Janice and her two cats are homeless and living in and out of shelters at night, spending some days on Michigan Avenue asking for money.
I spoke to Janice in October - before the bottom dropped out on the Chicago thermometer. She told me she was hoping to save for enough to move into an apartment. What happened, she said, is that she was forced out on the street as a result of a house fire. She was conversant, and articulate. She had no hesitancy to tell her story, and I get the sense that she tells the story many times each day. I can only presume the story is true.
As she talked to me back in October she became very quiet, as she told me the worst thing about the fire was that she lost her cat. She said that someone gave her a little kitten who she named him Smokey. "I don't know what will happen to us, or how long we will be out on the street," she said. "I never thought this would ever happen to me. But I have little Smokey here!"
When I spoke with her back in October she then had only Smokey, I asked where the other kitten (now young adult) came from? She said she always had two kittens and that they are littermates.
Well, do you see two kittens in this photo?
No matter....She talked with me about how people who live nearby will bring her cat food for the pair, and how she gets more questions about the cats - who I believe she lives for - than she does about herself.
Is she using the cats to take advantage of people? Her response is, "They're my babies." Clearly the cats seem to equally adore her. I asked about them not being on a harness and leash, and she said "They want to be with me." Of course, the cats aren't aware of Janice's bank account, or lack of one.
I asked about the homeless shelter allowing cats (which I didn't think they did), and she maintains, "They like them."
She told me that she and her two cats spent the deep freeze days inside he shelter, and reiterated what she told me back in October "With God's grace I will be off the streets soon." I hope so, Janice.
(I told Janice that I would again be writing about her for my blog, and images were taken with her permission)
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