The grey tabby made his way through a dark alley, in search of food. He searched everywhere, even in the garbage cans, but did not find anything worth his appetite. He continued on until he reached the other end of the alley-way, and was at awe when he saw a meat market across the street. His mouth began to water from the aura of the meat drifting his way. He then strolled over to the back of the market, because he knew that sometimes scraps of meat get thrown out for other animals nearby. He knows this, because he has seen it before at another market he had seen a long time ago, when he was a kitten. Suddenly, he heard a male voice, and a screen door opened, but the grey tabby ran behind the largest tree he could find, and hid in fear. As he listened, he slowly decided to be brave, and take a peek.
The tabby watched in silence as a thin balding man, stepped out with a large green bin in hand. At the moment the tabby ducked behind the tree and accidently stepped on a twig that snapped. He shut his eye for a moment, and hoped the man did not hear. He peaked out again, but then the man was gone. Perhaps back into the market. He was about to come out of hiding when he heard the screen door open again. He stood standing still as he continued to peek. The man was now laying some scraps of meat in a little bowl. “Hello, little kitty, I know you are out there behind that tree. I saw your tail sticking out, and I can still see it,” called the man, with a kind smile upon his face.
The tabby then glanced behind him, and saw that his tail was sticking out for everyone to see, and blushed as he slowly came out from hiding.
“There you are. I have some meat here for you - all cut up in little kitty pieces.” The man paused for a moment as he waited for the orange tabby to walk over to the food, and then added. “Come on, don’t be shy. It’s safe.”
The tabby then walked over in caution, hoping that this wasn’t some trick to cause harm to him. When he got to the food, he sniffed it first, and looked up at the man.
“Go on, it’s alright.”
Once the tabby was done gobbling up the food, until the bowl was licked clean; the man slowly bent down to stroke the orange fur, and smiled as the young cat licked his lips in satisfaction. The tabby then began to purr with contentment as he rubbed his scent against the man’s hand, as the man continued to stroke his fur to the base of his tail.
“Well, I could see that you enjoyed that,” said the man, still smiling, but as he was about to pick up the tabby, the poor thing got so scared, that he wiggled himself, jumped right out of the man’s arms, and ran into the bushes.
The tabby kept running, until he reached the alley, and found his resting spot, he thought about the man that tried to pick him up, and thought out loud, “Sure the man seems nice enough, but I need to be cautious, especially after that cigarette man who tried to burn me his cigarette the other day.”
He remembered like it was just yesterday, when the horrible man picked him up. He didn’t even hear the man approaching, until it was too late. The man was holding a cigarette between his fingers, and holding the tabby in his right arm. He soon felt a sting on his fur, and a burning smell. It hurt so much. He finally wiggled his little body just after he bit the man’s hand, before he jumped out of the man’s hand as fast as his little four legs can take him. He heard the man scream in pain, and yelled. The man then began to chase after him, but the tabby outran him, and made it across the street before five cars and a truck drove by. By that point the tabby was able to hide behind some bushes as he waited for the man to give up, and walk away.
When he felt it was completely safe, he cautiously stepped out into the open. The grey tabby was so relieved that the man was gone, and hoped he would never return. He was afraid that the man would have done more horrible things to him, and if he hadn’t escaped, it would have been too late for him. The burns had hurt so much that he tried to soothe them, by grooming the pain away. The pain grew less and less after a couple of days, but did not completely diminish.
For the last two nights he’s been sleeping inside an open vent, behind an old building. Of course it wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it was something he was used to by now; ever since he was a young kit. He then jumped into the vent, and curled up to rest, but then, he heard footsteps entering the alley. The grey kitty prayed it wasn’t the cigarette man searching for him. As he grabbed a peak from inside the vent, he stayed quite still, and waited. He was relieved when he saw an aging woman come into view. She was holding a basket in one hand and a cane in the other.
“Whew, it’s not the smoking man. Boy am I glad,” he thought.
He watched as the woman laid the basket down behind a garbage dump, and he thought he heard some tiny meows, as she did so. When the woman left, and he was absolutely sure she was gone, he strolled over to the basket and looked inside. There in the basket were four tiny kittens, two black and white, and the other two were all black; it seemed as if they were recently taken from their mother, because they appeared to be too young to fend for themselves. He wondered why the old woman would leave such young and helpless kittens in the alley, and just walk away as if they were disposables. He knew that they wouldn’t survive on their own, and had to figure out quickly what to do.
