Like so many conversations that ultimately lead me down the garden path, this one started out as a benign chat with a close friend about her visit to the veterinarian’s office earlier that day.
She had taken her cat for his annual check-up, and was pleased that he’d lost a half-pound since his last weigh-in. He’d been given treatment for the fleas he picked up when he absconded one evening and spent the night outside.
But, what she really wanted to talk about was the big cage that was sitting in the lobby of Dr. Carla Hernas’ office.
It was a swarm with a litter of kittens. One of them caught her eye, and a staffer asked if she’d like to hold it. She said she was touched by its coloring and its beautiful green eyes, and that the kitten had curled up against her breast and begun purring gently.
Not being a complete dolt, by now I knew where the conversation was headed. She asked the question. “Wouldn’t your son like to adopt a kitten?”
My son is a full-time college student who lives with me. This might surprise you, but his attitude about cats is total indifference. What she didn’t ask was the real question. “Wouldn’t YOU like to adopt a kitten?”
And my answer would be no. I don’t dislike cats. I’ve had a number of them — or maybe “had” isn’t the right word. Cat fanciers will understand when I say you never really own a cat. They simply allow you to feed them and give them shelter. So let’s say a number of cats have shared my home over the years.
But I’ve been pet free since 2007 when Betty, my Jack Russell terrier, died, and I’ve not been looking.
Pets take commitment, and if you’re not willing to accept that, it’s unfair to the animal.
I never got to say any of those things, however. My friend told me she’d already discussed the idea of a new kitten with my son and he was agreeable — even enthusiastic. All I could say was “Really?”
She said she wanted this kitten to have a good home, but with a cat and dog of her own, she wasn’t in a position to offer hers. She told my son, who is a typical income-free student, that she would take care of the vet’s bills if he wanted to adopt the kitten.
I told her I wanted to talk to my son before making any commitment. She thought that was a good idea and suggested we go see the kitten the next day. I agreed. (Why, I wondered, do I keep hearing in my head the theme to “The Sting”?)
I had a brief conversation with my son who professed no real interest in a kitten, but there was something about his tone that left me unconvinced.
The next day we drove over to Dr. Hernas’ place. Without any prompting, I spotted the kitten in question.
She’s a beautiful blue-cream tortoiseshell or “tortie,” with amazingly green eyes. “Do you want to hold her?” my friend asked, and I heard the sound of a steel trap snapping shut.
My friend is picking up the kitten sometime today while I’m at the office. We shopped for a litter box and other cat needs over the weekend, and all is ready for the new arrival.
The only thing lacking now is a name, and I’m leaving that to my son.
He’s leaning toward “Salami,” which to me is silly and totally inappropriate so it probably will stick.
Irv Dean is the Gazette's city editor. Reach him by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.