The new cat at our door is gray and white and we know little about him except he’s a shy little boy. I’ve dubbed him “Mr. Tom.”
He stumbled across the bowl in which I feed the neighbor’s cat, when she didn’t empty it one day. He wolfed her food down and waited to see if it would be refilled. It was and he’s been hanging around for a couple of weeks.
Mr. Tom has become as much of my routine as I have become his. He stares at me with round yellow eyes while I fill his bowl and speak nonsense. “There you are, little gray Tom. Is that kitten starving? You want some crunchies this morning? Oh, boy! Eat ‘em up.”
At first he ran to the corner of the house every time the door was opened, peaking around the edge of the hedge while I filled the cat bowl, then rushing in when the door clicked shut. He got a little bit braver each day. We had closed the gap to about eighteen inches, and I was confident he was soon going to let me pet him. Then one morning he wasn’t there.
I called, “Kitty, kitty, kitty!” Miz Kitty, who’s terrified of Mr. Tom, came to watch from the bottom of the drive. “Are you there, Mr. Tom?”
The gray kitty didn’t show up all day, nor the next. We had some scraps of chicken fricassee so I filled his bowl the second evening. “Somebody will eat it,” we said. And they did.
Twice I spotted the neighborhood stray—a big yellow male with a perpetual scowl, thick neck and heavy chest—slinking through the greenery. He’s an unfriendly guy who comes around only to spray corrosive stuff on our auto wheels and patio furniture.
I don’t want Mr. Tom to wind up like that ol’ yellow cat—mean and skittish and unwelcome. I want him to be our cat—pampered, well-fed and neutered.
Alas, the little gray kitten seemed to be determined to keep his independent state. It was, after all, what he was born into. His was a scrappy world, one in which only the strong survive and breed.
Should I force him? I wanted to throw a big towel over him, scoop him up and take him to the vet. If he was altered, would he be tamer? Or would he be so terrified he would run away forever and never trust another human?
After two days and nights of worry, my kitten came back to me, hungrier than ever.
Tom’s independent streak makes me think of God and how His children only come to Him when they’re desperate, never grasping how much he cares for them and wants to give them a better life. Mercy! Maybe he wants to alter us.