The Ginger Cat didn’t have a name, so I referred to him by the colour description on his cage card. There was one other adult cat at the Humane Society that summer. His name was Sam. He was a brown tabby with emerald eyes. I cleaned and fed the shelter cats every day. Whenever someone came in looking to adopt one, I would show them around. Most people wanted a kitten.
I would tell prospective owners,
“He is quiet and gentle and very careful about covering up his business. You never know how a kitten will turn out, but I can tell you these adult cats are great.”
Then one day – success! Someone adopted Sam. But in the weeks that followed, many kittens went to loving homes while The Ginger Cat remained. He was never really interested in food, although he ate well enough. He would walk the length of his kennel, turn and walk back, his motor running, his eyes locked on mine. His routine was always the same and all he wanted was my attention. It was more than half way through the summer, when the shelter manager Pat, took me aside during my lunch break.
“We cannot keep him much longer. It’s our policy – it isn’t humane to keep a cat locked up in a cage for months. I’m sorry, but he’ll have to be put down if we don’t find a home in the next 2 weeks.” she said.
That night at our kitchen table, I told my mom about my day.
“Do you think we could bring him home?” I said.
“Yes. But Dad’s got to say yes too.” she said.
The next day, my dad arrived at the shelter just before closing. I showed him around and then we headed down to the cat room. My dad stood there in his dress shirt and tie, The Ginger Cat like a baby in his arms. He couldn’t look away.
“OK.” he said.
My mom named him Beethoven. He loved to lay on his back and roll from side to side, begging for someone to rub his belly. At the end of the summer, I went off to university and Beethoven stayed behind. He spent the next fifteen years with my parents. Whenever I came home for a visit, he loved to just sit and look me. I swear he was the most grateful creature I’ve ever met. And for all the times I heard a ‘no’ from my parents, I am forever grateful that they said yes to The Ginger Cat.