Friday, January 8, 2010

I Speak with a Street Cat

Cats are rare in Harlem. You'd think they'd have a field day here with all the rats and mice, but they tend to get a lot of abuse from the 2-legged animals, and cars. Still, every now and then I catch glimpse of a skinny cat weaving its way through a forest of garbage cans or scampering low against the ground to hide under the nearest car. Once I saw a big orange cat actually napping in the open, on a low wall. As I approached it, hand outstretched to pet it, it opened its eyes, hissed, jumped into the air and practically disappeared into an alley. But I've learned how to befriend the street cats, and did it yesterday as I walked home from the subway. Down the street a little ways I spied a gray cat loping along, skulking from shadow to shadow. It saw me too, and started to flee. But suddenly, in my most high-pitched voice, I loudly said "kitten!" and the cat stopped in its tracks, turned to look at me, and meowed. It stayed put as I caught up with it and bent down to scratch its fuzzy ear. It meowed and meowed at me, probably out of hunger and loneliness, and I would have probably taken it home with me if I weren't deathly allergic. Then again, maybe it was trying to tell me in its language that it was scared of me and hated me, but my grasp of cat language isn't extensive enough to know. Nevertheless, it let me pet it, and that never happens with alley cats. I think I've made a breakthrough.

1 comment:

rachel said...

that is exactly how i react to cats...the high volume, high pitched, "KITTEN!!" squeal, normally reserved for very young children in white organza party dresses.