My neighbor's cat, Peaches, had kittens. I think there were 6 of them. My sister, and mom and I went over to see them shortly after they were born. They were funny and scared and unstable on their feet. I picked up the brown calico kitten. She was soft and sweet. Here little eyes were so big and scared. I tried to calm her down, I pet her and whispered sweet nothings in soothing tones. But she started to get all squirmy. I tried to hold on until I could get her back to her box, but it didn't work. She spilled out of my hands and fell directly on her head. She was stunned, but jumped up quickly and ran to the corner where she cowered until we left. That was our first meeting.
It wasn't until two or three weeks later that I saw her again. It was my 16th birthday. My parents told me that my birthday present was outside. I went out, and my neighbor was there holding a basket with a quilted cover that had a small opening at the top. I didn't know what to think at first. Then, my mom said, "you can pick whichever one you want". That was when my cat, Mercedes, climbed over the other kittens in the basket to push her head through the hole in the top, and say "Let me out of here!" Actually, she just said, "mew", but I knew what she meant. I picked her.
I named her Mercedes after a character I had seen in a movie. We called her Mercy for short. She was a brown based calico, with soft creamy white patches, offset by skinny orange stripes that were barely there. She had four brown paws and one that was completely white. Her face was all brown and black except for the top of her little nose, which was covered by a lone white stripe. She was the most beautiful cat I had ever seen.
The first night she was mine I stayed up all night just watching her explore my room. Everything was new and fascinating and exciting for her. She approached everything with caution at first, but eventually got up enough nerve to jump off or jump on or climb over. I was afraid to go to sleep. There were so many little dangers for a tiny little kitten to fall into. Eventually I got tired enough to trust her instincts.
It seemed like overnight that she grew into a cat -- A loud and opinionated one. She spent most of her time sitting on the back of the living room chair where she could look out the big picture window into the front yard, jumping up occasionally to hunt a bird through the glass. The rest of her time was spent yowling loudly at the back door until someone let her out. She loved to go outside, but she would always sit right by the back door eating grass which would later make her sick.
But when she was in the mood, she would curl up in a fuzzy, sweet ball on your lap. Or, if you were sleeping, she would knead your arm, or your neck, or your face with her tiny paws and purr so loud you could hear her in the next room. Those were the times she paid you back for all the turned up noses she had given you that day. Those were the times I loved best.
When I went away to college, Mercy staid home with my parents. One summer I came home to find that my parents had adopted a big yellow golden retriever named Sadie. Mercy was scared of her at first, then she was just annoyed by her. Sadie had a very strong tail that was always wagging, and frequently knocking over anything, including Mercy, in its way. But eventually Mercy got used to living with Sadie, and they got along pretty well.
Then, when I graduated from college and moved out on my own, Mercy came to live with me in my new apartment. It was then that she became more than a pet. I was lonely that first year. I didn't know anybody in the town I had moved to. I spent most of my weekends and weeknights alone in my apartment. She was the companion I needed her to be. She no longer stuck her nose up in the air at me. She was always right there ready to cuddle and keep me company when I needed her the most. She's a cat, I know, but she became a great friend to me then.
Of course, I eventually started meeting people and spending more and more time away from my apartment. Mercy started to get lonely. She would wake me up in the middle of the night wanting attention, but I was usually too sleep to be bothered. My parents suggested that she go back to living with them, but I wasn't ready to give her up. Pretty soon, I was home long enough to feed her once a day, but that was it. She started getting sick a lot. She eventually stopped eating, and became lethargic enough to scare me into poking her every once in a while just to make sure she was still breathing.
Finally, I agreed that it would be better if she staid with my parents until I could be home more often to take care of her. I took her home one Christmas. It was so hard to say goodbye to her. And she didn't want to stay. My parents had gotten another cat that Mercy did not like.
By the time I was home often enough to take care of her, I was living with my boyfriend who was allergic to cats. So she's still living with my parents. I think she's happy there. She tolerates Sadie and the other cat Whitman. She's able to eat the grass outside again which I know she enjoys, and she's much healthier. I know she's better off there, but I still miss her. I wish I could have been as good a friend to her as she was to me. I wonder what she thinks about me; if she remembers who I am.
She's far from that rumbly, tumbly kitten I stayed up all night watching. But I can still see that kitten inside of her. She still has 3 brown paws, and one white, and she still has the cutest little white stripe down her nose. I will always think of her as a friend. I like to think she thinks of me as one too.
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