Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Sunday Night Visitor

On Sunday I called my sister BJ who lives in Idaho. Her cat recently had kittens and so we were talking about how cute kittens are. I was saying, as I often do, how I wished I wasn't so allergic, so I could have a kitten. Later, when E and I were watching some TV, we heard a sound from outside that could have either been a baby or a cat crying. Ever curious, and a cat lover herself, E opened the window, and we distinctly heard a cat meowing over and over again. We decided to investigate, and anyway we had to take the trash out. Outside where the trash from our apartment building is collected, there is a large cement area which has become the site of a lot of debris. We followed the sound of the meows over there and in the dim light of the evening we tried to figure out where the poor cat could be. Suddenly a big fluffy cat ran past me, obviously a wild tomcat frightened by us. Then out of the pile of rubbish came a gray kitten. It ran straight toward us, and E bent down to pet it. Neither a baby kitten nor a full-grown cat, the "teenage" kitten was adorable and obviously happy to see us. It purred and rubbed against our legs and let us pick it up. We wondered if it had been abandoned by someone, or somehow escaped an indoor home. There was no choice but to take it inside. Naming him Long John Silver for his color and his extremely long skinny tail, we fed the kitten and played with him. He gobbled up the food, then ran around our house exploring and attacking things, but would always return to us for pets and cuddles. I wanted to keep him, but after just minutes of kitten exposure, my sinuses were filling up, my esophagus closing, and my eyes itching. When I started to sneeze, we had no choice but to take little Johnny back outside. Satisfied that we had at least fed him, verified that he was strong and healthy, and given him a little bit of love, we set him free to brave the wilds of an urban jungle. The life of a Harlem alley cat is not pleasant or easy, judging from the wild-eyed mangy felines I've seen slinking along sidewalks in the halflight of evenings before trash day. Facing constant attacks from cruel vehicles, humans, and rats, they lead dangerous, unloved lives. Our little silver-colored cat-kitten meowed for a few minutes, unhappy to be unbundled from E's warm sweatshirt and put out into the cold night, but he was soon gone--bravely and curiously entering the darkness.

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