I met him at a cat café. I’d only been to it a couple of times, usually not as long as I’d like. This time, however, I had the time.
After I finished a sandwich and my tea, I washed my hands and went into the cat play area. There were a bunch of kittens inside, all either available for adoption, pending adoption, or recently adopted and waiting for their new owners to pick them up. About eight kittens in total. Some were very playful and I enjoyed playing with them for a good half hour or so. They were kind of crazy, some climbing me and running around the enclosure chasing toys. Some were asleep, some were getting pets from other café patrons. After a while, I left the hyper cats for some kids to play with and I sat on the other side of the room to watch. That’s when he came up to me.
His name was Rankin. He was a ginger. He didn’t use his claws like the other cats had when they’d climbed me. Instead, he hopped into my lap and sat, waiting. I pet him as I was expected to do, and he immediately started purring. He was a cutie. Just a young kitten, and yet so much more calm and relaxed than the hyper ones, though not shy like the other quiet ones. He was sweet, and I enjoyed petting him. His fur was soft and we just sort of fit together. Eventually, he curled up in my lap and fell asleep, and I kept petting him all the while.
As he slept I did calculations in my head. At my mom’s house my sister was allergic and my mom hated cats, and at my dad’s house we already had a dog who liked to bark at small furry things sometimes. If I wanted Rankin, I’d have to move out into a place that allowed pets. Did I have enough money to move out? Maybe if I liquidated all my assets and lived very frugally, I’d last a year. But there was also the cost of Rankin. Pet insurance, vet visits, food and toys and litter. No, I couldn’t afford all that.
At some point, the café closed. It broke my heart to do it, but I lifted Rankin off my lap and put him on the floor in front of me. He woke up, looked around, realized what had happened, and before I could get up he had crawled back into my lap and fallen back asleep. I relented, and pet him for a good half hour after. No one had come by to kick me out, anyway. Eventually the café workers had left and a man who I took to be the owner came in and started setting up for something. I lifted Rankin off me but he was more prepared this time and no sooner than I let him go did he go back to his spot on my lap. I could feel his purring and I didn’t want to leave him, so I pet him a little longer.
Two hours after the café had closed, I again lifted him from my lap, but this time I cradled him in my arms as I stood and finally I put him on a cat tree. He looked around, confused and hurt. Now that I was standing, he couldn’t return to my lap. I was sad too, but the owner had been joined by his buddies and they were all singing very loud karaoke in Mandarin, and it was dark out and I needed to get going. So I left.
I came the next day, and again a couple of days later, this time with my younger brother. We knew we couldn’t keep him. We knew it wouldn’t work out. Personally, I knew I couldn’t keep seeing him. It hurt my heart every time I had to walk away. I knew that this would be a goodbye, of sorts.
I haven’t been back to that cat café since. I’m sure Rankin’s gentleness and charms got him a good home, I only wish it could have been mine.