Plato and Dana were about ten days old when they came into our lives.
We had always wanted a cat, but our previous landlord lived in our building and hated all living creatures. She said I could get a fish, but the thought of curling up at night with a guppy was unappealing.
Scroll forward a few years. I was pedaling home from work one evening and saw a sign in a pet shop window:
猫！猫！子猫！ (Cats! Cats! Kittens!)
We had recently moved and our new landlord lived in Saitama, safely far enough away that he would never be the wiser.
Someone had abandoned a litter of five tiny kittens in a cardboard box at the shrine down the street. I took that as a good sign, not the abandonment—that was flat out evil—but I thought the kittens might be blessed in some way. One of the neighborhood ladies had taken them home, but she already had three kids, two dogs, a cat, a goldfish and a turtle, and was pretty desperate to find homes for the kittens.
Dana was the liveliest, and prettiest, of the bunch. It was love at first sight for Rochi, not so much for Dana; her eyes weren’t open yet. The three kids gave their mom a beseeching look; Dana was obviously the one they wanted to keep, but mom shot them a warning glance that said, “We talked about this. Let them take whichever they’re willing to take.”
“I want this one,” says Rochi. (Duh.) “Which one do you want?”
I pointed at Plato, who was curled up in a ball, fast asleep and partly buried under other warm, furry bodies.
“Why that one?”
“Because he’s fat. He’s got a better chance of surviving.” I am inanely practical at times.
We took them home, made them a nest of fake fur and started feeding them kitten formula from tiny baby bottles. We’re the only parents they ever knew. Proof of this is that neither ever did the kneading thing, which is a memory of nursing. All they remember is mom had rubber nipples.
Scroll forward again, fifteen years this time. Plato got sick. I did my best to keep him alive but eventually he died. I posted about that at the time and won’t go into it now.
One final scroll forward, this time a year and a half. Last week, Dana got sick. Really sick. So sick that we accepted it was over and would have to make our peace with that. Then Monday morning, I got up early. She followed me into the kitchen, looking hungry, and ate a bit of canned tuna. I did a little jig, then went back to bed to wait for Rochi to wake up. When he did, I touched his shoulder and said two words. “She ate.” He nearly jumped out of his skin (I NEVER speak first thing in the morning) but quickly recovered himself and did a little dance on the way downstairs.
She’s still weak and won’t eat much, but she is eating. We have no idea how much time we’ve got left with her, but it looks like it may be a while.
I guess the point of all this is that I have no religion and don’t believe in God, but I do believe in hope. Without hope, there’s nothing, and for the time being at least, I’ve still got that.