by Troy Chapman
This new cat on the yard was causing quite a stir. No, this isn’t hep prison talk. I’m talking about a real cat. I met him this morning.
I had stepped outside and was talking to another man on the yard when the cat suddenly made his appearance and stood looking at us from about twenty feet away. He was about a small- to medium-sized model with long orange fur. When he popped out from behind the big green dumpster, I felt like I had just seen a baby born. The wonder of it.
“Come on, let’s go see him,” I said to my companion and we walked toward him, stopping several feet away for fear he’d get spooked and run off. It was wasted worry. As soon as I crouched down on my heels, he walked up bold as brass and when my hand touched his head, it was like hitting a switch that threw him into friendly-cat mode.
He began turning about, rubbing himself against my leg while at the same time getting the most out of the contact with my hand. He arched his head upward, walked on his tiptoes (or is it tipclaws?) so that my hand would trace his entire spine and run down his tail.
I could feel his ribs and bones and his fur was matted and completely missing in several large patches. He had a large sore on his back leg. It was obvious he hadn’t been living the best life lately.
As I continued to stroke him he threw all embarrassment to the wind, rolled over and wrapped his paws around my hand, pulling it toward his exposed belly. If he could have talked, he would have been saying “Ooh yeah, right there.”
I was grinning like the fences had just fallen down. My companion got in on the act and still there weren’t enough hands for the cat. Another guy walked up and stood watching. I said “Go ahead. I know you haven’t touched a cat in awhile.” He petted away for a few minutes. The cat kicked his back paw in ecstasy. He was giving perfect expression to what I was feeling inside. If my soul has a back paw, it was twitching away with the cat’s at that moment.
After about ten minutes I felt like we had better move along. The guards hadn’t said anything and maybe they wouldn’t, but this much simple pleasure made me feel like I was doing something wrong. I came back inside, got my soap dish and scrubbed my hands, feeling a slight twinge of guilt for needing to wash away the physical residue of a pure and perfect connection.