When I first saw him he was crossing a busy street--one that even people have a hard time crossing. I stopped to feed him and see if I could get close to him, but he would come nowhere near me. He acted afraid yet not afraid. Some distance away from me he rubbed against a trash can while keeping eye contact with me; he almost seemed to be flirting. I backed away and he went to the food I left for him.
He was a thin, black and white cat although his white fur was very dirty. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but he acted as if life belonged to him; the look in his face seemed to say, “things are bad, but I’m going to feel good anyway.” He ate the food and walked away. I tried to lure him with more, but he just looked at me and kept going.
On my next trip to the alleys I looked for him. I drove slowly past the place I had seen him but he wasn’t there and I was worried. I kept driving slowly and looking for him until, two blocks away, I spotted him. Again he acted as though he owned life, he had no fear (which can be deadly for an animal on the streets). I had to get food to him but I also wanted to pick him up; when I called to him he watched me put down the food and would not approach until I backed off. As he ate I talked to him, I wanted him to know my voice. When he finished eating I took out a carrier to see how he would react--he ran off. To gain his trust I would have to work with him and be patient.
The next time I was in the alleys I found him again, still acting the same and just as before he ran off after he ate. He didn’t walk away, he ran as if to say, “That food was good but I have to go now.” He wasn’t running in fear; he looked happy and playful. This worried me greatly. I see happy animals on the streets almost never. I couldn’t get out of my mind the happy young black and white cat who was determined to make the best of what life gave him. More than anything I wanted to pick him up and find a really good home for him, or keep him myself.
For a week I looked for him every time I was in the alleys. I looked all over
and waited and called. I was worried sick that something had happened
to him--he shouldn’t be missing this long. One night when I was
in his area doing the usual calling and looking and waiting, I
noticed something in the middle of the road a block away. Before
I got there I knew it was the young cat who had come to mean so
much to me. I walked into the street. A driver blew his horn,
annoyed that he had to go around me, but I didn’t care. I leaned
over the little one and saw the blood. He was dead. I moved his
body out of the road the way I have so many others and I whispered,
“You just didn’t know.”