Oh, my god! How did I forget to write about this??
Listen: One night last September, I was standing by my sliding glass door with Dante. We were gazing into the alley that borders my house. Dante does this every night, and sometimes, as a sort of bonding experience, I stand there and do it with him, the two of us silently waiting to see the nighttime animals out there. There are field mice who run through the grass by the fence . . . and every now and then you will see opossums and raccoons, and the black cat who lives next door who Dante hates for some reason. But on this night we saw something we had never seen in the alley before, which was a little tuxedo kitten that I would guess was nine or ten weeks old. The kitten was chasing moths and hopping around. I managed to take some pictures:
I slowly opened the front and went outside intending to Make Contact, but he quickly ducked into the opening between the two fences he’s standing next to in the photos. He poked his head out and looked at me. I figured he had probably gotten separated from his litter and had not been socialized with human beings. As I got closer, he retreated into the fence again. I shined a light inside and reached my hand in, but he hissed at me. I went back inside and filled a little plastic container with some emergency cat food I keep above the refrigerator for the strays who pass through the alley. Pushing Dante back to keep him from charging the kitten, I returned to the kitten’s den and left the food near the entrance. After that I let him be, and Dante and I watched him eat all the food from inside.
The kitten stuck around. Every day when I came home from work, it was waiting for me. Sometimes, if I was quiet, I could sneak up on it and watch it playing in the leaves in my backyard. But of course when I got closer, it hissed at me and ran into the opening in the fence. Still, I could tell it wanted to interact with me, or at least trusted me to some degree because I continued to feed it every day. It seemed to want to come over to me but it didn’t exactly know how to about doing this. This cat was a baby, and as everyone knows, babies don’t know how to do anything.
For some reason I decided it was a girl. I kept calling her “Babygirl”. Babygirl never left my backyard. She was always back there, or sleeping between the fences, or climbing trees and watching me from the branches. Before I went to bed, I would check on her to make sure she hadn’t run off or gotten attacked by raccoons or whatever. As long as she was in her little house, she seemed relatively safe . . . the opening was small, and there was an even smaller opening she crawled through to go sleep all the way in the back. But whenever I was away from her, I worried about her wellbeing.
I was so afraid that I’d wake up one day and she’d be gone forever, and then I’d always have to wonder what happened to her. I reckoned I had to find a way to catch her so I could socialize her before it was too late. After a certain point, if a cat gets old enough and has never been touched or held by a human, it is essentially feral. And see, Babygirl was an orphan, and cute, and all alone out there, and so I had to catch her and find her a home.
She was definitely lonely and wanted to befriend us. I noticed that when I was outside with Dante, Babygirl really wanted to come over and hang out with him, probably because he was the closest thing to a surrogate mother. She would try to approach him, but he would just sort of wander off and eat grass. Dante was totally indifferent to her existence. If you didn’t know this, adult cats don’t really give a shit about kittens. In fact they seem to despise them for reasons I can’t explain other than comparing my human equivalent experience to Dante’s, which is to say I don’t really like children either.
However! One day Dante and I went outside, and I saw Babygirl watching us from a tree connected to her fence. She was mewing and reaching out for Dante. This was in late October, so it was about to start getting cold and rainy, and Babygirl, who was a baby, would probably end up running away to escape the elements, or worse! I decided it was now or never. So with her up there making little kitten noises at us, I held Dante up to distract her. They smelled each other’s noses. Babygirl was really excited and Dante was apathetic and tried to worm his way out of my arms. In that moment I let Dante jump down from me, and I reached up and snatched Babygirl from the tree. She hissed once, and I held her close to my chest, and she put her head on my shoulder and immediately started purring. I took her inside. This was the last time Babygirl ever spent the night in my backyard.
I held Babygirl up to the light and inspected her. She had testicles. Babygirl was now Babyboy. Miraculously, Babyboy had no fleas, and he actually smelled pretty good.
In my room I had already made a nest of blankets for him, and set up a litter box, and food and water bowls, and so on. Hell . . . I even got the dude some toys. He was a little jumpy at first, but he wasn’t scared necessarily. He ran around my room purring and smelling everything.
He slept with me every night:
. . . and he loved Laura!!
I considered keeping him, but I knew Dante would resent me forever. I’m serious: Dante would never forgive me and would treat me differently if I had kept him. And so I put out a Babyboy APB. My friend Jen answered the call. She had had a tuxedo cat growing up, and so I guess you might say she has a sort of affinity for them. Jen picked Babyboy up the next day and took him back to San Francisco. After seeing a vet a few days later, she informed me that Babyboy, who she had since named Felix, had a clean bill of health, and had had all his vaccinations, and was happy and nice to her, and on and on.
Well!! It’s been a year since all this happened. Babyboy / Felix is an adult now. Jen regularly sends me pictures:
Lookit this freakin jerk! With his bat ears and his vampire teeth. As my friend Hali Palombo once said: cats are born retired. Dude lives on like the tenth floor of a high-rise in San Francisco. All he does is sleep and hang out with Jen. Apparently when she’s eating dinner, he sits in an open chair at the table and waits for her to finish.
Anyway I’m glad Babyboy / Felix, the orphaned tuxedo cat who used to live in my backyard, is safe and lazy and happy. He could just as easily have disappeared or been eaten by a raccoon, but I saved him, and so now I get to go to Heaven.
IN CONCLUSION: Animals are perfect. I love them. I love you, Babyboy. Be good!!