A boy and his cat

I met Blackie during my first year of university. One evening, when I came back from work, he was there at my doorstep, an alley cat as can be found everywhere. His fur was black with the exception of a very small white patch under his chin, which made him look very cute! He was fearful and after some hesitation, he came inside my humble abode. I could see that he was famished, but I had nothing suitable to give him. I was a little bewildered, so I prepared a bowl of water for him along with some chicken leftovers. My new friend was looking the worse for wear with his very tousled fur, but I liked his bad boy style. When our improvised dinner ended, Blackie showed me that he was not one to linger. I opened the door for him, a bit sad, because I was sure that I would not see him again, and he disappeared into the night.

But the next day, when I came back, he was patiently waiting for me at the same place (if I remember correctly, that’s when I decided to find him a name!). Once again, Blackie ate every bit of his meal before setting off. I was happy because we liked each other! But at the same time, I was a little nervous because I was very busy, and I now knew that he depended on me for his food. Months passed and Blackie was recovering thanks to my good care. Sometimes, he stayed at home for a few days, but his desire for freedom was so strong that he always set off on adventures. As you can see, Blackie was a true nomad and like all wanderers, he was shrouded in mystery!

Blackie showed me his true colours the next summer. Good weather had returned a few weeks earlier, and he was spending more and more time away. As for me, I must admit that I was working a lot, so much so that I let him come and go as he pleased without thinking too much about it. In hindsight, I think I should have realized what was going on in front of me, but isn’t love blind as they say? Anyway, I digress! It was July, and Blackie was back home after a number of days of roaming. He was more agitated than usual, and he was meowing strangely! He turned his nose up at the dish I had prepared for him, and he found refuge under my bed, a shelter that he stubbornly refused to leave. The evening unfolded without me seeing him again. I must admit that at that time I was rather worried, and I decided to go see what he was doing under my bed. Blackie was still there, but he wasn’t alone; little shapes were stirring by his side! Surprise! Blackie was a female cat, and in addition she had just given birth to a litter of kittens under my bed! I was really caught off guard and wondered what I was going to do with all these little ones. But don’t worry, I took care of my boarders and found an adoptive family for all my kittens!

To be honest with you, I still feel guilty about what happened because I should have had Blackie neutered. Fortunately, one of my friends, who had time to devote to her, adopted Blackie, and I know that she had her neutered thereafter! Today, I have lost sight of them, but I imagine that they are living happily somewhere. In fact, it was when I came across an article about stray cats that I remembered Blackie. I was delighted to find out that there are now a number of groups of volunteers providing makeshift shelters and food to the homeless cats populating our neighbourhoods. From Vancouver to Montreal, residents are setting up “Trap-Neuter-Release-Maintain” (TNRM) programs in collaboration with veterinarians who neuter and vaccinate entire colonies of cats! Naturally, these initiatives are relatively expensive, and all these groups depend on donations from the population to do their work. But this citizen mobilization fills me with happiness, and I hope that in a few years, this new philosophy will replace euthanasia! Because in the end, studies show that it is more advantageous to neuter stray cats than to end their lives!