There was this one particular stray cat who wandered around my street a few years ago. I saw him alive for about two years. My family called him “Johnny”. He wasn’t a cat you’d want to touch because his fur was always dirty and he looked diseased. Drool would drip down from his mouth. But I’d always call and beckon with the desire to touch and pet him. I wanted him to know that he shouldn’t have been afraid of me. I was his friend. But whenever I got too near, he’d always run away. Food wouldn’t make him stay. That was the nature of a creature who didn’t know love. Perhaps he drooled at the sight of me because he equated me with food.

Johnny mated with my cat, Paco, who gave birth to two unforgettable kittens. The male kitten looked like his dad with a bad eye that wandered. He looked sickly as a baby, but he grew up to be playful. He was given away to one of my mother’s friends. Last I heard of him, he had grown up to be huge. The female kitten was black with brown spots, and looked like a mix of her grandmother, Tipper, and her great-uncle, Bernard. My family kept her and named her Marsha. Unfortunately, Marsha died on 19 April 2015 after getting spayed. She was only about 3 or 4-years-old. I won’t ever get over her death because I saw her suffer in pain. It was fluid buildup that made it painful to breath, and so we had to put her down. I could still hear her cries. The vet also diagnosed her as being depressed. I suspect Marsha was pregnant when she was spayed, and maybe, just maybe, she was depressed over her loss.

The winter of 2014 / 2015 was a bone-chilling one. There were consecutive days when temperatures were around zero. On one of those days, I had opened the front door of my house and out of nowhere, Johnny came running towards me. He had never moved towards me before. I didn’t think of it, but if I knew then, I would’ve allowed him inside. But he was a stray cat who looked dirty and diseased, and I had five other cats in my house. So I didn’t let him in.

He ran towards me because he wanted warmth. He probably knew he was going to die if he didn’t find it. And that is what happened.

Johnny died sometime between 19 February and 22 February of 2015. My mother said the neighbor found him frozen in his garage. I was mournful. A few days later on the 24th, I wrote this poem dedicated to him. Poetry was and still isn’t a skill of mine, but I thought of Johnny while writing this. I think of Marsha now too. She’s buried in the garden that’s in front of my house. Father and daughter didn’t live fulfilling lives, and I can only wish them peace in death.

I love you both.

“This Is What He Probably Felt”

This is what he probably felt
The cards given to him poorly dealt
Body in pain by a thousandfold
All because of this f*cking cold

Past winters were warmer than this
But this one’s been such a b*tch
He’d sit outside our window for food
Giving him three years felt so good

He was a creature I felt sorry for
A creature that was unloved and unadored
He’d beg for food with a voiceless cry
Then run away when I only wanted to say hi

The last I saw him, he cried aloud
I called his name when it was cold out
It was the only time he ever came to me
Giving warmth to him is now but a dream

This winter has worn me out
I’m getting p*ssed, I wanna shout
But a rush of cold air is not as painful
As missing the chance to save someone so pitiful

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