Last time I found an abandoned kitten, I couldn't keep it. I was living with a dog who hated the Feline-American community so passionately that he would have eaten the kitten for breakfast, then possibly also burned the house down to make his point.
The kitten went instead to the safety of a shelter, where he was named, neutered, medically polished up and sent to Petco to be almost instantly adopted. That was the ideal outcome for him, but I couldn't help feeling a tiny bit disappointed he disappeared from my life. We had bonded on the ride to the shelter. After the part where he ripped up the skin on my hands and wrists trying to get away.
I soon moved into a new home and acquired my own personal full-time dog. Buster enjoys active senior living in an urban retirement condo, with me as his live-in companion and chauffeur.
Two Sundays ago, early in the morning, I was sleepily walking Buster down a quiet side street when I noticed, near the curb, a brownish-black fuzzy ball looking at me with big yellow eyes.
It was a kitten. A kitten way too small to be alone in the street where anyone could drive up and park on it.
I didn't have my phone, but I got busy looking around for other cats, a mother, perhaps, or a person looking for an escaped kitten. Buster sprang into action, frightening the kitten under a parked car well out of reach. Realizing holding a dog's leash wasn't going to make catching a lost kitten easy, I tethered Buster to a railing. From that command post he was able to bark what I'm sure were helpful suggestions the whole neighborhood could hear.
A lot of time passed. The kitten wasn't interested in coming out where I could grab him. Neither was anybody who lived on the street.
Finally, a sleepy woman appeared in a doorway. She looked kind and potentially helpful, except for the two huge Great Danes.
"Excuse me," I called out. "Could you put the dogs back in the house and come out with some food? I've got a stray kitten here." This sounded like an outrageous imposition even to me as I was saying the words. Yeah, and bring me a plate of scrambled eggs while you're at it; I haven't had breakfast yet. And do something with your hair.
Incredibly, her response was not to release the hounds. She actually said, "Oh! Sure!" She herded the Marmadukes indoors and came back out with a hotdog and a baggie of cheese cubes.
Buster was delighted.
Then terribly, terribly disappointed.
By the time I'd thrown Buster a piece of cheese just to get him to stop complaining, we'd lost the kitten. This filled me with an unpleasant mix of emotions: fear for the kitten's safety, and the rising embarrassment that my kind and generous neighbor would think I go around panhandling people for snacks with a made-up tale of a lost kitten.
At last, I spotted it under a minivan. After a patient luring with meat fragments that took approximately three geological epochs, I was able to grab the little bundle of fur and bones. With immense relief and gratitude, I untied Buster and went home with double the number of dependents I had left with an hour earlier.
So, I have a kitten. He's a boy, according to the vet, and he lives in my downstairs bathroom until I can successfully kittenproof a loft. His name is Milo. He's five weeks old.
Buster is curious about Milo and profoundly interested in his food. He's lived with a cat in a previous life, so I'm confident we'll all be one big happy family eventually, in a home filled with love and vast amounts of hair.
The universe owed me a kitten, I guess. And this time, I get to keep the skin on my hands and wrists.
Samantha Bennett, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.