Steve goes with me, and it's nice time for us to spend together. He loves cats, too, and we come up with names for them, talk about their personalities, and on the drive home, talk about which one we'd adopt if we could (we have decided the four cats we have are enough.)
This is Alexis.
And this is Zeeba.
They had just come over from the shelter an hour before our volunteering shift, and while we were playing with cats, a mustachioed, grey-haired gentleman was looking in at the cats. We have learned to ask people if they have questions, and often, they will come in to look at the cats. He was shopping for cats.
His cat, Panther, of 20 years had to be put to sleep on Christmas eve. You could tell he was heart-broken. "That cat lasted longer than both of my marriages three times over," he said. He talked about how Panther would run to greet him every day, how he had a cat sitter come check on her while he was at work, how he had a special bed for her in the file drawer of his computer desk (he works on computers), and how, toward the end of her life, he hand-fed her, carried her to the litter box, and cleaned her.
Maybe, he said, he'd get two cats. That way, they'd have each other for company. "My home is pretty lonely," he said. He looked first at a black kitten named Polo. Panther was black. But Polo "didn't feel right," he said.
Then he looked at a grey kitten named Bunny. She was very affectionate. Too affectionate, he said. He didn't want a cat who was going to be begging for attention all of the time.
Then he wondered if maybe he wasn't honoring Panther's memory by getting another cat so soon. I said: "Panther would want you to be happy."
Steve, in the meantime, had opened a cage with Alexis and Zeeba, two striped cats (one orange, one grey), two very skinny strays. Zeeba jumped down and ran straight for the man. "Oh," he said. "Look, she's running for me." Alexis sauntered her way over, climbed up on the man's round belly, and meowed and growled until he was positioned just right. Then she curled up and shut her eyes. Zeeba, seeing her sister comfortable, jumped up, walked across the man's shoulders, and found the crook of his arm. She curled up and shut her eyes.
"I think I've just been adopted," he said.
It is an amazing thing to see someone fall in love, and I went to bed smiling that night thinking about mustache-man and his two new best friends. Alexis...Zeeba...and happy, happy, happy.