February is the month of love, and Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrating love and friendship. What is more unconditional than the love between humans and their animals? So today I will tell you the story of Guapo, our patio cat.

It’s been said that you don’t choose your animals, they choose you. I believe this to be true, especially for rescue animals, like the bumper sticker says, “who rescued who”?

Guapo’s story starts on a morning in May. My daughter was in her room getting ready for school when she looked out her window and said, Mom, there’s a cat on our patio. Sure enough, there was a black and gray tiger striped cat on our upstairs patio. He was laying on a chair giving himself a bath. When I tell you I was giddy with excitement, it might be an understatement. I watched this cat for hours from both bedroom windows. I took photos and videos. After he gave himself a bath, he took a long nap. I had no idea how he had gotten on my upstairs patio, or if he had ever visited before and I hadn’t noticed him. I was barely able to control myself from going out there, but I wasn’t sure if he was feral.

The next day, he was back again, and everyday that week. He was a skinny little kitten, so, of course I started giving him food and water. He eventually let me pet him. Once he trusted me, he was very friendly, he was very talkative, and loved getting pets. He was the most handsome cat I had ever seen. By the end of June, he was coming every day in the morning and afternoon.

Since we have other animals, letting him in the house wasn’t an option until I could get him to the vet. Mr. Wood was somewhat unconvinced that we needed another cat, as we already had two cats and two dogs; he cautioned me not to get too attached because we weren’t keeping him … (pause for effect) jajajajaj!

At first, we just started calling him Patio cat. When he would pop up on the balcony, we’d exclaim Patio cat is here! It became part of my morning routine that I would go out on the patio and sit with him while he ate, and then I would pet him and talk to him and call him my very handsome boy. Since we live in Mexico, it only made sense to call him Guapo, or Handsome in Spanish. There was a debate in our house if he should be named Patio or Guapo.

One morning, I go outside as usual to visit with Patio. When he gets up off the chair to come eat, I notice blood all over the seat cushion. When I went to pet him, he was bleeding from his face, his ear was torn and bleeding, and one of his paws had a torn nail and was bleeding. I called our vet, Servicios Medicos, and made an emergency appointment, whisked him into our cat carrier and went to get him checked out.  Of course, when you go to the vet, they need a name for his vet records, so he is now officially Guapo. The vet sedated him and cleaned his wounds and give him antibiotics. They did blood work to confirm he didn’t have feline leukemia or any other feline diseases. They couldn’t give him vaccines or neuter him because he needed to heal from the trauma first. When we got home, I made an indoor casa for him in our guest bedroom until he got better. He was in cat quarantine living the life of luxury for two weeks until he could be neutered.

Fast forward … as you can probably guess, Guapo has a loving family and fur-ever home now.

He chose our family to rescue him, and we love him unconditionally, even Mr. Wood, though he won’t admit it.

If you are looking for a Valentine’s gift that teaches the true meaning of love, consider adopting a cat or a dog from one of the rescues in Rocky Point:

Cat Rescue: Animal Adoption Center of Rocky Point, run by Nancy Phelan.

Dog Rescue: Barb’s Dog Rescue, which is on your way into, or out of town.

Clinica Esperanza: Animal clinic that works with Compassion Without Borders and does free spay and neuter clinics and adoption events. They work with both cats and dogs.

If pet ownership isn’t an option, you can always donate to any of these wonderful non-profit organizations. Their Facebook pages have donation information.

Feliz día de San Valentín.