When I was sixteen a ferrel cat that stalked around my grandparents neighborhood had a litter of kittens in their wood shed. Momma Cat was a grey short hair with bright yellow eyes, a broken tail that turned at an angle, and a hot temper.
I asked my parents if I could have one of the kittens when they got old enough. I was 16, working a part time job, and promised I would take care of all of the kitten’s s vet bills and needs. My dad, never a cat fan, said nine magic words and unknowingly set a challenge.
“If you can catch one, you can have one.”
There were three babies; an all black fluff ball, a grey and white fluff ball that was bigger than his siblings, and a tan and brown Siemese looking kitten who stayed closest to mom. The Siemese kitten, I’d started calling Hershey, was the one I wanted most.
I recruited two friends, Piper and Lori, and headed to my grandparents house one evening, fueled by teen-age determination, and about $5 in canned cat food from the nearest 7/11. The three of us had underestimated how hungry momma cat would be. She inhaled the cat food before her kittens even came out of hiding, leaving us with no distractions. Back to 7/11 we went.
The second round of food brought all three kittens out of hiding, and kept mom occupied. It became obvious my kitten wasn’t going to be decided necessarily by which one I wanted. Ferral cats are sketchy, kitten claws are deadly, and food bribes only went so far. I was going to have to go home with the one spending the least amount of time trying to claw through flesh.
The grey and white long-haired kitten was the only one who allowed us to touch him. Every attempt to grab the one I’d been calling Hersey resulted in hisses from kitten and momma, and a few attacks. Taking the hint, I picked up the willing kitten and we made a run for it.
We took off in my car and reality sank in. I had a cat. I had to take him home, where no one was expecting a kitten besides me. We took him to a grocery store to buy some supplies, and stretched the drive out for two hours while I worked up the nerve to go home.
I walked in the door and up the stairs, passed our Schnauzer/Yorkie mix frantically trying to figure out what I had in my hands. Bravely, I headed back to my parents bedroom ready to defend myself and the fluff ball it would take me three days to name.
“What do you have?” my dad asked, concerned and irritated.
“My cat,” I answered. “You said I just had to catch it.”