Karma means to do. It refers to the universal principle of cause and effect and can be practiced through selfless service. In modern day terminology, it can described as volunteer work. As part of completion of my 500 hour yoga training with Sri Dharma Mittra back in January and March of 2011, community service and/or Karma yoga was one of the requirements. There are several ways one could meet the requirement, and at the time, my choice and intention was to donate my time to a local animal shelter in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, BARC. As life and busy days have it, that never ended up happening… and throughout, there were moments of anticipation in knowing this was something I still needed to complete.
Fast forward to summer of 2012. A little bit of a background, I have always been a seriously huge cat lover. My sister’s cat Kali is now referred to as my niece whom I cannot get enough of, I grew up with a cat, Pebbles… and also had a cat throughout some of my college and post college years… Izzy. Unfortunately, my husband Ryan is allergic and the desire to adopt a new little furry friend has never quite been possible.
About a month or so ago, my karma yoga project literally knocked on our door. In the adjacent backyard to ours, we found a mother cat and her three kittens. There, she had cleverly found a safe place for the birth her kittens and where she could tend to them in the early weeks of their lives. There was no way I couldn’t have done something about this. Treading very carefully at first, each day I began checking on them several time throughout the day… as I was a total foreigner in her eyes, the mama got scared and protective of her little ones and all ran into hiding. I then began feeding them twice a day at a certain point and that was when they realized I wasn’t there to hurt them, but only help them. Our friendship and trust began there… and it’s as though I was meant to care for and help these cats in need.
In our efforts to help rescue (now known as) Mama Juno and her three Chipmunks – Alvin, Simon and Theodore, I did a ton of research online and after several failed attempts in finding a shelter, I reached out to a woman named Kathryn Walton. She is the Founder and owner of The American Street Cat, a non-profit organization born out of her love for cats that is dedicated to minimizing the stray cat overpopulation in Brooklyn and the greater NYC metro area. She helped us safely trap them all, get them vetted and helped provide the care they needed. The kittens all received a clean bill of health and were adopted and fostered this week!!! Sadly, mama Juno doesn’t have such an easy road ahead of her. She was diagnosed with a heart condition and also has FIV (equivalent to HIV for humans). It’s not the FIV that is of concern mostly, but her poor little heart. She will be monitored and given proper care and diet throughout her life… and she is a lucky little lady even with her health issues.
I have learned and felt so much throughout this experience. I have had moments of anxiety, in not knowing how to approach these cats, moments of extreme sadness for their hard lives and moments of utter openness in my heart of wanting to give and provide as much as possible for their little souls. The majority of the moments lie in this desire to give. I have learned so much about the stray cat population as a result, and also learned about the different dilemmas cats face on a regular basis. Our work wouldn’t have been possible without Kathyrn, and she is one of the kindest souls I have ever met. Her love for cats is beyond love, and her endless efforts to help and provide for them is overwhelming. Her non-profit strives every day to continue helping cats in need, if you have a warm spot in your heart for animals and care to donate to her fund, you can donate here. www.theamericanstreetcat.org/donate