what sounded like a woman. The sound came from the side street which was several hundred feet from where I was standing. Feeling concerned and not able to see who it was I stopped what I was doing and ran to investigate. As I approached I saw it was Susie and she was holding something in her hands arms extended. I asked her what was wrong. The question was germane as was her reply but my immediate response was at definitely inappropriate and looking back had LIFE CHANGING reverberations.

What led to this event with the kitten? Susie was 'sitting' for a friend and the kitten had gotten loose and ran off. Susie went searching for the cat and soon found it a couple of blocks from our house. To her horror the kitten had been killed by a dog. Susie being the soft hearted and emotional country girl became hysterical, partly because the kitten was dead and partly because she felt responsible. She had picked the kitten and was headed home crying hysterically drawing attention pretty much of the whole neighborhood. This is where I make my appearance and make my life changing remark:

Me: What's wrong? Are you OK?

Susie: The kitten got out and a dog killed it! And it's my fault.

Me: Susie, it's only a kitten.

only a kitten?

It's only a kitten. Would I, should I have said something different? Would I if I knew the consequences 40+ years later? It was definitely insensative but the consequences! I will never know the answer. Or Would I? Definitely seems I living it?

The Year 2000
Into the Future

Berkley Hills
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Jump forward to the year 2000. Susie and I had divorced but had remained very close. Susie who had a very successful career in apartment management was managing Berkley Hills apartments in Madison. I was renting an apartment in the same complex as was our son and his family {wife and son} which provided an air of an extended family even though definitely beyond the norm.
Susie had a live in boyfriend which added to a strange 'family' situation but we were all happy with the arrangement. I was single, working long hours but found the setup convenient. Son close by, convenient location for my fence business and a good relationship with Susie.

A Gift From Susie

Fade to Black
Then the second event involving cats. Susie had found an abandoned black kitten and for some reason thought I would be the perfect person to take her. She knew I liked dogs she having 'custody' of the two Yorkies for which I still considered part of my family and for which I had 'visiting' priviledges. I had a cat when we married so I guess she figured I would want to adopt this little feline. It took some persuasion but long story shortened I had become a cat dad. I named her Sweets {she lived to be 13}.

Year 2012 and Retirement
Multiply by Four

Space Coast
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In 2012 I took early retirement at age 52. I had always wanted to live in Florida not caring for the cold winters which was the prevelent weather in Nashville. And I had a thing about large bodies of water having as a kid going camping at Center Hill Lake in Tennessee and loving it.
So in 2012 I packed my bags and with my FOUR cats moved to the Gulf Coast. {Yes Four, a true cat dad}. I rented a house in Palm Bay for a year and in late 2013 I bought a small house in Cocoa. My four cats and I had a new home in Florida with its warm winter weather, near the ocean, free from the responsibilities of working life.
Life was good.

Not long after moving to Florida I became involved with the animal rescue community in Brevard County. That along with activism with the National Organization of women {I actually attented a rally in Melbourne}. My animal rescue involvement consisted of building a website highlighting all that was wrong with the then county animal shelters and those who were responsible for the conditions {the major issue being 400 animals a month euthanized}.

Herbie the Cat

2-1/2 Hours From Being Saved
The one major experience that prompted me to get involved occurred before my move to Cocoa. I had informed Brevard County animal services at the South shelter I wanted to adopt an Orange male cat that was on the 'short list' {euthanize}. That was on a Friday and I told them I would pick him up the following Monday. I had decided to name him Herbie. But when I arrived at the shelter I was informed he had been euthanized a few hours before.
I was livid with anger to say the least. And sadden a healthy, beautiful animal had been euthanized for no reason. I made my decision that day to get involved and do all I can to help make the changes those in the animal rescue community had been working for.
You can read the story of Herbie the Cat on his Facebook page Herbie the Cat.

To the Rescue
Kitty City/Cocoa & Altoona

It was not long after moving to Cocoa I noticed a family {about 8 cats} of feral cats roaming the neighborhood. They were not in the best condition and of course were on the lookout for food. So I began feeding them. With the four I already had plus the eight ferals I was at 12 cats. Then there were several cats that had been abandoned at a nearby residence, another 8 cats I began to feed. That made 20 cats.
Then there was another stray male and another. Add Boots, a cat my neighbor agreed to let me take in, and I was at 23 cats. At one time it was 27 cats I was feeding {I had adopted out several to good homes}. Every cat I was caring for I also had neutered/spayed? It wasn't long before I had cats running out the yahoo and I knew I needed to do something to get them 'off the streets'. So I built the first Kitty City.
Kitty City

Home to Rescued Cats

Altoona and Kitty City 2

Located in
Ocala National Forest
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After Kitty City was built and after taking in and housing up to 18 cats I received a notice from Cocoa City codes stating I was in violation of their code on the number of pets allowed {5}. Of course I had many beyond that number and Codes demand I get rid of the excess was out of the question. So instead I decide to sell my home and move.
I am now located in Altoona, Fl in a rural community where most everyone have multiply animals. Dogs, cats, ckickens, goats, birds, animals of all types. I was able to bring 12 cats with me in my move from Cocoa {three feral I couldn't catch} and have taken in another three {not counting four others who have new homes}. I have rebuilt Kitty City and all but two of my furry felines are confined within its 'walls' with the other two on the outside but mainly staying within the yard or close by {a lot of snow bird residents and vacant homes}. There are 15 total and caring for them is a fulltime job. And expensive. But I am committed and determined and by some means I will make it work.

