I was feeding the dumpster kitties last night, lingering a little longer than usual. I was checking out the battle wounds of one of my toms, (hopefully not another story, right now I'm keeping a close eye on him) who looked like he'd got into it with either another cat or a raccoon. He is especially skittish so I was keeping my distance waiting for him to turn at an angle to give me a better look at his neck. I was standing closer to the parking lot than the woods behind the dumpster so I didn't feel especially threatened when a guy riding by on a bicycle stopped to talk. He was college aged or older, wearing hip hop clothes with long dreads. His bike was small, more of a stunt bike and he was steering it with one hand and drinking from a 16 oz. can of Natural Ice held in his other hand.
I was worried he was going to hit on me. Not that I am vain enough to think everyone wants to hit on me, but when deciding whether a twenty-something guy is going to take interest in me or a bunch of cats, I would have to guess me. I would have guessed wrong. He introduced himself as Curtis and asked if the cats were mine since he has seen me back there before. I told him they weren't mine, but that I cared for them and kept them safe. We then got into a discussion about the difference between feral cats and "house" cats. It took quite a bit of explaining before he understood that I did this for little reward. No, I don't get to pick them up and love on them. I could tell where this conversation was headed so I told him they were mostly spayed and neutered. He seemed shocked that someone would pay good money to fix cats and then let them go again. A lot of people have trouble with that one.
"So you just feed these cats, get them spayed and let them go without being able to pet them or pick them up?"
"Well, yeah. But I don't really think of it that way."
"Man, that's what's up!"
I took this as a compliment. He then proceeded to tell me about a kitten he found in the parking lot closer to the next complex and that it was pretty friendly. I was still trying to get a good read on this guy.
"So did you do anything?"
"Yeah. I kept him." He said this as if this were a perfectly normal occurrence. Which it is- in my world. "He's my buddy."
I suddenly had an image of Curtis and a cat sitting in his apartment, watching TV and drinking Natty Ice. Maybe even smoking some dope. Hey, it was one less cat on the street, and I'll take it. I decided Curtis was an alright guy.