The Girl and Her Pets

Mom will take care of them.

Picture credit: Pinterest

Shortly after we moved into our long awaited new home, my daughter started asking for a pet, so I thought we'd get a parakeet or two; it turns out, she didn't want birds or dogs; she wanted a kitten. I'd preferred dogs, but we began looking for kittens locally and at nearby Animal Shelters with no luck.

I decided to drive a bit out of town, to a place I'd never driven to before, and we found the animal shelter and my daughter couldn't wait to get her kitten, but I told her we probably wouldn't take one home that day because we'd have to get to know it first.

There was a long line for kittens already, and they were going fast. When our time came, there were only about two or three cats left, both tabbies, one orange and one black. A person behind us told her child they'd take the black one because it'd probably be left behind; my daughter would've taken any cat, from anywhere. She always wanted to rescue any stray cat she saw outside when we went for walks; it was the same with injured birds.

When we were finally allowed to "play" with the kittens, my daughter went straight for the orange tabby. It was kind of big and had a saggy belly that almost dragged on the ground; I knew we'd just adopted a kitten, or it'd adopted us.

Staff asked if we wanted to adopt, and that they were letting people take their pets that same day; yikes! I wasn't ready for a new family member just yet, I'd thought it was just a get-to-know-the-pet-visit! My daughter wasn't letting go of "her kitten" anymore.

Staff couldn't tell us if the kitten was a boy or a girl, oh, boy! I could see my daughter didn't care; she simply wanted to take her pet home.

Even though the kitten's name was Rain, my daughter quickly changed it to Ralphie, after a friend, but it didn't quite stick, and we always called it Kitty.

On our way home, the kitten kept meowing and meowing, making me very nervous driving through the meandering roads of Ojai. I didn't think the scrawny-looking kitten was going to make it home; it was driving me crazy and making me feel very unsafe. I was having very unkind thoughts but just wanted daughter and me safe.

I was afraid it would never stop meowing and wouldn't like going to a strange place with strangers.

When we finally got home from what felt like an endless drive, I was afraid to let the kitten loose, but my daughter wanted it to get out of the box, and when we opened the box, the kitten walked out without a worry in the world and quickly started exploring!

Kitty was home for sure! My daughter wouldn't let it out of her sight, well, except when it was clean up time.

I decided to "train" Kitty to be on a leash and would take it for short walks till it got used to the leash. It also loved going for rides in the car, and sometimes it even took naps when the car was parked in the driveway. The one trip to the park and beach didn't go too well, though, so we never tried that again, but we did let Kitty stay outside while on a leash, and it was doing well until neighborhood cats started messing with it till I didn't think it was safe to keep it out on the leash.

I kept going on my walks, and it'd follow me for a couple of blocks then back home.

My daughter played with Kitty as if it were a raggedy doll, and it never even cringed!

Those two were inseparable, sleeping together, exploring the yard together, eating, and even studying together.

One day, the three of us went for a walk, and on the way back, Kitty went for the bushes, lifted a leg, and sprayed a long and sharp spay! "It's a boy!" We both screamed and laughed, and it was the first time we knew we had a male cat!

Many times Kitty would disappear for hours at first, but then it'd come out of the garage with a big yawn; we now knew he'd been sleeping, and other times it'd disappear for over twenty-four hours and show up again.

Another time, however, he disappeared for almost a week, and my daughter was devastated, so we kept going around the neighborhood and asking people if they'd seen it, but they'd always say no; it was a very hot July, so we were losing hope.

Then we got a phone call from somebody who asked if we were missing a cat! We said yes, and she asked us to describe it. She told us the cat was fine, with some injuries to his paws due to the severe heat but was still friendly. She told us she'd found it at Walmart's parking lot. She gave us her address, and my daughter and I went to pick it up. Kitty meowed as soon as he saw my daughter and reached out to her; I almost cried, but seeing the skin off his paws was even worse. We thanked the lady who refused a reward and took Kitty home to care for the wounds.

We had to wash and bandaged all his paws, so he had trouble walking for a couple of days, but his girl made sure to feed and take him potty!

Pretty soon, Kitty was his own self, getting into and sleeping in kitchen cabinets, and getting on top of counter, printer, and refrigerator. He mostly loved chasing pigeons away, but he left the messenger pigeons alone!

Kitty stayed with us for almost 17 years until it was too sick, and we had to put him down; it was a very sad day for my daughter and me, and we miss him till this day. Not too long ago, my daughter called from university to let me know one of her friends had a "surprise" for me...

The surprise turned out to be a kitten, but I couldn't accept it because we had already gotten another pup which we only had for three years due to an aggressive cancer. This one was the sweetest, most patient pet I'd ever seen, and she didn't mind when our next puppy joined the family.

My daughter loved playing and teasing her pets and let them sleep with her.

She even took her first pup for rides in a stroller and carried a bottle full of milk; people thought she was actually pushing a baby. They had a good laugh when they took a peek and saw the dog!

Martina R. Gallegos
Martina R. Gallegos

Ms. Gallegos came from Mexico as a teen; she went to university, and got her teaching credential.She graduated with her M.A. June 2015 after a severe stroke.Works appeared in Silver Birch Press,... https://poetry309.wordpress.com

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The Girl and Her Pets