I call him Charlie.
We found him in the park this morning, or more precisely, he found us. The LWI and I go out every morning to play tennis, and today I was startled to see that I had a fan: a little black-and-white kitten watching intently from just outside the fence.
When he realized that I'd seen him, he let out one of those little squeeky little-kitten mews that are biologically designed to bring out all one's protective instincts. (I've never had any sort of inclination towards motherhood, but kittens flip all those switches that I imagine children are supposed to.)
But he wasn't mine, and we have enough cats already thankyouverymuch, and surely he'd just wandered out of someone's yard and they'd come find him any minute now. So I tried to ignore him.
I'm up two sets to one, a killer serve, a baseline rally, an attack at the net, and...
Dammit. We try another couple of sets, but come on, you try focusing on the ball when there's a little tiny helpless creature behind you (mew!) who finally works his way under the fence and trots over to rub up against your ankles. I carried him back outside the court a couple of times, and each time he'd sit and watch us play for a while, and then (mew!) he'd come back on to the court and want to play too. He was hardly bigger than my shoe. This picture isn't him (I was afraid if I actually took his picture I'd never be able to give him up) but it's pretty close to what he looks like, except that he has this absurd little Charlie Chaplin mustache.
What do you do with that? The little guy wasn't more than a couple of months old; he was clearly accustomed to people, but we had no idea where he belonged and no one seemed to be looking for him. The park is bordered by a couple of fairly high-traffic streets and there's a number of loose dogs in the neighborhood, so I really didn't want to leave him on his own. And ohmygod he was so helpless and adorable. (NOT taking him home. NOT taking him home. NOT taking him home.)
I figured if someone did go out to look for him, they'd have a better chance checking the local animal shelter than they would just randomly looking around the neighborhood. So I took him to our vet first, hoping against hope he'd have one of those identity chips even though he was so little, or that someone would have reported him lost there. (When I took OneCat and TwoCat to their vet last week, someone had brought in a stray they'd found, who turned out to have an identity chip, and while I was there he was reunited with his people, to many tears and much rejoicing all around. I couldn't help but hope for something similar for Charlie.)
Charlie was chipless, unfortunately, and the vet said the best thing I could do was to take him to the shelter. Even if his people didn't find him, he was so cute and well-behaved that she said he'd have an excellent chance of adoption. (And neither one of us could bring ourselves to say this, but even if he does meet the fate of most unclaimed animals in shelters, I think it's better for him go that way than to be hit by a car or mauled by a dog.)
I took a cardboard box to put him in for the car ride to the vet, but he only lasted about 30 seconds in the box - much more fun to ride up front like a person! I was worried about him scooting around the car, but he sprawled comfortably on the seat and stayed put. On the 20-minute ride downtown to the shelter, he wormed his way onto my lap, sighed in contentment, and promptly fell asleep. The shelter people were completely taken in by him (as was everyone I passed on the way in), and it's a good shelter, so I trust he'll do well there... I'll check the neighborhood every day for signs, and hope that he's found by his old people or adopted by good new ones.
But I still can't help wishing he were my Charlie. We had a thing, there, for a little while.