Outdoorsman says, when I wax poetic about how wonderful it will be in our larger apartment, that the size of the apartment doesn't matter; no matter what, the kids will always be clinging to my skirts.
Three days ago, Coco-pop, who had been playing downstairs with a neighbor, came running into the kitchen where I was washing dishes with Turtle attached firmly to one of my legs. "Ima! Come see!"
"Can we keep her?" said Coco-pop, as soon as I approached the spot that she had led me to, to the right of the garbage room.
Why do we always assume cats are she? was my first thought.
My second one was, oh, no.
The kitten was just a few days old, by the looks of her. She was mangy too, and shaking from paw to whiskers from some unknown but probably deadly disease. Outdoorsman had given her a little dish of milk, but she looked too young to know what to do with it.
Tears came to my eyes, and, annoyed--it's just a cat!--I blinked them away. "Sweetie, this kitten is too young to take home. She needs her mother. Let's leave her here, for her mother to find." and I turned away.
Turtle was fascinated, and I had to hold him back from certain kittenacide. Coco-pop pouted, and Princess pretended to be upset as well, even though I could tell that she was relieved. Things that can jump unexpectedly frightened my hyper-aware eldest daughter.
The next morning, I went to check on the kitten. I pretended that I was doing nothing of the sort, however. I lugged out my garbage bag half-empty instead of my usual preference of stuffed-and-almost-ripping-and-slightly-oozing, and went to the garbage room. I let my eye drop casually on the spot she had been yesterday.
She was gone.
Slight hope sprang in my heart. If she was gone...she couldn't be dead, right? Maybe she was okay.
Why did I care so much, is the deeper question, I thought as I tossed my too-light load into the garbage bin, making sure, as I always did, that no cats were inside waiting to be squished by a well-flung garbage bag.
Well, they are mammals and they can feel pain. So it makes sense that I care about them.
This morning, I walked into my building and stopped in my tracks at a sudden movement that streaked in front of me.
The sudden streaky movement had a tail and whiskers. "It's the kitten!" said I.
But it couldn't have been the same one. This one was the same color, but frisky and healthy and bigger. A healthy sibling of the poor sick one? "Oh, can we keep it?" I said to Outdoorsman. He smiled in a way that can be construed as condescending, if one were to construe it.
I walked towards it, and it darted up a flight of stairs. Then another. Then another. We were on the third floor, now. "Here, kitty kitty," I crooned.
As I edged towards it, I had a horrible premonition. "No, kitty, no! Don't--"
Down the stairwell.
A high-pitched scream may or may have not escaped my lips. I quickly looked down the center stairwell, and saw a set of ears and a tail. "Oh please, don't be--"
It wasn't. I saw the ears twitch, and then she got to her little feet.
Yes, I had to wipe away more annoying tears. Yes, I hate to see creatures hurt. Yes, darn it, I refuse to kill moths, bees, or even cockroaches. I do allow myself the occasional mosquito, especially when I am covered in a fine layer of bites, but I still feel a twinge of self-disgust. And I think, I ended a life.
I refuse to analyze it, though.
Suffice to say, while I love pets, they do not seem to love me. Our hamster died of mysterious bumps, our old bird flew out the window, (we have a new one; keep your fingers crossed!) our chameleon died of what I hope was old age, and kittens jump down stairwells to avoid me.
Which puts my kids and their skirt-clinging into perspective. Hey, at least there, my feelings of love are firmly returned.