I look to it, cocking my head to the side, and it follows the motion with its own head. I lift myself up higher to check its neck. No collar. It’s a stray. As a settle back into a squatting position, I meet its clear, green eyes. Quickly glancing down, I rip my gaze from its. Those eyes saw too much.
Lately, school has been more difficult. Getting out of bed in the morning is impossible when that’s the only reason. Listening to people complain about the unimportant things, his mom wants him to pick up some eggs, her package will come a day late, the internet’s a little slow today, I am confounded. Why are they worried about those things when people are starving and would love to be able to afford some eggs, would love to have the money to order that coat, or have a computer to use at all. How fortunate these people are, yet so ungrateful.
I needed to get home.
I look back at the half-starved creature in front of me. I, too, was selfish. Unable to even see this small creature in front of me who I actually had the power to help. Why try to change world hunger when I can’t even look past myself enough to see the starving neighborhood cats?
Jogging into the convenience store, I buy a small can of Fancy Feast and a paper bowl. I quickly return to the green-eyed feline. It hasn’t moved. It just stays seated on a cardboard box that seems to double as its home. After pulling open the small can of cat-food, I dump the contents into the stiff, cardboard bowl and stand there. I’m not sure how to approach the stray. How used was it to humans? I, a fellow human, was barely able to tolerate other people. Their intentions are never clear. Did they want to hurt or to help?
I slowly stoop down setting the bowl on the ground and backing away. I keep my eyes on the cat the whole time, and it returns my stare with its own distrusting eyes. I understood it. I leave the immobile cat and continue my walk down the street, deciding to return home without checking if the cat ate.
The next day I return to the cat’s small alleyway to see if it had eaten. I slowly turn the corner into the alley and look for the cat. It sits in the same spot at before, still watching me. I look to the spot a few feet in front of it and see the bowl. It is still full.
I can’t blame the cat for not trusting me. Most people don’t, but that’s probably because I don’t trust them either. I’m not the kind of person who needs other people. How unreliable are other humans. We make promises and forget about them. And even if we remembered, sometime we can’t even be bothered to keep promises if they ask for a little to much. Without anything to gain, be that money, rewards, or just reputation, we do nothing. People are so selfish.
Especially me. Why did I feed the cat yesterday? To satisfy my own sick need to feel generous, or maybe I wanted to feel superior to other people who didn’t feed this cat. But I’m not even sure of my own feelings, so why am I assuming so much about other people?
I shake my head, trying to shake out the useless thoughts. Even if people do things with selfish intentions, does that make the action less giving? I guess it wouldn’t take food out of the bellies of the people that are helped with these egotistical motives. Less cautiously than yesterday, I approach the cat. I stop at the bowl and chuck it into the dumpster at the opening of the alley.
“Do you like dry food better?” I pull out the small bag I had slipped into my backpack that morning and shake some of the pellets into another paper bowl. Dropping the food on the ground, I stoop so my eyes are level with the cat’s. The stare is as intimidating as before.
The cat turns its body so light hits the parts of its body that had been hidden by the darkness yesterday. Now, I see the irregularities in the cat’s fur created by raised scars along with its prominent ribcage. Although there is no collar around the neck, I see now that the fur there is matted with blood. Instinctively, I reach for my own throat, but find only smooth skin. It is surprising how effective time is at healing.
I looked back to the cat’s eyes. It jumps down from its perch and takes a couple steps toward me. I offer a closed fist to it over the new bowl of food. Its accusing eyes watch me for a couple seconds but then slowly it approaches my hand and sniffs it, closing its eyes. Reopening its eyes, it looks back at me and seems to nod. I could stay for now, but I couldn’t touch. I pull back my extended arm and watch as the cat examines the food. Carefully, it selects a piece and eats it. I watch as the cat slowly eats the rest of the food, but when about half the food is gone, it stops and nudges the bowl toward me. Is it offering me the rest? Laughing, I pull out the bag of food again and refill the bowl, pushing it back to the cat. With that I lean back on my heals and follow my momentum out of the alley.
I never saw that cat again. I like to think that someone kind brought it home, although there isn’t anyway for me to know the truth. Maybe it got hit by a car or starved, but somewhere in my mind, inexplicably, I know it is alive and well.
Although I was blind to it before, I see people’s mindless complaints as attempts to talk to me. I guess I was placing myself in the dark corner, no one else had put me there. And although some people have bad intentions for good deeds, their thoughts aren’t malicious, so I guess that can be taken with a grain of salt.
Maybe the world isn’t as bad as I had wanted to think.