This Cat

It was not the cat’s fault. He was going to be the newest member of the family. We were at the PetSmart adoption carnival to buy a pet; we had that look of determined acquisition. A cloud of cat-rescue people came upon us, presenting their candidates. They started with their hopeless cases. The blind cats. The ones that had tested positive for feline leukemia. The one missing an ear from a fight. The children looked upset. They just wanted a nice cat. Nice? We have nice. This one is nice but it has six toes. And cat herpes. But that just means it has a runny eye. Just give it vitamins.

“That one,” said the children, pointing to the runny-eyed cat.

The cat was skilled at being adorable, stretching and yawning with a tiny squeak. That did it. The children were sold. They were ten and six; by this time, they had stored up enough love to offer to another being. They mauled him, patting him, making guttural sounds of affection. He was, thank god, tolerant. He stretched again, made that yawn, and I was suddenly, unexpectedly tearful.

“We’ll take him,” I said.

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