Have I ever mentioned that I’m a crazy cat lady? Well, the cat’s out of the bag now. I’m in love with anything feline. Since I was a little girl, I have loved the beautiful fur-balls. Before my parent’s divorce, I was raised eight miles outside of Chadron. The place was a wellspring of cats and kittens. I never had to go without a new edition to the family. My mother–who had a hard time saying no to a little girl with a kitten in her arms–allowed the numerous “adoptions.”
Moving into town was a different story. On Main street, it was very difficult to find a kitten wandering alone. On the rare occasion that one of my five siblings happened upon such a rare scene, my mom would grudgingly oblige. I grew up with soft coats cuddling me to sleep. I cried my tears into their endless fur. Their purrs could match my heartbeat and fill all the spaces inbetween.
I married a man who does not like cats. I practically had to beg for Miko (my cat from home) to make the move to our apartment. A pretty convincing puppy-dog face, paired with the fact that Zach is a softy, brought Miko home. So all three of us settled into our routine. Miko is allowed on the couches. He can sit under the TV, but not next to it or behind it. Zach and Miko don’t mingle very often, and they definitely don’t cuddle.
A couple of nights ago, I went on my second run of the day. (Yes, that does sound crazy. I just listen to my coaches). I feel one run a day is enough, but I’ll go along with with two. After I clocked out of work, I changed out of my work shoes and put on my trainers. I’m a creature of habit, and so I ran to Main and began making my way to the dirt roads. I was just passing the softball fields, nearing the three dirt roads that converge on the very end of the pavement. I saw a cluster of objects in the middle of the road from a distance. Confused, I continued forward until I was close enough the see that the group was actually a pack of cats and kittens.
When they heard my footsteps, they darted into the grasses on both sides of the road. All except one tiny little kitten. I don’t know about anyone else, but whenever I’ve approached potentially feral felines, they tend to run away. The beautiful orange and white colored cat only looked at me curiously. Judging by the fact that he was orange, I immediately assumed he was male. Cautiously, but curiously. I crouched down and extended my hand. The little guy sniffed, decided I was nonthreatening, and continued his chase of a beetle. I followed him as he tracked the insect and when he was focused, I began to stroke his back. He didn’t recoil or jump. A good sign.
I pulled my phone out of my sports bra and made a phone call.
“What’s up?” Zach asked curiously. (I was only in the middle of my run.)
“Don’t be mad,” I tried to sound as guiltless as possible.
“What?” I could hear potential dread in his voice.
“So I found a kitten. And he’s really cute and sweet. He’s all alone over here, and I don’t think he has an owner. He was pretty skinny when I touched him. Come pick me up. I’m at the very end of North Main.”
“Why would you need me to pick me up?” He already knew the answer before he asked. Maybe he had hoped I wouldn’t be as stubborn as I usually am.
“Well, I was hoping we could keep him. All the other cats he was with ran away. I really feel like we’re supposed to keep him. He’s not even afraid of me.
“Nicky. Are you really sure you want another cat? Really think about this before you answer. Are you sure we can keep another cat?”
“Zach, he’s all alone. I want to keep him. Come on, you’ll love him.”
After quite the pause, I heard keys fiddling through the other end. He was coming to get me. Great! Now, how was I going to grab the little kitten. I’ve always been taught never to grab a stray animal. Even if the cat was gentle now, how would be feel when he was suddenly being snatched up? If he did scratch me and it broke skin, I could catch something. I tossed around options. I could just grab him. I wasn’t at all excited for the possible outcome of that one. I could wait until Zach pulled up and grab a towel that I knew was in the car. What if he ran away because the car startled him? No good. I could take off my shirt. It was dark outside. No one would see… in theory. I settled onto that option. I would take off my shirt and use that to grab him.
I saw headlights getting closer and closer. Figuring that was Zach, I worked my shirt off quietly, swooped it over the kitten, and picked him up gently. My guess was right, Zach pulled up to me a few seconds later. I pulled opened the door, and opened up my shirt to reveal the cutest kitten I have ever seen. We took him home, and named him Oliver.
Now I’m one cat away from my limit given by Zach. (Don’t tell him, but my line is six. Or seven.) Oliver is now in our family of four. His purr resounds into my chest, matching the heartbeats and filling all the spaces in between.