I found out later that’s what the humans call what had happened to me.
I’d been neutered. The other cats are never going to take me seriously now.
It happened last week, and the lady who had trapped me and taken me to the vet told me that I’d be safe with her. I figured the effects of the sedative must have still been working on me at the time because I really wanted to believe her.
But it wore off, I got my wits about me again, and figured I was just being sentimental. For some reason.
I wandered around for a few days, but something strange seemed to have happened to me. The urge to fight and mark my territory and all that other macho stuff had gone away.
I was tired of being scared all the time. I was tired of being on my own.
My mom and siblings are gone and I’m alone, and I figure that’s how it’s supposed to be.
But one night when I couldn’t sleep – again – something in me wondered if it had to be this way.
“You can stay if you want,” she whispered. “You’ll be safe with me. I promise.”
It was her voice again. It seemed to echo in my mind. Could I really trust it?
Humans have shown me how awful they really are. The ones I’ve known really seemed to hate me. A lot.
I honestly didn’t do anything to them. They just didn’t want me around.
It’s mostly luck that has kept me alive for the last five years. I know I shouldn’t try pressing it now.
By the time the sun comes up, I wander nearer and nearer to the lady’s house. No particular reason. Just wandering.
I laugh at myself when I think of the infamous curiosity and what it did to the cat. It would serve me right if it turns out to be true in my case.
I peek around the corner of her front porch and she’s there with a bowl and some food, and a few other cats are around her.
My instincts tell me to just back away. She hasn’t seen me. None of the other cats have seen me (although I suspect they know I was there because I have that ability, too, but they don’t seem to care).
She has long, dark hair and soft-looking clothes. And there’s a soothing sound coming from her. She’s humming, maybe singing, it’s difficult to tell. Sounds almost like a purr – like my mom would do when we had all been together.
Man, I’m getting maudlin in my old age. It’ll probably be the death of me. Literally.
She stands up from filling the bowl and makes eye contact with me.
Darn it. I’d waited too long to get out of here.
Her entire face softens when she sees me. She says, “Hi, there. I was hoping I’d see you again. You feeling OK?”
My chest goes warm at the words and the tone, and my God I have never wanted to trust something more in my life. I’m actually shaking with it – the want, the need.
“It’s OK,” she whispers. “You take your time. You look pretty good. Get yourself some breakfast and I’ll be back out to see how you’re doing.”
She heads inside and the other cats have left a little in the bowl, so I sneak over and get something to eat. There’s a shrub by her steps and I settle in underneath it just to see if she really will be back.
True to her word, she walks outside a little while later and I hear her say, “I see you down there. Thought you could trick me, huh? Well, I’ve had cats all my life, and you’ll have to get up pretty early in the morning to get something by me.”
She chuckles. It’s an almost affectionate sound. She says all that as she’s collecting the now empty bowls.
She pulls open the screen door and holds it for a second or two when she says, “I know it’s way too early for us, but you can come inside if you’d like sometime. You’ve had a rough life. The vet told me so when she neutered you. I’ve got other cats inside with me, but they won’t bug you. I think you might like to see what it’s like with someone who would never hurt you. Ever.”
Why am I even listening to this? Why am I even considering it? Am I crazy? Did they take my brain, too, when they neutered me?
I’m still in the shrubs by the time the sun sets, and when she offers the open door again with the same kind words and sweet tone, I take a chance.
The biggest of my life.
I walk through the open door.
Five days later, I have my own blanket and food and water every day, and the first time a human touches me, not to chase me away, but to cherish me, I cry a little.
I never thought this kind of joy and contentment and love was meant for me.
I’m glad to say I was wrong.
Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, and can be reached at: email@example.com. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at: (717) 263-5791, or visit the website: www.cvas-pets.org. CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.