There’s this cat that lives in my apartment complex. Its owners moved to a different apartment in the apartment complex right before I moved in, but that doesn’t stop the cat from still thinking that it lives in my apartment. So some nights it sits in front of my door, waiting for me to let it in and feed it and pet it and love it.
I’m allergic to cats. So when I hear it pawing at the screen door, I open the inner door and sit down and watch it watching me through the screen. I’ll occasionally put my hand against the metal and it will put its paw or its nose or its back against the corresponding metal on its side and turn around in a circle before sitting back down and watching me again.
It’s become a game.
It has to know that this is no longer its home. It knows that I’m not going to open the screen and feed it and pet it and love it because its new home is on the other side of the courtyard. But that doesn’t stop it from still sitting and waiting and watching. I don’t know what the cat expects me to do. I don’t know if the cat now feels like it has two homes and that it can come and go as it pleases and that by not opening my screen I am committing some sort of cat-sin by denying it access to its past. Its true home.
I couldn’t tell you what the cat looks like. When I watch it watching me all I can see is a something without the ability to affect the design of its life that it can’t understand the door to its past is closed and will never be opened. All I see is frustration. All I see is sadness.
But it still sits and watches and spins in endless circles with its paw or its nose or its back pressed against the metal, remembering the petting and the food and the love because those are the things and the place that made it the cat that it is today.
I don’t know whether to pity that cat for its fundamental misunderstanding of its situation or to praise it for its tenaciousness.
I think that maybe it’s both.