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The gray kitten who had no name

I have a short horror story for you that won’t take long. This story lives in the heads of my children’s friends, in the halls and rooms of colleges, and around fires late at night. It has to do with being a pet owner and why for the last 15 years we’ve chosen not to be one, though one tiny gray kitten decided to change all that.

When the kids were small, we had a cat, and because we didn’t get it fixed, it multiplied. Five cats weren’t so bad when they were outside, so we enjoyed them. Then they multiplied, and everything descended into chaos.

We needed to give some away, but that day never happened, and soon we had 20 cats. We went on vacation and left plenty of food and had in place a neighbor that would come over and check on them. They’re animals, so they do fend for themselves. They were outside cats who to be honest came inside a lot.

We left for a week and were excited to see the little rascals running up to us when we arrived home. We got out and nary a little purr or meow could be heard, so we went looking. What we found will forever haunt me and made good fodder for years — after we got over it — to spin yarns that would horrify. In no easy terms the cats were massacred by something. Coyote? Fox? We don’t know.

All we found were piles of fur, lots of piles, huddled together. Every single cat was gone, ended by a wild creature that we could only conjure in our imaginations. When we found the mama in the mess, my original kitty, I cried and vowed I would never have an animal again: no more attachments, no smelly litter boxes, done. Our kids all live outside the home now, but they’ve tried over the years to entice me with neighbor’s kittens or a friend that had a litter. George resisted, and after petting them, I would turn a steely eye to my children and tell them to take it back. I was iron, and I would never have a cat again.

This summer marked 15 years without cats, and I didn’t miss them. We are now at the stage of our life where if we want to up and leave, we do it. There’s nothing holding us back. If we ever had a pet again, it had better be one that never has an accident in my house and is perfect.

And then one morning in July I looked outside and saw a fuzzy gray body lying on the cushions on the front porch. Cats come and go in our neighborhood but none this small. I figured it would be gone soon. But it was there the next morning and the next, and soon we were giving it milk. Before I knew it, that little ball of fur had entrenched itself in our hearts.

My daughter, who was home for the summer, just laughed and said, “I prayed for gray kitty, Mom.” God has a way of granting her prayers. Maybe she’s a better believer than I am, and I rolled my eyes at her and started muttering to myself. This cat seemed too perfect. It meowed at the door when it needed to go, stayed outside for hours at a time playing when I needed to write and slept on cushions in our enclosed garage. It did everything I needed it to do to pass my requirements.

This weekend it disappeared, and my heart was heavy. I was surprised by my feelings, and after 18 hours gone, I gave up and decided if it was meant to be ours it would come back. We moped around the house like little kids losing their favorite toy, listless and wondering why it had run away. I called and called for it well into the night, knowing that if it was around that it could hear me. I checked our alley and surrounding houses, even putting its little face on Facebook.

Our neighbors were gone for the weekend, and I decided to look in their garage windows after George thought he saw something. I walked around to the front and opened their garage doors, knowing they wouldn’t care, and the first thing I saw was my kitty. It had been trapped in their garage on accident. My heart leapt, and I picked him up and apologized for not finding him sooner. He just meowed and proceeded to eat two packs of food and fall asleep on my lap. I’d refused to name him for over a month, knowing he would leave as they all do. But not Tino. He’d found home.

Published: September 9, 2016
New Article ID: 2016709099975