by Lisa

While Sulla and I were fighting our private little war, I was working in the kitchen one day when I heard a meow which sounded as if the cat making it were on the point of dying a horribly agonizing death. Reluctantly I opened the kitchen door and stepped outside. "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty." I called. A beautiful dark gray cat clearly not on the point of dying emerged from under the deck porch, stretched and came to be petted. "What planet are you from?" I asked. "Don't you know you're supposed to hate me?" In answer the cat only redoubled its rubbings around my ankles. I leaned down and rubbed behind the dark gray ears. The cat went into absolute ecstasies at actually being touched. After several minutes of this I was finally able to escape back into the kitchen. The cat meowed pitifully for several minutes and then was silent. It returned the next day, though and the day after that.

Three days later I bought cat food and bowls for food and water. The casual petting stage of our relationship lasted perhaps a month, during which the animal mysteriously acquired the name of Elfling. Then came the Great Flood of '97. Joe and I grew afraid our furry little friend would encounter some rabid wild animal forced from its home by the rising waters. I made an appointment with a local vet and bought a cat carrier. Luckily, Elfling had never seen one before so the cat went into it without much of a struggle. There was a brief flash of panic when the cat realized it was trapped but I was able to ease matters by talking to the cat. I loaded the carrier into the car and fastened the seatbelt through the carrier's handle.

At the vet's, the assistant gave me a medical form to fill out. Medical history? Breed? Gender? It hit me suddenly that I had never bothered to look at the cat's privates. I held the cat while the assistant probed but the cat's fuzziness prevented determination of this question. It was the vet who finally declared that Elfling was a neutered male. I would be spared the expense of that operation. I would not be spared the expense of rabies, leukemia and distemper shots but the license would cost five dollars, not the fifteen for intact animals. I bought some premium cat food and a kitty stretch collar. It took three weeks to clear up the ear mites acquired on the streets.

Only when Elfling was again allowed outside did I learn that two other families had been feeding the cat and that the cat had two names. I also learned something of his story. He had belonged to a neighborhood child until the child's father threw him out, after which he had depended on the kindness of strangers until I happened along.