“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi’s words speak directly to our hearts. As we strive to build communities filled with love and compassion, one woman, Maria Montes, embodies these ideals. Her story begins with an unsettling moment but unfolds into a saga of empathy, resilience, and love, reminding us that even a simple glance out of the window can change a life forever.
Maria lived across the street from a family that, one fateful day, decided to move. While moving is often a busy and stressful process, what Maria found shocking was the sight of her neighbor patting a cat on the head and then driving away. The cat was left to fend for itself in an empty yard. Maria couldn’t fathom why they didn’t tell her about the cat they no longer wanted. “They could have told me ‘we’re moving… we don’t want him’… I just didn’t want to believe it,” she said, full of incredulity and a broken heart for the lonely feline.
As if in a heart-wrenching tableau, the cat would gaze at every passing car, hopeful yet increasingly forlorn. He sat there through the rain and the cold, waiting for an embrace that would never come. Maria knew she had to do something. But winning the trust of an abandoned, scared, and evidently older cat wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Cats, as Maria quickly found out, often hesitate to open up when they’ve been traumatized.
A relentless spirit, Maria began her quest to earn the cat’s trust. She researched various methods and decided to start with a language every living being understands: the language of food. Although the cat—later named Rolo—did begin to frequent Maria’s food offerings, he remained elusive when she tried to approach him. Moreover, Maria noticed a concerning issue. Rolo was losing a lot of weight.
Faced with Rolo’s deteriorating health, Maria knew she had to expedite the process of trust. One day, summoning all her courage and love, she picked him up despite a series of hisses from the fearful creature. Maria rushed Rolo to the vet, where he underwent extensive treatment for various ailments including a mouth infection and feline leukemia. He spent four days at the clinic, coming out healthier, happier, and a step closer to regaining his old self.
Maria started a GoFundMe campaign to manage Rolo’s vet bills, and the community responded with overwhelming love and generosity. When Maria brought him back home, he seemed more alert and comfortable. Rolo may sometimes look wistfully toward his former home across the street, but he seems to understand now that he’s found his forever home. Maria and her boyfriend even rearranged their living space, moving their washer and dryer, just to create a special little corner for Rolo.
Today, Rolo enjoys chasing toys and has resumed playing like a young kitten, proving that age is but a number when you’re happy and loved. So the next time you feel like turning a blind eye towards a situation that calls for empathy and action, remember Maria and Rolo. A simple act of kindness, even just paying attention to your surroundings, can give someone—a human or an animal—a second chance at life.
If you’re inspired by Maria and Rolo’s story, do consider supporting your local animal shelters or adopting a pet in need. Because, as they say, adopting one animal may not change the world, but for that one animal, their world will change forever.