As he groomed each one, as to let them know that they will be okay, he then heard a soft female voice behind him. When he turned, he saw a white cat standing before him. That’s funny, how come I didn’t hear her? That is not a good sign, he thought. When he noticed the cat looking into the basket, he told her what just happened, as she searched for a comfortable spot to lie on. She then asked him to set the kittens near her for them to suckle. “Luckily for the kittens she showed up when she did,” he thought with relief. While the tiny kits fed, she began to speak with a soft sweet voice.
“Some humans are not very nice at all. I should know, I recently ran into a few, myself. One man tried to trick me, and burn me with his cigarette, but I was able to take flight before he came any closer.”
“Yes, I know, you never to who to trust, when you are a stray.”
He then noticed the white feline looking at him in a strange way, and asked.
“Why are you looking at me like that?
“You don’t appear to be in the best of shape, especially when you didn’t hear me coming. Someone could have grabbed you by now, before it was too late.”
“Yes I know. I was wondering why I didn’t hear you coming, and I wondered why I didn’t hear the man who picked me up the other day, tried to burn me. It was not too long ago that happened. I know now, that something is definitely wrong with my hearing. It must have been when I fell in the cold lake, a few days ago.”
“You just mentioned a man with a cigarette. Could it be the same one, I ran into? What does he look like?”
“I think he had dark hair and a scar on his face. That’s all I remember.”
“I think he could be the same one. The one I ran into also had dark hair and a scar.
The white cat then explained her experience with the cigarette man, who tried to burn her yesterday.
“I heard him say, come cat, let see what happens when I stick this cigarette on you, and before he can grab me, I ran as fast as my legs can take me. I was so scared, especially when I heard him laugh horribly, as he chased me. I was so thankful he never caught up to me.”
“Well, let’s just hope we don’t run into him again. He was a scary man.”
By this time the kittens were done with their feeding, and were now fast asleep. The white cat curled her body around them to keep them warm, since it was night and it was quite chilly.
“It looks like that man got you pretty bad. I can see the burn scars all over your fur. I’m so sorry for what he did to you. It really saddens me to see how humans can be so cruel, but I do know that there are some nice ones too. Just yesterday after I escaped that terrible man, and ran across the street from the park a woman was sitting on a bench eating in front of a building. She then called me over when she saw me being chased by the man, but I didn’t go. I was too scared. I think she wanted to help me though, but I wasn’t quite sure. I went to hide behind a building nearby and peered out as she called to me. By this time the man was nowhere to be seen, and then I saw her go into a building coming back out with a can in one hand and a spoon in the other. She then opened can and laid it on the ground. When she got tired calling me, she walked away. That was when I walked towards the can and realized that it was tuna. It tasted so good that I finished it in no time. Then the woman showed up again walking slowly towards me, but I ran.”
The grey kitty listened in to her story, and told her about the nice man who gave him some food, earlier that day.
“Maybe, just maybe, he was trying to help me too. After all, he did give me food, but when he was about to pick me up, I instantly thought about the cigarette man, and got scared.”
“I don’t blame you. I would have done the same.” She paused for a moment and shuddered at the thought of the cigarette man, but quickly pushed thought aside, and started thinking about the kittens. “Well, we need to figure out, what to do next with these kittens. They can’t stay out here for too long, and we are not able to keep watching over them.”
“Yes, I know, but what can we do for them?”
At this point the white kitty’s eyes opened wide with excitement, and suddenly exclaimed, “I have an idea. If I see this woman again, she may be able to help these poor little kits. Maybe, she will take them in, and care for them.”
“Well if we are to help these kittens we will need to get our rest, so we can be well rested before our search for her, in the morning. There is a vent in this building right here, that is large enough for us and the kittens,” as he pointed to a grey old building just across from where they were standing.
They quickly gathered up the kittens, and placed them in the basket, and walked over the building. They rested the basket inside the vent climbed in one after the other and curled up together beside the basket after ensuring that the kittens were kept warm in the blanket, inside the basket.
When morning came, the grey tabby noticed the white cat finishing up, feeding the kittens as she began to speak.
“You will need to stay with the kittens while I search for the woman. Keep them safe, and I’ll be back real soon.”
He watched her run off into the distance before he could get a word in. Quickly he checked on the kittens, sat beside the basket to watch over them, and fell right back to sleep.
