This isn’t my first ride through a hurricane.
I’m going to be fine.
It’s this kitten that adopted me several weeks ago that I’m worried about.
My neighbor moved to New Orleans a couple of months ago and left it behind.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The poor baby doesn’t appear to have a feral bone in its body. Confused by the abandonment, my neighbor and I both tried to ignore the thing’s pitiful cries for food and comfort outside the apartment building.
I was resolute about not feeding that cat, knowing that if I did it would never leave. Well, I didn’t feed that cat and it still wouldn’t leave. The thing camped out alongside the building and only stopped crying to sleep.
Several days passed and I noticed it was walking with a limp after something, or maybe someone had kicked it in its side. The animal had lost a lot of weight and its frame was visible. The thing was starving.
I don’t particularly like cats. But I hate suffering even more. I went into the house and found a plastic dish. I poured milk in one section of the dish, because I always heard cats like milk. Then I looked in the refrigerator and decided to break into chunks the leftovers of one of those roasted, whole chickens that are always on sale at the Food Lion just up the street from where I live.
Despite its pronounced limp, the cat pretty much pounced on the dish as soon as I put it down on my porch.
It ate hungrily and lapped up the water. Then it looked up at me, mewed as if to say thank you and walked over to me, swirling around my legs.
Not good. I don’t like cats.
So, the next morning, I wake up, look out my door and the cat is on my front porch and whining up a storm, no pun intended, and walking back and forth to that dish.
Bad word, I thought to myself. I get dressed, get in my car and drive over to Wal-Mart, where I buy canned cat food and a bag of those Temptations cat treats. Because everybody likes a little dessert after their meals, right?
I made nice with the kitty, rubbed its head, talked nice to the thing; then I remembered I had a roll of black and orange yarn. Cats love to play with yarn, right?
Not this cat. It wouldn’t swipe a paw at the string, even when I dangled the thing in its face. The cat’s passive behavior got me to wondering if its experiences after being abandoned had left it traumatized. And that maybe, far from wanting to play and frolic like other kittens, it just needed a place to rest, eat, sleep and be cared for.
Poor baby, I thought to myself, while remembering the words to a Gregory Porter song, “No Love Dying,” and how the singer repaired the broken wing of a bird before it flew away.
A day or so passed before I noticed — smelled actually — the aggravating presence of cat poop in the front yard where she was relieving herself.
A string of bad words, I said aloud. Then I got into my car and drove to Wal-Mart, where I bought a bag of litter and a tray: her new toilet.
That cat used the thing several times. It was wonderful. I was so proud, I bought it another bag of treats. Then it went back to doing its business in the yard.
Another string of bad words. Now I mutter to myself each morning when I go outside to cover up cat leavings with kitty litter and scoop them up with a poop scoop I purchased at the pet store near my home.
Did I mention the entire time I’m muttering bad words and scooping up poop, the scrawny thing is mewing loudly about being hungry?
These are not “LOL” moments. These are my new “WTF?” mornings.
So I called the vet. It’s going to cost me $60 for a routine physical and a couple of hundred dollars for vaccines, and more to treat its injury.
I don’t have any doggone cat insurance, pun intended.
I texted my children. I told them how an abandoned kitten had adopted me and it was time to find the thing a no-kill shelter that would put it up for adoption.
I sent pictures of this creature reclining on my porch and videos of it swirling around my legs. It had begun sleeping underneath my favorite chair on the front porch. I sent pictures of that too.
“Oh Daddy, that kitty loves you,” Zuri exclaimed. “You have a pet!”
Oh boy. Yippee.
“You are doing the Lord’s work,” Niki intoned. “Name it Shadow.”
“Name it Midnight,” Alele advised after seeing pictures of kitty’s tortoise-shell coat and green eyes.
“Fatten it up so it looks like Garfield,” Imani told me after seeing its scrawny body.
I’m a single, middle-aged black man. I don’t like cats. One day I found the website of a local no-kill cat shelter. The agency was currently not accepting the things, although there were more than a few up for ready adoption.
I called my neighbor down in New Orleans. He seemed genuinely surprised animal control hadn’t picked the thing up after he called them. He told me the cat had been spayed and that it was female.
Oh, I thought to myself. So it’s a girl.
I don’t have the heart to take her to the pound. So, I’m kind of stuck with her for a little while.
I named her Sheba. She has pretty green eyes and looks rather regal at times, but mostly tentative and unsure of herself.
“She’s a princess!” my friend Alex texted me after seeing Sheba’s pictures. “She’s precious! You should keep her!”
I was looking for one of those fancy-schmancy kitty beds so that Sheba would have a comfy place to sleep and rest, until I took her to to the vet and felt like I could take her inside, when news of Hurricane Florence started dominating the news.
String of bad words again. Like I said, I can take care of me during a storm, but what about this cat, who I have named Sheba? (Her middle name is Shadow. Her last name is Midnight.)
So, I am borrowing my sister’s dog Chico’s cage. That way Sheba can stay inside during the storm. My sister is even throwing in a kennel just in case I have to leave my house in the likely event of a power outage.
I already have her an extra bag of Meow Mix and shrimp-flavored treats. I gotta buy another bag of litter.
Who knew pet preparation for a life-threatening storm could be so worrisome?
I don’t even like cats.
Disaster Preparedness For Your Pets
Step 1: Get a “rescue alert sticker” to let people know that pets are inside your home.
Step 2: Arrange a safe haven for your pets in case you need to evacuate. Don’t leave your pets behind. Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets.
Step 3: Choose a temporary caregiver, preferably someone who lives close to your residence.
Step 4: Prepare a kit full of emergency pet supplies.
Step 5: Download the free ASPCA mobile app for more advice on how to care for pets during a natural disaster.
Source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals