I love animals. In a past life, I probably would’ve made a pretty good veterinarian if I had the smarts for it. I once brought home a turtle from right off the street and begged my mom to set up an outdoor pen for it (the little guy eventually crawled his way out to freedom while I went to a swim meet). I had a pet dog for 12 long years and loved her every second. Although, a part of me always wanted a cat too. Even I knew that I had no chance in hell of getting a cute little kitten, however; my mom not only suffered from some pretty bad allergies, but she also hated the poor things.
That all changed one late night in November during my junior year, when I got approached by a big black cat who wouldn’t stop meowing at me.
I lived about three or four blocks away from that point, but the cat kept following me until I reached my front doorstep. She came right in as I eagerly showed the cat off to my housemates with a huge, proud grin. We shot videos of ourselves playing with this cute little guy for at least an hour. By then, we’d reached midnight on a school night, and we bid the cat goodbye for now.
You see, down in New Orleans, we have a pretty large population of stray and feral cats. I could walk about ten steps and probably run into at least one or two of them. I know all of the cats along my route to the gym by heart. In truth, I didn’t think much of my new little friend until at least seven months after this fateful night.
I didn’t stay at Tulane University in my second junior semester—I studied abroad in Copenhagen and met the harsh truth that Danish folks don’t really like strangers petting their animals. Every now and then, my housemates would send me Facebook messages that showed the cat occasionally showing up every now and then for food or attention, usually both.
We dubbed her Mao; yes, after the former Chinese chairman (that name came from one of my housemates, an international relations major).
Cut to May of this year. I headed back down in New Orleans to work for the summer, so my friends Leigh and Maddie, and I have the house all to ourselves. Lo and behold, guess who comes meowing up to the door?
Every morning, Mao came up to the front of our house and meowed her stupid head off, practically screaming until we gave her attention. I figured, “Well, this cat probably needs some food or else she’ll keep screaming forever,” so Leigh and I started adding bags of kibble to our grocery lists. That became our routine over the summer; Mao would come to demand her daily meals in the morning and at night, and we fed her for the entire summer.
The summer came to an end and my friends and I began the long, slow grind of senior year.
Slowly but surely, Mao started to hang around our house more.
When Leigh and I walked up our driveway, she would come to greet us with meows and nuzzles. If we headed towards the gym, she’d trail us for a block or so before heading back home. She started purring too; she purrs almost as loudly as she meows, in fact.
It got to the point where we could now actually hold her in our arms, though in all honesty, Mao doesn’t exactly understand the concept of not digging her claws into our shoulders. In fairness, New Orleans can get colder than one might think, and she just looked so cold sitting out there in the rain that my housemates and I just couldn’t help but give her some shelter for the night. We’ve come to the point where she’s claimed my bed as her own during the cold nights, as she darts right through the door whenever it opens and makes a beeline for my room.
Of all the things that could’ve possibly happened to me in school, adopting a cat probably sat towards the bottom of my list. Semi-adopting a street cat? Not even something I considered. But I wouldn’t give up my cute little kitty for anything in the world.
Now, we just have to convince my landlady to put a “feed the cat” clause in the next person’s lease.