Sitting by my car when I left for work this morning was a small orange-and-white kitten. My first instinct was to blink and hope that, when I opened my eyes, it would be gone. Jamie and Lee-Roy just found homes for five stray kittens, and a couple of years ago I helped rescue a cocker spaniel that was nicked by an SUV, so I am familiar with the rewards and troubles of animal rescue. I knew what my second instinct would be—capture and snuggle—and I was hoping to avoid it.
This little guy/girl looked up at me with its one good eye. The other was swollen and pussy, and there was a long gash running along the side of its body. This kitten was clearly going to have a lot of tough childhood experiences to tell its therapist about someday.
The minute I made a move, it took off running—pretty damn fast for a creature with a gash and an oozy eye. First to the tool shed, then past the other parked cars in our parking area, then into the tangle of ivy that runs alongside the driveway. My neighbor’s girlfriend pulled up just about then. She said she saw the kitten dart past her, “but cats are hard,” she added. She was wearing pajamas and carrying coffee. “I hope it’s okay,” she said as she continued toward her man’s apartment. I felt like she wasn’t really hoping that hard.
I waited a little while, and poked at the ivy, but this cat already had too many street smarts to talk to strangers. I left some food and water out, and headed to work.
My neighborhood is full of strays: packs of big dogs, packs of miniature dogs, all sorts of skinny cats. It seems weird to single out one of them to save. (Have you seen Casa de los Babys? It’s a great movie about fate.) Am I hoping I can rescue this gatito because it’s little? Hurting? Long-haired? So I remind myself: It’s good to save animals, whatever the reason; turn off your too-loud brain and get out the cat carrier.