On Wednesday morning, I found a kitten hiding inside the wheel rim on my boss’s truck. Earlier that morning, I’d overheard people teasing my boss that a critter was living in his truck. Apparently, it had been crying all morning, amusing the men who work in the shop. When a few of us noticed a cat walk by one of the office windows, I assumed that this was the aforementioned animal in distress. Around noon, I went out to the parking lot, planning to meet my fiancé for lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant. A few feet away from my car, I heard urgent mewing. The poor thing hadn’t gotten away after all. (Cats often hide under warm cars during cold or wet weather, which puts them in great danger of which they are unaware. If you’ve parked in a area where a cat may get cozy in your car, it’s a good idea to bang on your car before getting in and starting the engine).
I gently pulled the kitten from the wheel, relieved she was fully intact—though quite wet. She was resistant and scared. The scratches she left on my hand are still healing. Without a plan, I got into my car with her, aware that driving with an un-caged, unpredictable animal was probably a hazard. Fortunately, she hid under the passenger seat the entire ride to the restaurant; the only sign of her was her continual calls for Mom.
Leaving her in my car with a window slightly cracked, I hurried into the restaurant and found my fiancé seated at our usual table. Although we’d talked about having animals one day, I wasn’t sure if he would think it was a good idea to adopt a kitten at this point in our lives since we’re not completely settled down, and we’re both looking for more steady careers. Nonetheless, neither of us mentioned trying to find her another home or taking her to a shelter.
I had to go back to work, so we transferred our new kitten to my fiancé’s car. Coaxing her out from under my passenger seat was a bit of a challenge, but when she hissed at my hand, and I felt her warm breath, I only loved her more.
Back at work, I constantly checked my phone for updates from my fiancé. I was delighted when he sent me this first photo of her.
When I came home, our kitten was cuddled up with my fiancé, warm, cozy, and no longer scared. It’s difficult to describe how moved I was the first time I held her as she dozed. Since she is so young (we guess she’s between 3 and 4 weeks old), she requires a lot of attention, including frequent feedings and lots of cuddling and warmth (not that we mind a good snuggle). Luna, as we named her, gives back in her own way. Aside from the pleasure that comes from listening to a cat purr, Luna’s presence in our home has illuminated things I sensed only in a murky way before.
Since her arrival, I’ve learned how common stray or abandoned kittens are. In the past, I’ve made small donations to organizations like the ASPCA without ever fully grasping how many animals need our help–and how much help they need. By adopting a stray or volunteering at an animal shelter, we expand our capacities as animal activists. Many of our friends have rescued strays, either off the street or from shelters. They say they can’t imagine life without their unexpected pets, and now we know what they mean.
On a personal level, caring for Luna made me reflect on my own situation. There is constant uncertainty in our lives. Jobs in my fiancé’s field (Medieval English) are limited, so he’s applying to positions all over the country. We’ve held off planning a wedding ceremony because we don’t know where we’ll be living in the next eight months.
Although I am more flexible in my career options, I, too, am still searching for something to better support us. Before graduating with my MA in English this past June, it was difficult to imagine myself as anything other than a diligent student. I felt like it was the only thing I knew how to do well. Being unable to find a suitable career was even scarier to imagine—I felt that if I didn’t find a “real” job, I would somehow cease to exist.
We’ve been making ends meet with part-time and temp jobs, but these provide only little financial security. While I consider myself to be a happy person, there’s often some underlying anxiety mixed in with the happy.
While this may not be the most practical time to adopt a kitten, in another sense, this was the best time to meet Luna. Despite the shakiness of our current career and financial situation, and despite the yet unofficial nature of our union, welcoming Luna into our lives has shown me that these circumstances haven’t prevented us from growing as a family. Yes—less than a week in our lives and Luna feels like family.
I’ve been out of school for four months now, and I haven’t evaporated. Together with my fiancé, I go on existing and so much more. With Luna around, we give a part of ourselves to her, which feels like reason enough to take care of ourselves and each other in every way possible. Finding a solid job remains high among my priorities, but the love I have for my life and those in it fills my days with purpose, warmth, and gratitude.
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Photo: Mary Hood