It was another busy day at the shelter. I tried to hide in the most distant corner of my cage. You know, just to make myself invisible. That’s when I heard a voice.
“This one! Mommy, I want this cat.”
I instantly froze. I took a look to make sure the person standing in front of my cage was talking about me. To my horror, I realized, she was. A young girl with an oval face and two coal-black eyes was pointing at me. She was maybe thirteen-years old. Then, I heard another voice.
“Jenna, are you sure? You wanted a kitten. Also, this is a black cat. Didn’t you want an orange one?”
This voice belonged to another human who just came in my view. It was a woman with a head of black hair sticking out in all directions and a large body frame. She looked so big to me. I wasn’t sure, I liked either one of them. With my previous life experience, I was better off here, in the shelter than anywhere else. Especially children were the ones I didn’t like. I remember my tail yanked by a little one in the past. So, I decided to look as invisible as I could. Maybe, they would give up.
“Can we open the cage and play with that black cat?” the large woman demanded. I saw a shelter volunteer with her keys opening my cage and soon enough the girl reached inside my cage to find me. I wanted to hiss but to my surprise, no sound came out.
“She is a veteran,” a shelter volunteer said to the large woman who was now observing me carefully. “She’s been with us since she was about a year old, and, now, Alice is three. She tends to be shy and would need a good home to show her true loving self.”
I was shocked! I never considered myself a loving cat. This woman must have not known I was anything but cuddly and cute. I didn’t purr, and I was not for you if you wanted that warm fuzzy ball of a cat in your lap. So, I gazed at her intently to make her go away.
The girl’s hand was not what I expected it to be. It was gentle and slow. She didn’t try to poke me and make sudden moves. It was warm and soft, but at the same time, it knew what it wanted.
Was I supposed to attack it or ignore it? I decided to wait and see what her intentions were. Then, I heard her voice. It was a deep, back-of-a-throat voice with a rasp and a velvety feel to it. She said, “Alice,” and that totally got me off my guard. I was a melting, gooey pile of cat-jelly yearning to be enveloped in this voice forever. As she poked my head softly with her fingers, I locked my eyes with her for a moment.
“Mommy, I want her. I think Alice is the right cat for us,” the girl announced. I was caught totally off guard. This decision sounded premature to me. I needed more time.
It felt like a whirlwind of events. I was lifted, moved into a box that was made out of plastic, and then placed in a bigger box that seemed to be moving fast. After what felt a ride from hell, my plastic cage was picked up again and carried up the stairs. For a brief moment, I glimpsed the trees and the blue sky that I had already forgotten during my shelter existence.
She placed the box with me on an unmoving surface, which I welcomed with relief. Looking from the inside, I could see a carpet, houseplants and a big window. I also heard the chirping of the birds coming from a corner of the room. Were there birds here? Who knew birds could live inside the humans’ houses? Was this woman a patron of cats and birds? Then, she opened the box as if she expected I would actually come out. I didn’t.
“She might want to stay in the pet carrier for a while,” the woman’s voice came from across the room. “I am not surprised she is staying inside. We should give her plenty of time. But she will come out, eventually.”
I watched her from the safety of my box and resolved to not give her that satisfaction. Even though her voice and eyes were friendly, it was shocking to me someone could snatch a cat from the only place it knew. After all, she hasn’t asked my opinion on that matter. I waited for her to go to sleep that night to inspect her quarters. Yes, there were birds on the highest perch in their cage. They did not seem to be bothered by me. Were they so naïve not to understand I could snap them in an instant? I tried to open their cage but after the series of unsuccessful attempts, I realized they weren’t ignorant, as I had assumed but aware of the industrial strength of the iron bars separating them from me. I could swear, I saw a smirk of triumph in one of the birds’ eyes.
Unfazed, I walked away to examine the rest of the place. The woman was sleeping in her bed, her chest slowly moving up and down. I decided to let her sleep and look around more. I found the food she had left for me in the kitchen, and I ate some. I scrutinized each of the plants in the room and thought of using one as my bathroom but decided against it. Before the dawn, I resolved to hide the best I could to trick them.
In the morning, the girl was looking for me. It was entertaining to watch her futile efforts while I was deeply seated under the couch with my tail lodged in the darkest corner. Yet, I clearly underestimated her intelligence. She brought a flashlight and finally spotted me.
Then, again I heard her voice. There was some warmth in the timbre, something irresistible. I can’t quite place my paw on what it was that had captivated me so much that I chose to respond to her hand. She extended her hand to pat my back, under the couch, and I didn’t protest. Against my own resolve, I liked it. And then something even more incredible happened; I heard a sound coming as if from the inside of my body. A sound that I have never heard before or known I was capable of producing. It was a deep seductive vibration emerging from the depths of my being.
“There she is!” Exclaimed the girl. “She is purring! Mom, I knew she would like us. I only wish we could see her better.”
“I have no doubt she will be playing with you in no time, “the woman remarked lifting her eyes for a moment from her computer screen.
~ ~ ~
Three months later, I was again in the plastic box that was placed in a fast-moving bigger box. Now, I knew it was called a car. We were going back to where I had come from. The shelter. The girl and the woman didn’t quite appreciate the fact that I never had left the space under the couch. That’s true, I stayed there for the entire three months. Of course, at night, I inspected every inch of their small apartment, but during the day, I stayed put in the dark, cozy depths of my hiding place. I just couldn’t trust anyone. Even though my wish to be in the shelter was coming through, I really didn’t feel that happy anymore. I was confused.