Moral of the Story
Consequences-Even Steven

So, is it a merely a coincidence I now am the caretaker of 15 cats? Is it fate where there there are no choices in life; it is predetermined? Or is it karma? Not in the terms of Buddhism or Hinduism which is based on past lives.

Karma means action. Physics shows that for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction. Karma is energy, which in itself is neither good nor bad; these are just the labels people choose to attach to it. The energy created by an action has to be returned: “As yea sow so shall yea reap.” It cannot be avoided.

Was it a 'grave' mistake by telling Susie it was only a cat? I do remember Susie's reaction to my comment was not positive. She didn't say anything but the 'look' was there. Susie had a motto. "I don't get mad, I get even". Susie was not a bad or evil person. She merely had a way of reacting to actions she considered aggression toward her and keeping quiet while plotting her next move. I witnessed this on occassion and saw the results. Even stevens was usually the outcome and although no one was ever phyiscally injuried I know pride and self esteem didn't receive a boost. I made it a point not to cross her later in our relationship and that tended to secure our bond as friends. With Susie it was definitely better to be friends than an enemy.

Susie made the final transition in 2005 {staff infection brought about by Leukemia}. She has a special place in my heart, my love for her has never diminished. And although I believe she felt the same way that one time I pushed the limits, well she did have a way of casting her spells and once cast it became a unbreakable mold. People often mistakenly mistook her country girl volcabulary and demeanor as a weakness when in fact it was a real strength. Witness her success in apartment management where engaging people was vital.
And she had her peculiar ways. Perhaps she had that inherent understanding of natural law. She was definitely a 'natural' in her attitudes, appearance and style.

Bad Karma/Good Karma

Karma-The Negtaive Evidence
Susie gave me my first cat. A black cat at that. Did she do so knowingly with a plan for retaliation for what I said in a moment of great pain some 20+ years earlier? From one to fifteen. When I moved to Florida I had intentions of a carefree life in the sun with few responsibilities {having been a business owner which was a 24/7 gig}. I won't get into my short comings {regretful} as a husband but surely that has something to do with the overall scheme of things. As I stated previously Susie never tried to physically harm anyone. But getting even by other means? She was good at that. Really good. And there is natural law soething I not only believe in but live by. In my 72+ years of life I've witnessed on too many occassions the results of one's actions. Having studied Jungian psyche for more than 30 years I know life is governed by unseen {unconscious} energies. I sincerely believe I am in the position as a caretaker of 15 cats because of what happened in 1979. What else could have manifest this position? It is not a bad thing to be a cat dad but it is very emotional. Susie was extremely emotional. I have studied Jung for all these years because it deals with emotional energies. It all adds up. Black {cat} on black {unconscious energies} makes all the sense in the world.
Susie may not be with us on an earthly plane but she certainly has a presence on a spiritual level.

Karma-The Positive Evidence
So far I have discussed all the negative energies in my relationship with Susie coming from my actions 40+ years ago. But there is also then positive. In 19978 I began a fence residental business in Middle Tennessee which today still exists and is owned and managed by my son Jerry in Orlando and central Florida. In the early nineties I began my education in Jungian dream psychology {for which this website is about} and for 12 years operated the business pretty much parttime while doing my Jungian studies, learning web design and building several websites and performing dream analysis at my Dream Forum. During those years my income was not substantial. Most know when you take early retirement social security benefits are reduced. I entered retirement knowing this and expecting a certain amount of benefits. But again Karma has played its hand and again Susie is involved.

In January 2012 I filed for Social Security expecting the regular reduced benefits to begin in March. In late February I received a phone call from the Social Security Administration. The representative {by her voice I believe she was African American, a 'black' woman} called to discuss my benefits. She asked if I was aware I was eligible for survivors benefits since I was at the time {and still} divorced, a 'survivor' of a deceased family member and the rules allowed me to collect enhanced benefits. Also, because the rules state such benefits can begin at age 60 I was entitled to a cash deposit starting from the date I filed for my benefits {which was $3000}. All this was very good news. Enhanced benefits and $3000 deposited in my bank account. Christmas in February.

And who was the family memeber? None other than Susie. Because we had been married for more than 10 years and I met all the requirements I was able to use her salary scale as my monthly benefits.
As I noted perviously Susie had a very successful career in apartment management and made a good salary for it. And because I had worked less than fulltime for so many years in my business her benefits were greater than mine. I was able to use her salary scale to based my monthly social security payments. Over the past 10 years since I retired that has amounted to thousands of dollars I woud not have recieved if not for Susie. Seems Susie had cast her spell for my cattery life early on and supplied me with the extra income to help pay for it.

I have my doubts about heavenly existance but I do believe there is an angel looking over me and that Angel is Susie.

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