So last night, I was driving home from work, making up a rap (See: “Uncouth Rap I Made Up On the Drive Home Today“), picking up the phone to call my buddy Jame, when all the sudden, across the intersection of N. 5th and Bridger: a kitten, I’d say no less than three months old, frantically dragging itself across the street, dragging a limp hind leg behind it’s tiny body. He was missing a patch of fur and his peachy flesh poked through his fur that happened to match the burgeoning twilight.
Simultaneously, I threw my phone into the passenger seat and screeched into the berm, jumping out of my car. “Oh on oh no oh no oh no oh no… ohh… kittyyy????” It couldn’t have gotten far.
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve recently been in the market for a cat, but have decided to further evaluate my finances (a.k.a. my mom didn’t think it was a good idea) before moving forward with the plan. This however, did not deter my desire for a little pet. And it only turned my petless heart into a pool of love sauce (wrong metaphor?) at the sight of a decrepit cat child.
I crouched next to the parked cars on the other side of the street, called police dispatch, identifying myself as a member of the local media (as if that makes anyone jump) and jingled my keys into the bushes. “Herrreee key-key-key-key-key!” I cooed under the bumpers and branches, the only cat call I could ever pull off.
But this little guy was scared, and wasn’t having it. I found him next to the inside of the right front tire of an old black pick up truck (called back dispatch to tell them this breaking detail: “Okayy…”) and watched his trembling glassy eyes evaluate me, decide my pleas were more invalid than his paw, and, when he realized he couldn’t jump into the bottom of the truck’s engine, slink away to the back of the vehicle. Draaaagdragdrag against the asphalt, that fur.
There was nothing else I could do.
I got back to my house, and walking the steps up to my porch, I noticed a different black cat tip-toeing toward me. “Hey you couldn’t help that last guy but what’s that gotta do with meeee frrrrrriennnd??” Or at least that’s what I’m pretty sure he said as I found myself letting him rub his nape against my gloved hand.
“Ohhh mannn…” I said, helplessly, “I know I know I knowww but I can’t take you inside… I just… I can’t… what if you have fleas?” I think I felt a sneeze coming on.
“But frrrrrienddd….” he stretched his lanky body up the length of my leg. “Open that doorrrr and I’ll just get in anywaayyyrrr…”
Luckily, I found a moment when he was scratching himself on Mickey’s bike pedal that I could skirt the perimeter of my house and get into my side door. Literally. I went down my porch steps, out to the sidewalk, into my neighbors’ yard, over their weird log parking structure, behind my trash cans and into my little side door.
I caught my breath, took my gloves off and washed my hands. What was I getting myself into? Sure, cat lust had overtaken my brain, but there was no way I could foster the entire neighborhood of strays.
I laid in my bed that night a little chilly, and pulled the blankets up closer to my head, and couldn’t help thinking about my little friend. Did animal control ever come for him? If not, would he even make it through the night? Would something find him defenseless and eat him? Would he freeze? His little paw? Could I have done more to grab him and help him? What if I had adopted a cat–what if it could have been him? Unsleepingly, I laid staring up through the dark that never ends. A cat? A cat.