Sometimes the Universe gives me a cat.
I write urban fantasy, so I’m fairly open to the idea of magical energies at play in our mundane world. Still, I had no intention of adopting a cat in October of 2019. When my oldest cat, Scrap, died that July, I was comfortable with the idea of being reduced to a two-cat household. “If the Universe gives me a cat, I’ll have another cat. But I’m not going to go out looking,” I told myself. It became my mantra.
And then, one Saturday toward the end of October, I went out for a routine errand run. I needed dog food, and furnace filters, and I wanted to make a fuel stop before my car hit empty. I’d meant to leave around ten but, somehow, I didn’t get out of the house before 1 pm.
My ‘little voice’ speaks
As I headed north to get gas, I heard a little voice in the back of my head. All the women in my family hear this voice when we need to pay special attention to something.
“Go to the shelter,” it said.
The animal shelter is located just one exit short of my gas station, but I didn’t want to adopt another animal.
“That’s silly,” I told myself. But I kept getting the strong message: “Go to the shelter. Go now.”
The shelter opens at noon on Saturday, and it was busy when I got there. On the weekend before Halloween, they were having a Harry Potter-themed adoption event, with all adult animals available for a fee of $9.75. I cruised along, letting the more eager adopters get a better look, scanning the cute tabbies, but not really interested in any of them.
The Kitten in the Back
Then I spotted a tiny calico, with her back to everybody. In that same instant a little girl—about three—body-slammed into the glass window yelling, “Kitty!” Her parents had brought her there to adopt her very first pet. She was so excited she was literally bouncing off the walls.
My immediate, gut reaction to this adorable child’s interest in the calico was, “Get the hell away from my cat, you little twerp!”
I realized I needed to examine that reaction. Then, as the little girl’s parents peeled her off the glass and redirected her attention to the dogs, I asked the shelter worker if I could see the cat. She showed me into a private room and went to get the calico.
As soon as she returned, she started apologizing. “This kitty is kind of slow to warm up,” she warned me. “She has a little cold from when she got her spay surgery. She has a back toe that must have gotten caught in a trap or something. It’s kind of mangled . . .”
The Universe Gives Me a Cat
I said it was fine. The shelter worker put the calico on my lap.
I looked down at a pitiful bundle of orange and black fur, and met the flat, assessing gaze of a determined soul. Understanding that this whole experience had a psychic aura, I opened myself to the kitten, so she could see what I was made of. I tried to project love and comfort.
We held our gaze for at least five seconds. Then it was as if she decided yes, okay, I would do. She turned around, tucked herself into the crook of my elbow, and began to knead and purr.
“Is she . . . making biscuits?” the shelter volunteer asked, clearly astonished.
“Yes. And purring. You said she was slow to warm up?”
“She’s totally snubbed two different adopters already today.”
As if to make her intentions perfectly clear, the calico climbed up my arm and scrubbed her jaw against mine, scent-marking me as hers.
I’ve been Adopted
“Well, they do say that cats choose their owners,” I told the shelter worker, “She can be an early birthday present for me.”
When I said “present,” the name Gift chimed in my heart, the way names do when you know they’re right. We all know that if you name an animal, it’s yours.
“So, you’re going to take her?”
“I have to, don’t I? It looks like I’ve been adopted.”
After that it was just filling out paperwork. Although she was tiny, Gift was old enough to have been spayed, so she qualified as an adult. She cost $9.75 to adopt. I actually had the cash, although I rarely carry cash. All the stars aligned so I could walk out of the shelter I hadn’t intended to visit with a cat I’d had no intention of adopting when I left the house. Because, clearly, the Universe wanted to give me a cat.
Most of the photos in this post come from G. S. Norwood’s private collection. My senior cat Scrap, who died in July 2019, provided the inspiration for Ms. Eddy’s cat Tidbit, created for Deep Ellum Pawn. Photo of Scrap from G. S. Norwood’s private collection. Illustration of Tidbit is © 2019 by Chaz Kemp. I acquired the members of “The Texas Pack” during my work with dog rescue groups. In just one year, the scrawny, snotty-nosed little calico I found in the shelter underwent a remarkable transformation. But she still likes to cuddle. Photo of G. with Gift at the shelter taken by Marcy Weiske Jordan. Photo montages created by Jan S. Gephardt.