Dec 1, 2010

HERE, KITTEN- KITTEN, a short story by Elaine Faber


A TRUE STORY

        She was a feral cat, living in the bushes next to my work site. She finally came to me, knowing there would be food when she heard my voice. Her tummy swelled as the weeks passed.

        One day, mama cat was skinny and I knew her kittens had been born. The weeks passed and I thought daily, ”Today we will see the kittens,” but the day passed without a glimpse of them and I gave up hope, thinking they must have died.

        And then one day we saw them, three skinny little waifs, two with sticky eyes, the third with one eye completely closed with infection. I fetched a cardboard box and made a bed with a towel. I crawled beneath the bushes without regard for my work clothes and tried to catch them.

        “Here kitten, kitten,” I called, and the rose-colored kitten came to me. I placed her in the box and went back for the other two.

        “Here, kitten, kitten.” If only they knew how different their lives would be if they would let me catch them. Furry mice -- three meals a day -- immunizations to prevent all kinds of disease, -- no fleas or worms -- a bed to sleep in -- all awaited the three little balls of fur if I could just reach them.

        “Here, kitten, kitten,” and I had the tortoiseshell sister by the scruff of her neck. Time passed and the sound of insistent mewing from the kittens in the box grew louder. I crawled further into the bushes after the little black kitten.

        He wouldn’t let me catch him. I tried. Lord knows I tried, but as I made a final grab, my fingers felt only the tips of his black fur and he disappeared deep into the brambles. The cardboard box next to me trembled as the two kittens scratched toward the top edge, mewing in protest at this terrifying confinement. The black kitten would not come to me and I had to leave him behind.

        Two months passed and the rose-colored kitten and her tortoiseshell sister became familiar with my home, tame and accepting, frolicking up and down the cat pole, sprawled napping across my lap, kicking and fighting each other in mock battle. They curl their bodies together in slumber, filling a soft donut bed, with tummies full of kitten Friskies.

        I can’t stop thinking about the moment the black kitten ran from me. He couldn’t know that his decision would alter his life forever.

        He’s still there, they tell me, those who catch a glimpse of him from time to time. He’s a feral cat now, one of the untouchables that runs into the bushes at the sound of a human step, frightened and hungry.

        “Here kitten, kitten.” His sisters hear me call, stop their play and run to me. They reach up my leg, begging to be picked up, purring and rubbing their little heads into my hands. They don’t remember the day I left their brother behind. But I remember and it hurts me to think of him, alone, perhaps hungry, perhaps sick, never knowing the joy of a human touch.

        There is so much suffering in the world. I think of all the sick bodies that I cannot heal, the hungry mouths I cannot feed, the people living in oppression, I cannot free. I have no power to change these things. To me, this little cat is a tiny symbol of that suffering. He has a body I can heal, a mouth I could feed, a loving home I could provide. Here is something I should have the power to change and because I cannot do even this simple thing, I feel a terrible sense of personal failure.

        And so from time to time, I return to the work site. I crawl under the bushes and call, hoping each day, he will hear me. Please, Lord, let me change just one small injustice in this world.

        “Here kitten, kitten… here, kitten, kitten …please come to me.”


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Author Elaine Faber lives in Elk Grove, California and has just finished writing her first novel. She has also written several short stories, many of which are about cats. Regarding feral cat rescue, she says, "My daughter and I rescued 13 kittens in 2009 from the Kaiser Hospital from a pair of ferals. All went to good homes. The two mentioned above stayed with me, and two with my daughter. Finally the mom and dad cats (who were a committed married couple....go figure) were finally caught, neutered and returned to the Kaiser campus. They are fed by various employees."