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      With apologies to Cleveland Amory, this is the story of Mingo, our very own "Cat Who Came For Christmas." It was Christmas Eve, 1993. I was driving home after doing some last minute shopping. Exhausted and laden with parcels, I was anxious to get home. I stopped at a gas station and noticed a tiny dark figure in the shadows by the pumps. It was an under-nourished little black cat whom life had obviously not treated well. I saw a massive wound on his side that greatly alarmed me. As there were no houses in the area, it was obvious that the poor little guy was homeless and alone. Judging by his condition, I knew that he would not last much longer fending for himself. I tried to approach him but he ran off and hid behind a large metal shoeshine stand outside some closed stores. I wedged my head inside the back of the hollow stand. All I could see in the pitch black were two huge, fear-filled golden eyes. Since he was too frightened to respond to me, I decided to change tactics. I went back to the car and got a carrier and some food (which I always bring with me for these occasions). I managed, with a great deal of effort, to slide the huge shoeshine stand far enough away from the wall to put the carrier behind it. I placed the food into the back of the carrier, wedged my body in behind it and waited.
      Here I was, in the middle of the night, at a deserted strip mall, on Christmas Eve, lying on the ground behind a shoeshine stand trying to catch a cat. Picture that if you will, and imagine my husbandís reaction if he had known at the time! But it was just another typical day in the life of an animal rescuer! It took about 30 minutes for hunger to finally overcome Mingoís fear and he slowly approached the carrier. After giving him time to relax and eat, I quietly closed the door behind him. I was absolutely elated with my very precious Christmas gift!
      Mingo had obviously been somebodyís pet because he was not afraid of me once he was in the carrier. The truth of the matter is, the term "stray" is very misused. A more correct term would be "abandoned". The word "stray" implies that the animal has wandered by choice and most often, as with Mingo, that is sadly not the case.
      The wound on Mingoís side was a long neglected abscess which had eaten through the muscle wall and required extensive surgery to repair. He went through a lengthy recuperation period. Apart from suffering from allergies, he is now in excellent health.
      Mingo is one of the most delightful cats you will ever come across. He is loving, affectionate and so thrilled just to belong! Each time we have a visitor to the sanctuary, he desperately tries to get their attention but he never gets picked. Thatís ok! We love him and we are happy to have given him the gift of life for which he rewards us so richly every day.
      So our Christmas story has a happy ending. Mingo got to spend that Christmas Eve, and every Christmas Eve since then, in a warm, loving environment where he never has to be afraid again. He is our real, true-life "Cat Who Came For Christmas."

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