The first forty years of my life were cat-free. Until then, I wouldn’t have even noticed when a cat crossed my path.
Until one day, I came across a kitten in the street. It was late at night, the kitten was in danger.
As I passed, I noticed that he kept his eyes on a group of wheely-bins where a tom cat waited to dart out and attack. The tom cat’s family meandered around the street as if waiting for the show to begin.
When the kitten saw me, he tried to wedge himself between my boots for protection. This made me stop and take notice. I made space for him and he shoved his tiny body between my boots. I looked down and noticed the top of his motor-oily head.
I felt his shoulders shrug and twitch as he attempted to make himself disappear between my feet. His body trembled, he was on full alert as he watched everything that moved in front of him.
I’d clearly already taken sides in the scenario. A street wise tom cat protecting his family with the brutality of natural instinct, and a small bundle of messy fur with big eyes that reflected the street lamps made my mind up; I was rooting for the little one — and I was sure he’d win the day. He now had me on his side.
Two strangers, from two different paths of life. No matter the difference in species, when strong and vulnerable paths cross, take responsibility and do the right thing.
So now there was a kitten, an alpha tom cat, and a man, all standing on a dark street watching to see who makes the first move. They were all three strangers.
The Boss Tom kept an eye on everything that went down in his territory. He didn’t like a stranger trying to join his well organised family, so he sent warnings to the kitten.
The kitten, maybe feeling a little safer with me, stepped back out into the street. He turned, sat down, and stared up at me. His eyes squinted, and his whiskers spread out as if he was expressing a moment of joy.
Like shots across the ship’s bow, the tom cat ran at the kitten and as he passed he rammed his shoulder into the kitten’s back. The kitten fell, legs and arms akimbo, then quickly up righted itself, he cried loudly and again looked up at me. His face had changed from a moment of joy to total fear.
He was ragged with tufts of oily hair, probably only six weeks old, and he was in danger of being killed by the tough looking tom cat who ruled this street.
This family of cats had one large tom who was Boss. Two smaller tom cats were about a year old, and were still being schooled. They watched as Boss Tom made his passes, shouldering into the kitten, knocking him down, each pass became harder and more violent.
The rest of the family, about ten or twelve, shifted around the lampposts and hedges waiting to see what would happen.
The smaller tom cats followed through with feigned passes, as if trying to scare the little one with their presence. Testing their own prowess in the field.
On my side, the kitten huddled into the area between my ankles. He kept looking up at me, the street lights caught his blue eyes. Two orbs that reflected intelligence, wishes and desires, and big hopes that life could be better than the present moment.
And it seemed that I was there not by accident.
It was midnight. A warm spring night, I had only wanted to walk and clear my thoughts. Trying to get to grips with future plans.
I hadn’t thought about taking a kitten home, but those eyes told me everything. Like a realisation of destiny. It occurred to me that a new friend would be a blessing in my life. A plan that would work well, me and a kitten that would one day grow up into a purring, or hissing, annoying lovely tom cat. And I would tell my partner all about it when she wakes in the morning to find a fluffy little panther plodding about the flat.
I picked up the kitten, he was light and easy to hold. He was healthy, apart from his motor oily fur, somebody had kept him for a couple of days, then dumped him among street cats.
I tucked him into my wool jacket. He rearranged himself so he could watch the street ahead as we carried on our evening walk together. Every so often, he’d look up and meow gently, his whiskers sprayed outwards and his light blue eyes smiled at me.
The street cats milled about on the corner and watched as we both disappear into a side street.
We had a wonderful relationship over the years, like two blokes hanging out together, arguing with each other, making up — always knowing that we are best buddies forever.
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