Letter to Ninja
I like to believe I rescued you. I’m only human, after all. The thought of “rescuing” something makes me feel good.
But I know you rescued yourself, weeks before I showed up.
At some point in your young life, you learned to talk back when people spoke to you, to tolerate being held, to seek affection.
And so, Ninja, the pound workers allowed you to stay a bit longer.
The “holding period” for impounded cats there is five business days. You got to stay for more than three weeks.
Perhaps it was your kitten-like frame, your loud purr or your friendliness to other cats and dogs at the pound.
Or because you learned to look people in the eyes.
When no owner came for you, the employees at the pound wanted a no-kill rescue group to take you in and give you a second chance.
That rescue happened to be Adopt-A-Pet, and the foster home happened to be me.
You got your second chance.
When I went to pick you up, I was happy to see you were a black cat. Don’t tell Scout and Beamer, but black cats are my favorites.
When I first saw you, Ninja, you were curled up in your litter box because it was the only soft spot in your cage.
When I brought you home, the first thing you did was roll around in the litter box I gave you. Was this to claim the new box as your own? Was it a habit you picked up at the pound? I thought about naming you Pig Pen, but thankfully you only did this one time.
The volunteers from Adopt-A-Pet warned me you would probably be wild and full of pent-up energy, that you would probably run around after spending three weeks in the pound.
You didn’t do that, Ninja.
Instead, you crawled under the comforter of the bed and remained there, burrowed, for three days. You came out only to eat or use your box.
When my cats came into the room, you were drawn to them even though they didn’t accept you right away.
When I said your new name, you talked back.
I know you probably don’t think about your past, but as a human, I have to make up your story. That’s what we do.
Were you lost? Were you abandoned? Were you born to a feral or stray mother? How many nights did you sleep outside last winter? Was someone looking for you?
I know it doesn’t matter. And if you could tell me your story, you would.
You always have a lot to say.
But now you have a good home in Wisconsin. Who woulda thought?
For most of 28 years I tried to get my mom to adopt a cat. She never would.
Not until she met you.
Now you can watch eagles and squirrels from the large windows. You hold your own against a springer and a golden. You live with two people who built you a scratching post with their own supplies and tools from their garage.
You had a present under the tree at Christmas, and my mom drove you 180 miles (one way) just so you could stay with me during their vacation rather than home alone or at a kennel.
You are quite the cat, Ninja.
One of the lucky ones.
This post is dedicated to the 439 cats who were killed in the Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead pounds in 2011. Impounded cats are kept for at least three to five business days so owners have a chance to reclaim them. But many of these cats are ownerless – abandoned, stray or feral – and therefore have no chance of being reclaimed.
Please support no-kill cat rescues and shelters in your region as well as the trap-neuter-release of feral cats.