A month has passed since I snatched a tiny orange and white kitten, eyes and nose pasted shut, from the side of a major road. Li'l Ralphie is a survivor: he has endured being thrown out of a car onto a highway; he has conquered a terrible upper respiratory illness and an abscess; and he has found himself a lasting home with us.
Li'l Raphie, named after our old Ralphie who died a couple of months ago, entertains and warms my heart in mysterious ways. The typical kitten, he struts when he's feeling proud; he hides when the tea kettle whistles; he skips sideways in a threatening stance when I sneak up on him. And when he's all worn out from playing, he jumps onto the sofa with me, sprawled out, and drapes himself along the front of my neck. With his two-pound weight on my throat, I have a little trouble swallowing, but it's all right: Li'l Ralphie's is in sound sleep.
Admittedly, I'm a person who thinks too much and too weird thoughts; it's why I write--you know, the old "outlet" thing. But this two-pound, fur-wrapped creature is so puzzling and endearing at the same time. For instance, I watch Li'l Ralphie skipping along the carpet in a prelude to an attack upon his catnip spider. He springs then wrestles it into submission, and I marvel at the ferocious creation packed within those two pounds. And then my imagination takes over, and strange things begin to happen.
Two pounds of fur and wonder. Two pounds composed of guts, a little brain, bones, tendons and ligaments to make the bones and muscles work, a pancreas, liver, stomach, lungs--all put together so ingeniously as to allow this creature to jump, stalk, leap, twist in the air, and, in all ways, thrive. It just seems as though there's not enough "stuff" inside the fur-covered skin to allow it to manifest itself as a playful, curious, proud, wild being. And I can hardly fathom, too, how all the organs and whatever else inside him allows him to wrap his arms around my neck and purr his love for me. Such manifestation of what I consider, in many ways, human behavior, all comes out of a body weighing only two pounds. For some reason, I can more easily comprehend a human being mysterious, vain, egoistic, etc., because there's obvious size and capacity to contain the machinery for such feelings. In Li'l Ralphie's case, his being a character with strong personality and loving attributes just seems harder to fathom--yet it's all there--inside that tiny body: at times contentment, ferocity, playfulness, trust of another, very different and, in comparison, very huge body--i.e. mine--that sweeps him off his tiny paws, into the air, and plants sloppy kisses on his nose.
Because this tiny, two-pound creature is capable of reacting, feeling pain, and expressing, in his own way, love for me, and because I always like to share, I have a favor to ask of my followers and anyone else who happens upon this blog. Here it is: Li'l Ralphies exist in animal kill-shelters all over this country. In these facilities in cages stacked high, sit gorgeous two-pound kittens just like Li'l Ralphie waiting for a chance to blossom--skip, leap, purr--have a decent life. They never asked to be born and never did anything wrong to warrant being taken to a shelter to live one or two weeks in a cage before being euthanized. So, as a favor to me, to the Li'l Ralphies in shelters, and to yourself, please go to the website of your local shelter--I beg you. Scroll down the images of the cats and kittens that have never been given a chance to skip, play, be curious, and run and leap through the grass as Li'l Ralphie has. Look into their faces and make the decision to adopt one or even two. And then call, ask about the kitten and commit to adopting him or her. I promise, you won't regret it. In return the kitten will reward you with hours of entertainment--little two or three pound wonders that will make you laugh and feel a warmth of spirit that, in this world, we feel too few times. If you're worried about the commitment, don't. They don't expect much--just a small breakfast and dinner each day and a dry, warm place to sleep. And a litter box would be a good thing. If you give one of these cats a home and basic care, they will repay you hundredfold just as Li'l Ralphie has repaid me.
Adopt a cat or kitten--two kittens, if you can afford it, from your local kill-shelter. Relish the experience of rescuing a creature who really, truly needs you and appreciates you, and then write to me on this blog and share your experiences of your two-pound wonders. Your efforts will not go unnoticed or appreciated, and I promise you will feel more complete, more fine, more satisfied than you have in years.