Early Thursday morning I am driving home after getting a kid off to school. My cell phone rings. It’s my neighbor, Ann, in a panic with her dogs yipping in the background.
“Valerie, there’s a cat on the deck crying at the door. The dogs tried to get it, but it won’t leave. What should I do?”
I picture her pair of black and brown miniature dachshunds and am not worried. Still, it’s odd the cat would hang around that racket and Ann is pretty worked up.
“I am on my way home now, I will be back in about 15 minutes. Can you bring it in and keep it warm until I get there?”
“In the house? Maybe I should go out and wrap it in a blanket,” she offers.
“No, no. They don’t like that,” I respond.
“I can put it in a cage,” she counters. I envision a not-so-clever cat locked in a smelly dog crate.
“No, they don’t much like that either. How about you just keep it company until I get home? Just go outside and sit down. Let it come up to you,” I try to instruct her.
“Okay. I’ll get my coat. See you soon. Bye,” and the call ends.
I pull up in Ann’s driveway to her holding the sweetest little orange face sticking out of her jacket. I don’t even get out of the car and she hands me a kitten through the window. So much for thinking it might run off if she went outside.
I take it home and up the stairs to my youngest son’s bedroom. Spence wakes up to a 12-week old orange tabby kitten mewing. He puts on his glasses in what has to be his fastest morning wake-up ever.
“Keep an eye on our guest for me. I am going to get him something to eat, keep the door shut until I get back. Okay?” I check to see if he is awake enough to follow directions. He is staring at the cat with his hair sticking out in every direction. He nods once, never taking his eyes off the kitten.
The kitten eats, drinks, purrs and mews. Spence is thrilled to be the only kid home, he gets the little guy all to himself.
“What are we going to call it? Is it a boy? Can I name him? Where did you get him? Did you tell Jordan and Jacob yet?” he peppers me with questions.
It is a full thirty minutes before I notice his paws. Oh no-absolutely not. This cat is not staying. He has a full, fur-covered extra toe complete with toe pad and claw on the inside of each front foot. We already have a collection of misfit cats: anxious Sadie with her weepy eye, cowardly Oakley with his mangled fangs and missing patches of fur, raspy Frodo with his chronic breathing problems. I am not keeping this cat!
I don’t define my pets based on their oddities, any more than I would label a person by their differences. We all have quirks, some more obvious than others. If we only recognize the prominent positive or negative features, our views are reduced to caricatures rather than full creatures, whether cat or human being. Caricatures fall short of engaging and entertaining both our lives and our stories, while complex characters spring to life and enrich our existence. No one deserves to be viewed as a caricature.
Free to a Good Home: Adorable male kitten approximately 12 weeks old. Orange tabby colorings with white socks and white chest. Affectionate people-loving cat gets along well with kids, cats and our dog. Clean bill of health from vet, will be neutered with all shots. Just in time for Christmas!