Free Short Stories Online: Adopting a Cat
Queen of the Animal Shelter: How We Did Not Adopt Kittens from the Humane Society
We were looking for a kitten. A small furry kitten with enormous eyes, spikey fur and ears as long as its whiskers. A kitten who would pounce on leaves and crinkled paper on the floor, climb up our legs with needle sharp claws when it wanted food or affection, and chase the darting light of the laser key chain in hilarious antics until, suddenly overcome by sleep, it would drop its head on its paws with a sigh and nap in its tracks.
In fact, what my daughter wanted was a pair of kittens.
"Our kitten will be lonely if we go out. Can't we get two so they can have a friend at home when I am at school and you go to work?"
So that's how it happened that we were walking into the Pet Depot on a Saturday afternoon on the first day of summer holidays.
"Kittens are like babies," I told her. "We have to bring them home when we have lots of time to stay home with them and train them, or they will be climbing up the curtains and ripping them, jumping on the table with their cat box feet, and knocking the plants over, breaking them and spilling dirt everywhere."
"I'll clean up after them," she vowed.
Let Your Cats Climb, Scratch and Perch
Who knew there were so many choices in pet food for cats? Dry food, canned food, and Temptations crispy on the outside with a soft core. Beef, liver, chicken, turkey, lamb, tuna, whitefish, salmon, mackerel and almost any kind of mix. Organic, small cans, large cans, a choice for every budget. I scanned the aisle as I waited for the Humane Society volunteer to bring the cats they were showcasing for adoption that week. Am I the only pet owner slightly baffled by all the choices? Even here the marketing mavens watch us, differentiate the brand then create a perceived need for it.
We had got to the carrying cases, pet beds, and cat condos to give the climbing cats places to perch instead of the top of the microwave oven or refrigerator, when a cheerful middle aged woman arrived with a carrying cage and released a large tabby, a furry black and white tuxie with one ear missing, and a gray and white domestic short-hair into the large cage in the open space at the end of the aisle. As she filled the dish with water she spoke to them softly, pausing in her work to stroke them and rub their cheeks.
"Do you have any kittens for adoption?" I inquired.
"We bring the adult cats here, the ones that are harder to adopt. We do have some kittens that will be ready to leave their mother later this week, but they are at the shelter or fostered out in homes."
At the sound of our voices, the gray and white began meowing loudly, insistently, asserting her need.
"Are you talking to me?" Already half-turning away when I saw they were not kittens, I came back to see her. The Human Society worker was crouching at the front of the cage now, attaching the yellow file cards with the names and descriptions. "Is your name Latifah? Latifah, Latifah, Queen Latifah."
She was looking me straight in the eye. She had picked me out. She was my cat, and I was her human.
"She is a beautiful cat. She needs a one-cat family. She spent her whole life for seven years with one family, but when they got transferred to Wales, they couldn't take her. She really needs a home. She is not doing very well in the Shelter. It's too stressful. There are twenty seven cats there this week. We always have too many cats."
"We are really looking for a kitten, a pair of kittens. We are going to have to think about this."
I walked away toward the back of the store, but Latifah's call was louder and more insistent as I moved down the aisle. I knew I was not going to be able to leave her behind. I surrendered.
Later in the afternoon we opened the carrying cage for Latifah so she could come out and explore her new home. Clearly traumatized by her six-week stay in the Shelter, she wouldn't let me pick her up. She hid behind the couch. For the first week the only evidence I had that she was living with us was the empty plate of food in the morning and the sand scattered on the edge of the cat box.
But one night I awoke to feel furry feet walking on my head, and heard a loud purr. She turned a few circles and curled up in the curve of my body. Her purr grew softer and stopped. I knew she had fallen asleep.
Queen Latifah had come home.
We are still looking for kittens. Next week we are going back to the Humane Society Shelter to see the kittens.