Remember when I said that the Fiery One and I might get this cat? The dream of owning the best cat ever nearly came to fruition, but on Friday, I found out that it was not meant to be.

A woman who works in the same institution that I do had to get rid of her cat because of family allergies, and I could tell from our telephone conversations that she was so sad about it. She told me how he never had hairballs, how he loved to socialize with people but was not needy, how he slept in the bed. how he loved a certain kind of cat treat, how he didn't like being outside. Her voice grew tight as we spoke. I assured her that the Fiery One and I had owned cats before, that her kitty could sleep in our bed, that we would buy the right cat treats. It turns out that this cat was such an excellent pet that her family was horrified that she was getting rid of him. Her adult children got together and figured out how to keep him in the family, and she had to tell me that her cat was not going to be ours. I felt bad about this, but I know that these things have a way of working themselves out, and they did.

When Saviabella heard the sad news, she offered to take the Fiery One and I out to the humane society to pick out a kitty, and we did just that. Yesterday afternoon, we drove out to the animal shelter to take a look at the cats on hand. The first room was filled with kittens up to six months old. Most of them were screaming and climbing the bars and crawling around in their litter and swiping at us through their cages. They were a largely annoying lot, and I thought to myself that we would never tolerate rodents who exhibited such obnoxious behaviour. In the second room were all of the young cats past kittenhood. They were a much nicer bunch by and large, and their personalities were much more obviously developed. This was good, because the sweet and cuddly creatures were sweet and cuddly, and the nasty clawing fuckers were just that. The third room was filled with weary looking older cats who were past their prime adoptable cuteness. They barely acted as though they were aware of our presence, instead busying themselves with sleeping, semi-catatonic staring, and resignation to their collective likely fate. I felt particularly bad for this group. Outside their cages, these older cats were probably quite nice, but they were beyond throwing themselves about in fits of feigned cuteness for our benefit. I nearly suggested that we pick one at random to save it from an untimely death based almost entirely on ageism, but we were there to get one cat, not save many, and the Fiery One had already developed an attachment to one from the first room. The cacophony of screaks echoing down the hall reminded us of the quiet little black kitten that the Fiery One had been chatting to earlier.

I didn't feel the immediate attachment to him that the Fiery One did, but I felt that I should trust his judgment on the matter. The cats I have chosen for myself over the years have tended to exhibit neurotic behaviour beyond that of the normal cat, and they also seem to die young of strange diseases and disorders. The Fiery One, on the other hand, seems to have picked out some pretty decent felines in the past. Looking back on yesterday's visit to the humane society, I think this was wise, because one of the cats that I secretly had my eye on may have been the one that gave the Fiery One a bloody knuckle.

We filled out the requisite paperwork, which requred four full pages of promises and questions. We even had to give our word that we would not perform scientific or psychological testing on the cat. I am a woman of my word, otherwise I would be moving ahead with my plans for rigorous operant conditioning experiments. The world of psychology will suffer for years to come from this setback.

After they were satisfied that we were nice people with no ill designs for our chosen kitten, they let us stuff him into a carrier and take him home. He mewed and he cried all the way home, but as soon as the Fiery One opened the carrier door in our apartment, the little cat started exploring. Within half an hour, he was eating and asking to be picked up and trailing us around as though he had lived with us for weeks already. In less than twenty-four hours, he has managed to use my face as a launch pad twice, claw the couch, trail some unidentifiable black oily substance all over the bathroom and coat his own back with it, develop a taste for hot coffee of all things, attempt to suckle on a human nipple, and leapt with intent to kill our birds within ten seconds of locking eyes on them.

Despite my original lack of enthusiasm for the little guy, he has worked his way into my affections without a doubt. I realized how much so when he tried to crawl into the shower with me out of his desparate need to know that I wasn't leaving him. I obviously must love creatures that try to kill my other pets, stand on my face, and make the bathroom look like it belongs to a truck stop.

We love him already, and we named him Oskar.*

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"Lost Kitten" by Robert W. Service

* Pictures of Oskar are soon to follow, at least hopefully so, depending on if and when I remember to develop any film.