While C.W. Gusewelle is away, here’s one of his favorite columns, originally published in 1996.
Wherever the women of my household go, cats present themselves — creatures of uncommon excellence, and all of them needy.
The other morning it was my daughter, telephoning from her work.
“There’s this kitten,” she said.
The words caused my breathing to become rapid and shallow. Our need for additional cats is not great.
“He was outside the garage where I park,” she said. “It’s next to a homeless shelter, and the men there have been taking care of it. It’s a sweet kitty and very friendly.”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“I asked one of the men if he’d keep it until you got there.”
“He said he would. You’ll know the place. You’ll see a group of fellows on the sidewalk out front.”
Time has taught me the uselessness of protesting. So of course I drove there and, as promised, several men were talking together outside the doorway of the shelter.
But the prize beast was nowhere to be seen, and for the briefest moment my heart leapt up.
I parked the car and approached the men. They were chatting amiably in the cool of morning — men of different races but bound together by that comradeship of people who have lost their way or lost their luck.
“My daughter called about a cat,” I said to one of them.
“Sure,” he said. “The cat. It’s here somewhere.”
“He wants the cat,” another said.
News of my mission circulated among them.
“Where’s the cat?”
“He was here a minute ago.”
“It’s a little tomcat,” the first man said.
“I think maybe he’s in the garage.”
That was where they kept his food dish and his water.
One of the men went in the garage and returned a moment later with the cat in the crook of his arm. As advertised, it was a handsome little fellow, about half grown — a gray and black tabby with fine, clear markings and wonderfully amiable.
“Your daughter wants him, does she?”
“Well, it’s really up to you,” I said.
“Sure,” a man said. “Take him. He needs a place.”
I got the box from the car.
“You’re sure you don’t mind?”
“No. Go ahead.”
They helped me put him in the box.
“There’s some food back there if you want it.”
“No,” I told them. “We have some cats already. There’s food at home.”
I felt bad afterward about not taking it. It was what they had to give.
“I’m glad someone’s going to look after that little cat,” one of the men said.
“We’ll get him checked out at the vet’s. Get him his shots.”
“Good. He’s a good cat.”
I put the box in the car, thanked them, and I drove away with him — a cat who had found his home and his luck, leaving those men standing on the sidewalk, still waiting for theirs.