by Sara Spock
I used to have a cat named James. As in Taylor, Buffett, the band, and a guy from the 9th grade that I had a massive crush on. During the heart of Pennsylvania winter, complete with three-foot snow storms and temperatures below zero, I found him outside the science lab at my rural high school. Even then, I couldn’t resist the siren song of a science lab. As I gazed out the window, longing to go skiing, build a snow man, or throw an icy lump of something cold at Mr. Slenker, a cardboard box caught my eye. The box was lodged in a pile of snow next to the back entrance near the lunchroom. Whoever left it there must have thought someone would see it, but it was almost the end of the day and the box remained untouched.
Mr. Slenker, my earth-science teacher, melted his cold heart long enough to let me go out and see what was in the box. When I lifted it up, a mama cat and 5 babies were sitting in the snow beneath the box. Nestled in that frosty white snow, I saw James who was jet black with yellow eyes and no more than 6 weeks old. Right then, I did the stupidest thing a ninth grader ever did…at least on that day. As my teacher went back inside to alert the office, I tucked that tiny little kitten into my hoodie. I don’t know exactly who took the rest of the brood and the mama, but the school found homes for them very quickly.
When I went home, my parents weren’t happy about another pet. Or at least they wouldn’t have been, if I told them. Instead, I just kept James in my room, brought him to school with him, and snuggled his brains out as much as I could. After a month of hiding my new little black kitten, I asked my dad if I could have another cat. He said no, he could never deal with another cat in the house (we only had one other!) That’s when I pulled James out of my jacket and told him that it didn’t matter because he had already been dealing with another cat for more than a month. I was keeping him.
The look on my dad’s face was a mix between “Touché” and “Oh crap, what have I created?” But he let me keep him, and that’s the important part. James stayed with me for eight years, not bad for a preemie that lived outside and had a penchant for midnight brawls. He used to scale the brick walls of our house and bump his nose against the window until I’d open it to let him in. James liked to curl up on my head to sleep, bring me dead things, claw my fingers when we played, pull the lid off my fish tank, eat my goldfish, and meow loud enough to wake everyone. He also loved to crawl inside my jacket, even when he was a 10-pound cat, knead his kitten paws into me, nuzzle his little pink nose against my neck, and lick my cheek. He was my best friend and my sounding board for those horrible high school years. Where ever he is, I know it’s kitten heaven. Or he was reborn as my 13-month-old, who loves to love me as much as he loves to torment me.
~Sara Spock is a Mom, Wife, Penn State Graduate, Substitute Teacher, Freelance Writer, and Chocolate Addict. When she’s not giving pets people names, Sara can be found over at The Hero Complex where she tries to save the world, one. recipe. at. a. time.