For as long as I remember, I’ve always had a way with animals. I don’t know why, but for some reason animals have always picked me out of a crowd. That’s not always a good thing, either. Just ask my wife and daughter about the particular human the monkeys in Costa Rica chose as an aiming point for their poo. Yep, they chose me out of approximately 20 people. My daughter said it was because my bald head gave them a shiny target.
Regardless of why this happens, it seems that nearly every important period of my life involved some type of animal. When Tiffany was pregnant with Téa, we lost our beloved yellow lab, Emma, to cancer.
A few weeks later, we rescued Kimo from our neighborhood shelter because our other dog, Hula, was totally brokenhearted and needed a companion. While we call Kimo the cat-dog because he acts more like a cat than a dog, he’s been a loyal and loving companion for Hula and a kind and gentle pet for our kids. He’s also a fierce defender of his pack. Not bad for a cat-dog.
Speaking of cats, that species played a role in everything that was happening in Kyiv last summer when we were over there having our twins. There are a lot of stray animals in Kyiv, and I’ve written already about the wild dogs. Cats are no exception, and you’ll see feral cats and kittens just about anywhere at any time.
This includes the maternity hospital where our boys were born. Feral cats are scattered about there, hiding under buildings and cars and even in trees when things get dicey from their perspective. I noticed them right away, but didn’t really bother with them because I assumed they’d want nothing to do with me.
For the most part, I was right about that, except for one little guy who seemed to be peering at me with particular interest the first couple of times I walked in and out of the hospital. On my third walk past him, he decided to stroll out from under the car, sit down a safe distance from me and meow. I gave him a gentle “hello” in return and put my hand near the ground for him to come and sniff. Surprisingly, he did so, and the next thing I knew, he was rubbing my ankles and purring away.
I didn’t know what to make of that. I wasn’t sure if I should touch him any more than I had, as he might have had fleas and I didn’t want any germs to spread to our preemie newborns. After a few seconds, I did pet him, and he went wild. He corkscrewed himself into the ground and demanded a belly rub. I obliged, and he grabbed my hands and instead of biting me, as most cats do in that situation, he started licking me.
I was hooked. I had a new friend, and the whole time we were there I never saw another cat approach another person, including my new buddy. I started bringing him scraps of food, and within a couple of days the little bugger would see me and come running to greet me, rubbing my legs and purring away. It was strange, but also kind of neat.
I actually appreciated his presence a few times when things were really hairy inside the hospital. He provided an unexpected comfort when he’d let me pet him while I waited for my Uber, wondering how we were ever going to navigate our way through that insane situation. It’s seemingly a very small detail of all that happened over there, but it’s something that’s always stuck in my mind. Why was that cat there? Why did he choose me as his human? What ever happened to him?
Wherever he is, I hope he’s OK. He was a good boy and one of the many small but memorable things that took place in Ukraine.