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On Owning a Pet

A couple of months ago, I took in a cat. I was in my last hour of my shift, and my coworkers and I saw a small cat dart past the window and underneath a car to hide. A couple of my coworkers are cat people, and in their well-meaning and compassionate nature, quickly went outside to investigate. His meows were loud, and he sounded like he was calling out for help. They took him behind the building, where we had food and water set up for another cat that had been frequenting the building for some safety and refuge. 

About 10 minutes later, my curiosity got the best of me and I had to see the thing for myself and headed on to the back of the building. The small orange creature was walking away down the alley, but seemed to be slow and tired. I picked him up, which he took surprisingly well to, and placed him in the shade near the food and water. He took a few drinks of water and splayed himself in the corner against a wall. He was a dirty and ratty little cat, with a blood-red eye he could barely open, the left side of his face swollen, and some scratches that weren’t yet closed up. He wouldn't stop meowing at me, and when I crouched down to look at him, he stood up, rubbed his body against the side of my legs, and curled himself up beneath me. All with a gentle purr.

This was the first time I've ever had an animal take to me in such a way. I've had pets before in my life, but due to personal or familial reasons, never really got to keep them their whole lives, and at times too young to truly appreciate their companionship. This animal, despite the trauma that it seems to have experienced, being alone and injured in the oppressive desert heat, came to me and showed me affection. He trusted me. It was at that moment that I decided that such a trust should not be taken for granted, and that I would take him in, alongside all of the responsibility that came with it. I was not thinking about the cost of raising him, how much his vet bill would be, or the commitment I've made to him. But none of that mattered in that moment. We were both just living creatures who happened upon each other at the right spot in time and space. I simply wanted him to have a safe place to exist in, free of the uncaring world that has terrorized him so.

Since that pivotal moment two months ago, it's helped me to realize just how transcendent of an emotion that love truly is. Here I am with a small creature that cannot speak the same language that I can and cannot view the world in the same lens that I can, but still does what's in its abilities to show that it loves and trusts me. To be so vastly different of creatures but still have the same capacity to show affection to one another in our own languages is something that is completely and inordinately beautiful to me. He seeks me out for safety, for refuge, for warmth, and for cuddles. And I do the same towards him.

I have the knowledge that he will die someday, just as all living things do, yet I have still committed to make sure his miraculous existence is as beautiful as it possibly can be until his day of departure comes. I understand that the love and care I give to him will comprise his entire life while only making up a relatively small but meaningful portion of mine. What a responsibility that is: to ensure that the transient experience of life is as wonderful as it can be for another living creature. And it's something so many of us do without a second thought.

The fact that we as humans often choose love, despite understanding the great pain that comes from the loss of it, is something that I've really come to appreciate. At this point, I'm not quite sure if it was I who saved Huxley or the other way around. But either way, I'm grateful that this is something I can experience in my one shot at all of this.


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