My friend Steve is not an animal lover.
He actually had never had a pet. The household he grew up in was animal-less. Food is expensive and should be saved for people, not furry, dirty, loud and useless animals who don't pull their own weight.
Steve is 6' 5" tall, with a wry sense of humor, a constant deadpan expression. He built his house himself and doesn't find that feat to be amazing in any way. I don't get to talk to him often. When he told me his cat story, my eyes were so full of tears I just kept blinking at him to see if there was a happy ending coming but of course he doesn't reveal that til he's ready.
Steve lives on a quiet street in a little town. He shares his home with his beloved bride, a second wife who appreciates him.
He told me last spring a little stray cat kept coming around the backyard deck. She wound around his legs and cried piteously. Something about her persistence and her lack of fear drew his attention kindly toward her.He put out bowls of milk- remembering from childhood books that was the food of choice for cats. He bought his first bag of cat food. Then he started reading the labels of the bags and eshewed corn-based products. Hooked, right?
In this way, the little stray was fed outside all summer, never staying around long. Some days she didn't appear, but Steve reasoned she was a wild creature after all, probably ate a few chipmunks that day. One day he heard a mewling and found a nest of baby cats under the deck. The little mother even carried a kitten to Steve... "to show me!", he said with amazement.
All this Nature was happening in front of him and he found it remarkable. He still didn't think of the cat as belonging to him, he was observing it, interacting with it.
Anyone who has seen the lion episode on the Nature Channel can't fail to remember what happens to unprotected baby cats. The babies were all killed by a tom cat.
This is where I verbally bellow--"Neuter your animals!"
Steve was moved beyond the clinical observation. He got it. But he didn't realize it yet.
He wrestled the lost soul into a box and took her to a highly recommended vet. He told the veterinary technicians he wanted her to be spayed "...so she didn't have to go through this again in the wild." They listened to him for a while, sizing him up probably.
They told him he was crazy.
"Nobody does this! This is a beautiful little cat and she is yours. We will spay her for you to take her home. To your house. Inside."
And now Steve has a cat.