So. It was a Peruvian afternoon in April of last year. Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Warm and still sunny in Lima but not hot. I was buying something at the tienda (store) that Olinda, our landlady, runs on the first floor of our building. She was counting my change out into my hand when she looked over my shoulder and said, “Allá, Mira, Pamela. Tu gatito,” which is to say, “Look. There’s your kitten, Pam.”
I turned and looked and there was a little kitten, maybe the size of a man’s fist, mewing and toddling away from us down the street. I hesitated, the usual thought detaining me: I can’t take care of a cat!. Then some movement further down the street caught my eye and I looked. One of our neighborhood pit bulls was headed straight for the kitten, eyes on an afternoon snack.
Nope. No way. Not on my watch. So I trotted over and scooped up the kitten.
And, of course, as soon as I picked her up there was no more question about it. I had a cat. She was white with rust-colored patches, which is why Olinda called her my cat (I’m also white with rust-colored patches.) She was dirty and covered with fleas. I took her straight to the local vet, two streets down the hill. The vet cleaned her off with a combination of warm water and flea killer. I bought food right there, took the kitten home, fed her, built her a cozy bed.
She ate and slept, ate and slept for two days, then started exploring her new home. I named her Elf because she looked like one. The young lady who’s house sitting for me in Lima is taking care of Elf until I get home. She’ll be a year old soon. I miss her.