“We need a cat,” I informed my boyfriend, Anthony, one evening as I sat on the couch doing my nails.
“Yeah, I know,” he responded disinterestedly, staring into the space realm of his video game on the computer. This wasn’t the first time I was lobbying for a cat. He just wasn’t a cat person. Yet. He didn’t get it, he couldn’t get it until he actually bonded with a cat himself.
We had already begun the cat hunt. I’d emailed a shelter, and we’d submitted forms at two local pet shops. I knew those places were busy, but the whole process was taking too long for me. I was getting anxious. I wanted a cat fast.
I opened up my Facebook App on my phone as I blew on my pink nails. As I scrolled through mindlessly, a picture of a litter of teeny tiny kittens caught my eye. Camila Stefani, a girl I hadn’t spoken to since high school, and even in high school I’d only interacted with a handful of times, had posted the picture. She had captioned it, “anyone want a kitten?”
Yes! I wanted a kitten. It must have been fate. I went on her profile and learned that she had found the litter about a month prior. She had posted pictures of them being bottle fed, bathed and sung to. I had to message her! But the thought of messaging her terrified me. Liking her pictures on social media was one thing, I did it all the time, but actually engaging in conversation was quite another. Asking her kindly to fulfill my undying wish to get a kitten was the biggest thing.
But I had to do it. I’d decided a long time ago that I never wanted to live in a catfree household ever again. I’d been doing it now for nearly 8 months. Enough was enough. So I took a deep breath and composed a message, as if it were perfectly normal for me to message a near stranger.
“Hey Camila!! How are you?! I saw your post about the kittens! They’re so cute! I was wondering if they’re possibly still available for adoption? Are there any males in the bunch?” There totally normal. I didn’t sound out of my comfort zone. I always spoke with that much exclamation, right? I nervously checked when she’d posted the latest picture. It’d been just over an hour ago. There had to be at least one kitten left.
To my relief, she responded back almost instantly. The kittens were about 5 weeks old and all still available for adoption, except for two identical male tuxedo kittens that looked like cartoon cats. They’d been claimed immediately. That left two more female tuxedo kittens, a little fluffy cream coloured girl and an all black boy. I asked about their temperament, and she said that so far they were all really sweet. I liked the cream girl the best because she had the most unique look, but in my heart, I wanted a boy. With Burnsy and Zart, I’d only ever had male cats. I don’t do well with change. So the all black boy was ours. She had trouble getting a picture of him because he was so dark, he just photographed as a blob. I was okay with that.
We agreed to meet the Friday of that week after work. As we drove to her house in Bridgewood, I was trying hard not to get overly excited. I half expected to get there, and it would all be a bust. They would all be adopted. Or the little kitten would hiss at me, and I wouldn’t want him anymore. After living with Zart, I’d decided that I wanted my new baby to be sweet and cuddly, not mean and vengeful. Ant seemed a bit apprehensive about the whole thing too. He’d never lived with a pet, he didn’t know the joys he was in for. He was also a bit wary about the fact that over the years, I’d discovered I was deathly allergic to cats. That was just a minor detail to me.
We parked in front of her house and were greeted by her parents that were in the front yard pulling weeds. Camila came to the door. She looked exactly like I remembered her, despite the 10 year gap. She was holding a white cardboard box with all the kittens inside. They were the smallest kittens I’d ever seen! They were half asleep, snuggling together closely. She picked up the little black one and handed him to me. He looked up to me with sea blue eyes, and I fell in love. I knew he was the one.
I handed him to Ant. My 6’2 boyfriend looked absolutely terrified to be holding this tiny black cloud. It was adorable. Ant very cautiously tried to cradle him, while the cat lazily readjusted his position and nearly fell asleep in his arms right then and there. He rested his tiny chin against Ant’s arm, which looked monstrous in comparison to his minute body.
“Do you want to take him tonight?” Camila’s mom asked entering the front foyer of the house.
“Oh? Are they ready to go home now? I thought they were too young to be separated from their mom.” I said hesitantly. I hadn’t planned on taking him home so soon. I hadn’t planned on this actually working out. I had planned to keep looking. We didn’t have any supplies. We hadn’t kitten proofed the apartment. It was too soon. I had just wanted to meet him.
“They’re about six weeks,” Camila explained. I think they were a bit younger. “They started eating solid food on Wednesday, so they should be good to go.”
I looked at Ant. He shrugged, still holding our new family member. I could tell that he was committed. “We could come back tomorrow to get him. We can buy a carrier and supplies during the day.”
So, that’s how it happened. There was no more discussion about it. No more searching. In about 24 hours, we’d be the proud owners of a tiny baby kitty. We decided to name him Red, after one of Ant’s favourite musicians. Who says you can’t name a black cat Red?
We went to have dinner at my parents’ that night, since we were already in Bridgewood. We couldn’t stop talking about Red. I told my mom that the most beautiful cat in the litter, the little cream one, was still available for adoption. She suddenly remembered, “Uncle Carl is taking Maya to the Humane Society to get a kitten tomorrow too, maybe they’ll want her?”
Maya was my cousin who had been obsessed with Burnsy, and subsequently all cats, since she was a toddler. My uncle and aunt had gotten Maya a beautiful dog, but she still desperately wanted a cat too. My mom texted my uncle and asked if they wanted the cream kitten. He quickly replied that they did. The kitten looked like a character from Maya’s favourite book series. Perfect. I told Camila, and we arranged to meet them at her house the next day.
That next day was a complete blur. We somehow managed to go to the beach, have lunch, buy all of our cat essentials, and make it to Camila’s house for 7 o’clock. We met my uncle, aunt and Maya on the street, and we met Camila with her kittens and their mom, a black and white stray cat, on the porch. A few minutes after we arrived, another family approached behind us. They were there to take one of the remaining kittens. It was perfect timing.
Camila told us all about how the mom was a neighbourhood stray that was so friendly, she must have been a house cat at some point. She explained that the mom always relaxed on their porch, so they frequently left out food for her. She had been pregnant earlier in the year as well. Unfortunately by the time Camila realized she had given birth and went looking for the babies, she found the lifeless litter in the park. She teared a little as she told us how she buried those kittens in the same park. She tried to catch the mom to get her spayed, but the mom could not be caged. When she showed up pregnant again, they both took better precautions. She explained that the mom came to her house one day and lead her right to her kittens in the park. That’s how Camila had come into the custody of these little kittens. It was a remarkable story.
As the kittens played on the porch together one last time, their little personalities shone through. Red was definitely the most adventurous of the bunch. While the others clung to their mom, he kept trying to run off the porch. He was energetic and daring. Camila confirmed that Red had been a daredevil since the very first day.
The other couple took home one of the girl tuxedo kittens. My uncle, feeling bad that only one kitten would remain all alone, decided to take both the cream girl and the final kitten home. That made Camila so happy.
We took all three kittens to my parents’ house for dinner that night. There they played with Burnsy’s toys and said their final goodbyes to each other. Burnsy wasn’t interested in the kittens. He hid in the basement until my uncle left.
When Burnsy finally sauntered up the stairs, he probably didn’t realize that Red was still there. He stared at us, sitting on the couch, alarmed for a minute and then immediately pooped in his litter box, to show Red who’s boss. After a few more minutes of hesitation, Burnsy made a decision. He started licking Red on the head, officially welcoming him into the family.