Four Cats In The Animal Shelter


“Lord, is it good to be us!” Missy purred to herself. “Where before there was cold and wet, now there is warmth. Where before there was gnawing on bones, now there is more chow than we’ll ever need. One by one we were swept up by the people of this city, one by one we were placed reverently in this shelter, until these four felines found themselves together: A friendship seemingly eternal. I, Missy, am white, with some gray on the tail. Shelly is a deep, dark gray, with some teeth missing (I love her still). Pete and Patches lie beside us, and it is as if they always have, and always will. The mustard-yellow welcome mat lies beneath us, as always. Pete’s two front paws are curled beneath his torso, as is his habit. We’ve been in this animal shelter for months, yet I feel as if our life together has only just begun.” Missy curled her body tight, then stretched herself out, then settled down again.

“Pete smells different today,” thought Patches, “My tongue can taste it—like suddenly recalling the tang of Fancy Feast, although I haven’t had it in ages.”

“What shall we do today?” Patches said aloud. “We’ve been fed; we’ve slept plenty. Shall we stare intensely into the sky? Shall we run circles around the scratching post? We could stop to rub against it as well, feeling the static as it sends messages into our fur. I could climb to the top of the post, to feel, for a moment, the feeling of being a king-among-cats.

“If we wanted to, we could spend the afternoon chasing after each other, or, we could spend it chasing after mice that are invisible to everyone but ourselves (just as the humans pace into and out of that front gate, feverishly, chasing secrets we can smell, but cannot see). We can do all these things! There is infinitely more time than we’ll ever need.”

“For all of you, perhaps, there is time,” Pete said. “For me, there is now a yawning chasm. This morning I was adopted.” He took a paw out from under his torso to give it a lick, a subtle gesture that nevertheless gave away the conflict behind his green eyes.

“How strange, that gesture of Pete’s,” Shelly thought. “How glaring is this yellow welcome mat. The scratching post seems suddenly alien, and unfathomable… these traits that I’ve never noticed before. Pete is leaving us. Everything is suddenly wide-eyed; everything has been startled awake. My gray fur stands, shocked and upright. This boundless friendship has found its boundary.”

“If I knew how to work a camera,” Patches purred to himself, “I would photograph us, as we lie here, right now. I would see the welcome mat we rest upon… I would see the fences that surround us. Those same fences have held us here for months, trapping us in one place. Pete goes now beyond them. He goes beyond us.”

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.