Even if you had no intention of getting another pet this soon, you had an idea of a type of cat you’d like; energetic, friendly, and playful. If you had a cat that was more isolated and quiet, it would feel just as empty as it already did around your house. Loud choruses of mewling from the kitten pen made you turn. ‘Well, kittens are playful and energetic,’ you thought to yourself. ‘Not to mention a kitten would have a longer life with me than an adult.’ You decided to give it a try, making your way over to the little pen to stand by Bella.
The woman noticed your presence, patting the spot beside her to come in and sit down. “Make sure Yao doesn’t get in. He’s awfully fond of some of these kittens.” She stated, writing down something on a clipboard you hadn’t noticed she had. Never the less, you took up the available spot in the pen and looked towards each kitten curiously.
The one with the brown paws, tail, ears, and face you had seen earlier from the orange Scottish Fold was lying in a corner of the pen with another kitten. It was completely white besides a black patch around one of its eyes. The two seemed tired despite the fact that it was the middle of the day. Maybe they were lazy? You moved on.
The kitten that had pounced on Yao – the one with the strange curl – was trying to climb the pen. You watched him for a few moments until he launched himself from the wall of the pen and onto Bella’s back. The woman let out an “Ow!” that informed you of the kitten’s exposed claws. The other kitten with the flower collar was also on the wall of the pen, but was pawing at it and mewing. From over the pen’s wall you noticed a familiar brown cat meowing in response. You had to admit the mewling kitten was rather cute, but the way Yao kept pacing made you wonder for both their well-being if you were to bring her (you presumed it was a she by the pink flower collar) home.
That left two others before you made a choice. By their similar appearances and from the watchful eyes of that orange cat, the two must have been brothers. “Um, Bella?” You said, shifting slightly in your spot as you watched the pouncing kitten leap at the one with the collar.
“Yes?” The woman asked, lifting the troublesome kitten into her lap before looking towards you. Your lip curved up a bit. “Those two kittens there, are they related?” You asked. The woman nodded. “The one with the dark grey mane is Alfred, the tan-maned one is Matthew. Both of them came in with that Persian over there and the Scottish Fold. We don’t know why, but the four of them showed up at our door and wouldn’t let us separate them for quite a while.” You bit your lip. You couldn’t just split up family like that, could you?
While you thought, the grey kitten Alfred waddled up to you on his stubby little legs. Matthew had scooted over to Bella, eyeing you bashfully. Alfred regained your attention by meowing, making you look down at the little kitten only to smile. He had taken a liking to one of you shoe laces and was entertaining himself by pulling, pawing, and batting at it. You lifted the kitten up into the air, noting how he seemed a bit heavy at such a young age. Alfred meowed happily, licking your hand once before beginning to squirm. You set him back down as Bella chuckled beside you. “Seems like Al has taken a liking to you.” You nodded in agreement. “I think I’ll choose him.”
It hadn’t taken long to fill out the adoption papers with your mother, nor to collect the hamburger squeak toy he adored so much. No, the real problem had been the departure.
It wasn’t that Iggy had been hostile, quite the contrary he seemed relieved in a sense. You had personally asked to let little Alfred say good bye to his family before leaving, your mom and Bella both giving you permission to do so. It had been rather touching. First, Alfred had run over to his brother Matthew with energetic mewing. After tackling the poor kitten to the floor, Alfred had begun licking his face in what could only he described as a good bye hug. By then, Iggy and Francis had walked over to the two to complete the family portrait. Alfred had touched noses with both adult cats, and boy had there been purring!
You began having second thoughts about splitting this family up when Alfred had come running back to you with a content expression on his face. Iggy had followed after them, but stopped right in front of you. You squatted down to meet almost at eye level with the cat, blinking as he mewed at you. “Take care of him.” No, he hadn’t actually said that; it just seemed to be what he meant as he rested one white paw on your knee. Against the logic of your brain, you gave the cat a nod of understanding before he returned to the pen. Alfred went right into your arms.
Looking back on that fateful day you smiled. You had tried explaining to your mother what had happened on the way back, but she had just replied with the standard mom answers of “Mhmm” and “That’s nice honey.” But that didn’t matter. You were probably the only one who actually knew what had happened.
CRASH! Oh yeah, and him. “Alfred!” You called out from your spot in the living room, immediately turning to face the kitchen where the crash had come from. A loud meow responded, but no chubby grey cat exposed himself. You lifted yourself up from your spot on the couch and made your way into the kitchen, arms crossed. You weren’t surprised with what you found.
Despite your consistent warnings, your mom had decided on grilling today for the simple purpose of inviting your friends over. What had she decided to grill? Hamburgers. Of every type of meat she could have grilled, she picked the one that created sneaky Al. There was a reason he hadn’t wanted to leave his hamburger toy back at the shelter and you had already bought him another plus a plushy!
Upon entering the kitchen you found your tubby friend engrossed with what had been the freshly made hamburger patties for the get together. Alfred looked up at you as you entered momentarily, meowed happily, and went back to eating. You frowned at your cat as he continued to stuff his face with your dinner, eventually heaving him onto one arm against his wishes. The struggling and frantic meows of protest were ignored as you deposited him in your room.
"Honestly Al, you're already chubby mister." You joked half-heartedly, annoyed at that specific little antic. Or more, your stomach was. You set him down gently, standing in the doorway in case he tried to make a break for the kitchen.
Instead of trying to get out like he usually did, he bolted under your bed with surprising speed. It all made sense after he dragged out the hamburger plushy you had gotten him on the Fourth of July – a holiday he seemed to enjoy like a child did their birthday. You collapsed on your bed; sighing as you imagined the lecture you’d get later about Alfred’s gluttonous and chaotic eating habits. Your eyelids slowly lowered until they were completely shut, leaving you in blissfully darkness.
Something heavy landed on your stomach and though it was pretty obvious what that something was, you cracked an eye to look anyway. There Al laid, right on your abdomen, hamburger plushy right beside you. “Yeah, what is it?” You asked, opening your other eye to get a better look at your cat. Alfred began crawling up your body until his nose was almost touching yours. Stretching his neck, he brought his little black nose to your own with a loud purr. Whatever annoyance you had been holding onto disappeared that instant as your little kitty cuddled you.
“You know Alfred, that cat from before made it seem like I had saved you from the shelter.” Alfred looked up at you, eyes curious. You continued. “But the truth is, you saved me.” You engulfed the cat in a large hug, him returning it by licking your chin.
“My little hero.”