It was 4 in the morning in 2003 when I heard the sound of a distressed kitten outside. I jumped out of bed, put on my robe and opened the front door. There she was, a young grey tabby abandoned and alone. She tried to get into my apartment but I picked her up before she could do so.
Oh, so cute! I went outside and closed the door behind me. Settling on the stairs, I cuddled her for a time while she purred. She must belong to someone, I thought to myself. And she must be famished.
I set her down on the ground and went inside to get some tuna fish and Slim-Fast. Slim-Fast, you ask? I know! But I didn’t have any milk. (Gosh, what was I thinking?) I came out with her breakfast and she rushed to the plate of tuna. She was ravenous.
I just sat there, watching. As she was crouched down eating, purring the whole time, she kept looking back at me as if she were afraid I’d leave her. She wasn’t touching the Slim-Fast at all so I quietly slipped away to get her some water. (Why I didn’t think of that before, I don’t know.) She noticed I was leaving and ran at my feet before I could close the door. I gently pushed her away and went inside. She cried desperately. I soon came out with the water, and went back inside to get dressed and make myself some coffee.
This Kitten Tugged at my Heart
The whole time I was inside she kept crying deeply from her throat. It was painful to hear. Once the coffee finished brewing and I poured myself a cup, I went back outside and sat on the stairs facing the clear blue sky above the trees. She ran to my feet, climbed up my pant leg, crawled onto my lap and then to my shoulder and settled in. So there we sat. She purred softly as the sun was coming up.
“A kitten is the delight of a household. All day long a comedy is played out by an incomparable actor.” ~Champfleury, The Cat Past and Present
Briefly that year I was a volunteer at the SPCA taking care of cats who were up for adoption. Kittens are the first to find homes. Why not take her there? I would have taken her in myself but I just couldn’t afford to keep her. So I took Precious, as I called her, and hopped into my car and headed for the SPCA. She could stay there until the owners could be found or until she was adopted, whichever came first.
Once we took off, she crawled onto my shoulder again and would purr the whole time. She wasn’t afraid or nervous of the car ride in the least. We arrived and went inside. Some of the other animals in the line frightened Precious and she fought to get loose. We finally made it to the counter and the folks there at the SPCA checked her in. I left to go home. When I got there, I put up flyers in the neighborhood hoping to find the owners.
In Search for Precious
A week later, I went to work at the SPCA and looked all over for her. No one seemed to know what tabby kitten I was looking for. I thought perhaps she got adopted. Great! To be sure, I went to the vet’s office and asked them to look her up in the computer. I had the number they gave me when I brought her in. Finally. There she was in the computer system. But I was sickened at the news! She was in the freezer.
As I was driving home I wept in disbelief and horror. How could this have happened? They told me she was two weeks too young to be adopted. It was shocking. And as it turned out, there wouldn’t be any responses to the flyers I posted.
“No hour is ever eternity, but it has its right to weep.” ~Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
They had warned us in orientation about euthanasia. They even showed us a video of some animals being put down which was agonizing to watch. But if only I had known she was too young I could have made a donation for her to stay. Two weeks is all. Needless to say, I never went back there to volunteer again.