A few weeks ago, while I was still employed at the nursing home, I had a chance encounter with a precious dark and light gray striped kitty with non-identical splashes of white fur on his paws and beautiful eyes the color of a lamb’s ear plant, a lot like this cat in fact http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Grey-Striped-Cat-with-Leaves-Posters_i3508952_.htm. One of the residents, by the name of Kenny, is a 30 something paraplegic. He has a pony tail, always wears a backwards black cap and sports Harley Davidson tees. He chain smokes cigarettes out on the patio with his wife when she comes to visit. I’m not sure why he is in a nursing home at such a young age, besides the obvious, that he’s wheelchair bound with no legs. I guess his wife just struggled to take care of him, which is understandable and also none of my business. They were both really sweet to me. She, surprisingly more so than him, looks as though she’s had a rough go at this whole life business we’re all born into without our own consent. She’s not even forty and wears the worn, wrinkled, nearly toothless face of a much older being. She’s also unnaturally teeny, I doubt she weighs more than 95 pounds. Either she had a hard life, has done her fair share of crystal meth (a popular drug in rural mountain communities) or maybe both. Regardless, I felt very drawn to this woman. She has a wit to her, a rawness, an “I’ve seen some things” sensibility, that I very much appreciate in a human being. So I guess we became casual acquaintances over the course of my employment at her husband’s place of residence. She visited very regularly and you could tell she cared deeply for her husband.
One night she came into the laundry area with an adorable kitty-cat in her arms. I may not seem like a softie on this blog (I don’t really know how I come across exactly), but I have a super soft, brie cheese of a heart when it comes to creatures, with a bit of a bias for furry ones. I don;t mind slimy creatures all that much, I try to make a point to pick up earthworms off the sidewalk while the skies are still gray after a good rain and throw them back into the grass so they don’t get fried. My co-worker/ partner in crime, Leroy, at the museum does the same(we partook in that very activity today, so I had to give this glorious human being a shout-out). Quick sidetracked note: Roy and I spent most of our day in the museum visitor center(I only work there 16 hrs/mo, ha) looking at old black and white high school class photos from the early decades of the 20th century on some photography collective on the internet. We debated over whom were the hottest people in the various classes, trying to eliminate the image of the shape they’re most likely in now (unless they asked to be cremated) out of our minds. It took up a not quite shamefully (but close), chunk of our day. It was a nice change from our usual routine of hanging out on peopleofwalmart.com and damnyouautocorrect.com for most of the day. Clearly we don’t get many visitors. I would immerse myself in the world of a good book, but considering I only work there twice a month, I’d rather get some quality time in with good ‘ol Roy. He talks to me about his wife and children and also reminisces on his younger years when he played in rock bands (which he still does but from an endearing matrimonial/ monogamous frame of mind) and felt super cool and had lots of one night stands. I tell him about my silly “love” life which usually consists of one or two people I’ve gone on a few dates with, held a brief infatuation for, and then broke things off with because I have commitment/intimacy issues like nobody’s business, and well, because it’s just hard for me to sacrifice my precious alone time for another person. I also find it difficult to like people enough to see them in a romantic light. Gah, I’m terrible. Roy is great with advice and telling it like it is, rather than saying what he thinks I’ll wanna hear. He somehow manages to carry a tone of loving, almost paternal concern and genuine kindness in his criticisms of my miniature melodramas/ occasionally sappy real-life soap opera tales (that’s about as personal as this thing is gonna get, dear reader, though I do plan to write rather bluntly about my abnormal views on monogamy and other socially constructed norms at some point).
Wow! Back to the cat. Well Kenny’s wife, aka Christine brought in this precious little being and I instantly fell in love. She asked me if I could take it because she couldn’t keep it. She said it kept hanging around outside of her house and every time her pet cat, a strictly indoors kitty, saw the other cat he’d dart straight into the window to try to chase him. So apparently her cat was performing unintentionally suicidal acts due to the presence of this adorable kitty, and Christine simply couldn’t keep him.
I have a pet cat already. His name is Percy and he’s the cleverest little douche bag you’ll ever meet. My parents take care of him because he was beating up all the neighbors cats in my neighborhood here in Asheville and when I tried to keep him strictly indoors he started yanking out patches of his fur and developed “kitty depression.” The vet suggested some sort of feline Prozac, but I declined and my mom and dad agreed to take him in. I felt like a rebellious daughter who got knocked up young and had no maternal instincts/ was terribly irresponsible and had to thrust my baby on its grandparents so that I could go about my youthful existence burden-free (is it a wee bit obvious that I’m pro-choice?). However it’s worked out alright. Percy and my dad have developed such a strong bond that my mom swears he loves the cat more than her. In fact one time when I stated that I was planning to take Percy back whenever I moved to a new place my dad responded with “well you know Zanie, there are plenty of other cats out there for you to adopt.” My dad is a bit of a stoic, so it’s pretty darn priceless to see this bond in action when I visit home. Spring gets a little intense though. My mom is a deeply sensitive soul and my cat is a psycho killer (Qu'est-ce que c'est fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better Run run run run run run run away). He kills everything from baby bunnies to locusts and brings them to the back door as presents (if he doesn’t decide to eat them whole, which he sometimes does unlike most other cats I know). I think he’s just trying to court my mother because he senses a certain level of aversion even in her stroking motions on his coat. He wants to win her affections but she just cries and gets grossed out by loose rodent guts and whatnot. Actually as of recently I think she’s grown fonder of him.
Well I told Christine that if she thought the cat could be almost entirely an outdoor cat (my roommate has pet rats and were technically not s’posed to have non-caged animals in our place)I could take him. She said that that was totally fine so the cat hung out with me in the laundry room until the end of my shift and then I took him home. This cat was the most affectionate, adorable cat I’d ever met. I was sooo ecstatic. Well my friend Cara brought some food over for it and we played with him for a good while. I thought of naming him Mooshkuh, just a made up name, wasn't up for figuring out a clever literary figure name or something. I texted my Russian friend to make sure “mushka” didn’t mean anything vulgar in Russian, and she said it didn’t mean anything at all. Mooshkuh hung out inside for most of the night, then I let him out around 6am and he never came back. I was heartbroken. I felt extra bad when Christine informed me that she’d received 5 calls responded to her “found cat” ad. I probably re-lost an already lost beloved country family’s cat. And worse, he wasn’t neutered, so I’ve probably caused the stray cat population to increase with my carelessness
Honestly, I’m still pretty crushed about it. That was about 3 weeks ago. I still leave both wet and dry food out for him every day. I’ve been writing/reading at home a lot more ever since I quit my job as a means to save money (aka I make my own coffee). I do work at the kitchen table for hours every day and can see the bowls of food from the window. I now am feeding three stray cats, but not Mooshkuh. These feral cats are totally nervous and frightened easily, thus reiterating in my mind the fact that Mooshkuh clearly wasn’t a stray, just a pet that got lost. I still feed them even though I’m dying to pet them and can’t. Doesn’t exactly feel like a symbiotic relationship, considering they all just run away from me. Now I just leave them alone and watch them come and eat individually, first the black and white cat, then the jet black cat, then the brown striped mini bob cat kitty. Guess I should start naming them. I do get a peace of mind from watching them chow down.