I didn’t have a job. I owed the Cat Clinic hundreds of dollars for the care of the late great Paco. It would have been irresponsible to get a new cat. So when the pitiful cries of two little ones are heard outside my apartment window, I steel myself and say, I can’t save all the kitties.
In that neighborhood, at that apartment complex, people were abandoning cats all the time. It was one of the hardest parts of living there, and that wasn’t an easy place to live. It was devastating not to be able to help all the poor kitties who sat outside my window, crying. Fortunately, one of the other residents worked at a no-kill shelter, and she was usually able to find them a home.
I had only the screen open, so I closed the window completely. The crying fades slightly, and now I start to cry a little. It’s only been four months since I lost Paco, and I miss him. Not to mention no one should have to cry like that. Were they hungry? Did they have a home?
Two hours after the crying starts there’s a knock at my door. I open it to find Kaylee, my neighbor, holding the cutest one-pound ball of fluff I’ve ever seen. “Here’s your baby!” Kaylee says with delight as Ball of Fluff leaps out of her arms and runs into the heart of my apartment. I run after him (her?) and scoop him up, hand him back to my neighbor and explain he’s not mine, I can’t take him in, and why.
Kaylee’s face falls. “Okay,” she says. I found out later she and her roommate, Foster, took in Ball of Fluff and B of F’s sister, along with a menagerie of other abandoned pets, hoping they could find their real owners, or in the alternative, new homes for them.
“You’re Coming Home.”
That didn’t last too long. Come January, it’s below freezing, with ice, sleet and snow covering every inch outside my door. I lay awake one night once again listening to the pitiful cries of a kitty. I can’t stand it. Throughout the night I hear him crying, again and again.
Finally, it’s morning, and all is quiet. I’m hopeful the kitty has received good care, because I no longer hear any crying. I leave for an errand, but when I come back, I hear him.
A quick look around reveals he’s right outside Kaylee and Foster’s door. It looks like Ball of Fluff, a little bit bigger, a lot soggier, a whole lot sadder. And mysteriously, with a blue leg.
“Okay,” I tell him. “You’re coming home.”
Later that night, when Kaylee is home from work, I tell her I’ve taken in the kitty, whom I’ve named Walter. She’s ecstatic.
“The police told us we couldn’t keep all these all animals here without a kennel permit,” she said, “so we put those two outside and gave them food.” True or not about the police, they had dumped two kittens outside, in the middle of winter. I held my tongue.
“I can only take one,” I said. “Really, I can’t even afford him, but I can’t let him stay outside.”
“Okay,” her face telling me that clearly, she’d hoped I’d take the other, too.
“He looked so pitiful…” I said. “That blue leg…”
“Oh, that,” Kaylee rolled her eyes. “He jumped into a jar of my blue paint and wouldn’t let me clean him.”
Jumped into a jar of her blue paint…I didn’t ask. I later learned Walter liked to dive from the refrigerator onto the far counter, and he jumped into more than one glass of my orange juice before I discovered how far away I had to place it.
The next afternoon Walter sat in my bedroom window and cried. I felt terrible, then I heard something that made me feel even worse: the sound of another kitty crying on the other side. His sister. I couldn’t see her, but I knew I wouldn’t last with that situation. I was about to be the proud mama of two kitties.
I wrote a note and placed it on the girls’ door upstairs. “Everybody needs a little buddy. Bring the other kitty over. I’ll take her in.”
Within thirty minutes there was a knock at my door. “Walter,” I said, as I headed to the door. “Here’s my other baby.”