May 7, 2011 by wcobserver
She was not a cat I particularly wanted to own. But I had a hole to fill with the death of a favored cat, and found myself at the animal shelter considering my options. The cages were full of cats.
Most of them were half grown, or older—angry old males with cynicism and despair in their glances, skinny adolescents brashly hopeful that someone would find them irresistible, a few moms with batches of babies crawling over them, none of them really cute or bright eyed, at least, not enough to catch my attention. But there was one cage with only one kitten, a very small creature sitting completely still at the front of the cage. Its eyes did not follow me. It just sat there, not waiting.
Her black fur was not well groomed and the white slash that came up her throat and peaked off center on her forehead was matched by a few ridiculously long white ear hairs that stuck out far past the tips of her black ears. I poked my finger through the metal bars to pet the top of her little head. She didn’t respond. She was only slightly more responsive when I held her, refusing to purr even when I stroked all the best places. The attendant told the history: picked up by the paddy wagon in a city neighborhood, running wild and bone thin at the edge of the street. No sign of her mother or siblings had been found, although by everyone’s estimation, she was far too young to be weaned. They had tried to feed her, but she had been lackadaisical about food. She was due to be exterminated in two days if she didn’t waste away sooner.
I took her home, holding her against my belly as I drove, promising things would be better now. I regaled her with visions of long sunny days, endless supplies of food and lots of petting. Perhaps I did fail to mention three teenaged kids, a irritable husband, and a menagerie of other critters, including other cats. The omissions would not be overlooked.
After several days of break-in time, where I sequestered her safely in a closed bathroom with everything she might need, she was loose on the property. She didn’t appreciate the freedom, terrified by everything and seeing nothing she needed more than my constant companionship. She was particularly indignant at the crack of dawn, when she would come to the bedside and scream out her raucous, high-pitched complaint about life in general, much to the aggravation of my still-sleeping husband. He made his usual threats about killing that #$%* cat if I didn’t make her shut up. So I would quickly grab her and hold her next to me under the edge of the covers. (To be continued).
Denele Pitts Campbell is a writer, restauranteur, and businesswoman. She lives in the Mineral Springs community near West Fork.