Suddenly he was awoken by the cries of the kittens. He tried to keep them calm, until the white cat came back, but time had passed, and it was getting late. The kittens were now getting hungry again, and he was feeling famished himself.
“She should be back by now. Where is she?”
He was now quite worried that something had happened to her. He made sure that the kittens were bundled up, and quickly climbed out of the vent. He then walked to one end of the alley, then the other as he searched for her. She was nowhere to be seen.
“I really do hope that she is okay.”
Within moments he saw her walking through the park across the street heading towards him. When he noticed the woman trailing behind, and that the white cat was safe, he was relieved. The tabby then ran back to where the kittens were left, and waited.
Once the woman and the white cat were visible, he called the woman over, and she was shocked to see all four kittens. The grey kitty saw how sad the woman appeared when she picked up the kittens one by one and held them close. She then picked up the basket and turned to the two cats.
“Don’t worry I will be back for you two, and soon.”
After the woman left, the white cat turned to the grey one, and ordered him to stay where he was safe.
“But, why can’t we go together?”
“Because you can’t hear as well as I can, and you will just keep me back. Don’t worry I’ll be back soon. I promise.”
“Okay,” as he replied sadly.
It wasn’t long before the white cat returned. By this time he was famished, and needed to eat soon. Very soon, before he passed out. He strolled down the other side of the alley where the meat market was, and went straight to the back. When he got there he saw the meat man putting out some new scraps of meat by the tree. He walked up to the man, softly meowed and devoured the fresh meat within minutes. Once he was done he ran back to alley to wait for his new found friend.
She was already waiting in the alley for him wondering where he went.
“Where did you go?”
“I was famished so I went to search for food.”
Well, did you find some?”
“Yes I did. I can take you there if you like.”
When they began to stroll toward the meat market, the grey cat asked where the woman took the kittens.
“Oh, don’t worry. They are safe. She took them to one of those placed where human adopt cats and dogs to join their family.”
“Well I’m glad.”
“So am I.
When they arrived he realized that there was no more meat left on the ground, so they waited. Once he saw the old man coming outside he meowed loudly so the Mr. Rocco could here him, and when the man turned to see him, he was quite pleased.
“Hello. You’re back, and I see you brought a friend along this time, and what a pretty cat she is.”
Both cats gazed in wonder at the man as he then laid down some meat scraps onto the ground, and once they were done eating, they glanced up at the man once more purring, and then ran off toward the alley.
The man watched as they ran off and disappeared into the alley, and then whispered in his mind as if he was talking to the cats with psychic powers.
“Till next time my little friends, and keep safe.”
Once they arrive to their resting spot in the alley, and curled to each other the grey cat spoke.
“What do you think of that man?”
“I don’t know. He seemed nice and every thing, but I don’t know if I completely trust him.” “Well if he was going to hurt us, don’t you think he would have done that already? Besides he says he has two cats.”
“What if he’s lying about having two cats? Maybe he was just being nice to us until he capture us to hurt us.”
As the grey cat thought about it he understood why she would feel this way, because so many things can go wrong especially to cats living on the streets.
“Okay, maybe you’re right. Well let’s hope that woman comes back, because I don’t want to live in the streets anymore. I don’t feel any safer out here.”
“I know. I feel the same, and don’t worry she’ll come. I just know she will. Now come on let’s get some sleep otherwise we will be worrying all night.”
Bright and early the next morning, they heard a sound just outside the vent. A woman’s voice came closer, and both cats were glad to see her peering through the vent at them. Soon after they smelled the aroma of tuna, and jumped out the vent, and each walked into a box that was soon shut tight. Somehow though they were not worried, because they knew the woman was nice, and she was taking them to the same place she took the kittens.
Once they arrived at the shelter, both cats were examined closely, and then put into a crate with food and water. All the humans there were extremely nice as they cuddled and played with the two. The grey cat was even treated for the burns on his body and had something administered into his ears that felt soothing. As days went on he felt that he could hear again, and stinging of the burns were gone. His hair grew back in those areas, and he was groomed to look his best.
A couple months later, they were both adopted by a family of four. The family consisted of two adults and two children, and they all lived as one big happy family. The cats could have never been so lucky, because the family adored them, and now they even have names. Guido and Snow loved their new names, and thought that they could never be happier.
Text: Indira Nankoosingh
Images: Indira Nankoosingh
Publication Date: 03-04-2013
All Rights Reserved
To all strays who have been rescued from the streets.