Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ferally new

This little kitty kept me up Wednesday night. It wasn't because she was mewing in my ear or jumping around while I tried to sleep (annoying features that pro-cat people celebrate for some reason), but because I am too easily touched with the plight of beasts who are pitiful.

She is a relatively new semi-resident of the apartment's lot/alley, and the grey kitties who have been around for years don't seem to be territorial about the food my neighbors put out for them.

However, she's bony and wheezy and her eyes are weepy. She is not really feral, as she wanted to purr and be petted the first day I had time to try. That was Wednesday, and all night long, like a homework assignment that you didn't finish, a medical test result that you won't know until "later," a job interview that you can't stop obsessing over in advance, she and her fleas and her wheeze were all over my mind.

I don't feel this way when I see homeless people - why?

Occasionally I will be overwrought from an encounter with a child who is attached to a bad-seeming parent, an addicted one or homeless one, outright mean or negligent one. Yet, what, beyond a smile straight to their eyes, can I do?

I haven't found people to follow migratory habits I can track. They come and they go and are transient in the deepest sense of the word. They are flickers in our minds, like the man who was sleeping on the 11th Street sidewalk Tuesday morning - a block from City Hall, the Police Headquarters, people with jobs and court dates and "lives." Unlike a dirty cat at my door, a man completely underneath a blanket, to me, is not approachable.

I don't think I've seen the same "homeless person" twice. Therefore, there is no possibility of a relationship, the thing that comes easily with a desperately friendly cat, the thing that opens the way for you to help out without condescending.

We are taught early on to avoid strangers.


joe said...

We have the same reactions. Allie and I want to adopt every stray we see, but we breeze right past hurting people everyday. It is an odd dichotomy.

Susan said...

I feel the same way -- I'm still feeling guilty about 911 and Katrina in some ways because tho I was very gravely concerned about the people, all out sobbing was reserved for any animal stories of either disaster. :(