If you're thinking of adopting a cat instead of buying one, my advice to you is—quite simply—don't. For years before the death of a faithful feline friend, I had read imploring ads in the PETS FOR ADOPTION section of the classified ads. They all made adoption seem a much less impersonal way to replace my old friend than plain purchase at a pet shop. But they were wrong.
The first advertiser I called was patently insane, so I returned to the newspaper and found another. This one offered what seemed just the thing: "Kittens, Maltese, will deliver." I called promptly and asked if any were still available. "We'll talk about that later," she said. "I have some questions first."
She did indeed. After getting my name, address and phone number, she asked if I had any children. I said no, and the answer seemed to please her. Next she wanted to know if I worked. My affirmative answer did not win any points. There was a pause. "If you're thinking you can't afford a cat," she said at last, "they don't eat that much."
"I know," I replied weakly—adding that I had had a cat before. There followed another long and pregnant pause.
April 13, 1970
"What," my inquisitor then wanted to know, "happened to it?"
"Happened to what?" I asked.
"Your last cat." I told her he had died—at the age of 14½.
"And just what did he die of?" she asked sharply.
I was tempted to say I had forgotten to put on his shin guards before I kicked him but I settled for telling her "old age."
There was another pause, after which the lady announced that I was indeed deserving of a kitten—if only she had one to give me, but she did not.
After that, several weeks passed as friends, hearing of my plight, assured me they had friends with just the kitten I needed. Unfortunately all the friends' friends were fresh out of kittens.
Just as I was deciding on one last try at the classified, another friend reported seeing a gray kitten for sale in a pet shop in Greenwich Village. I hurried down.
The gentleman in charge was not remotely interested in my private life. He gave me papers to sign relieving the shop of responsibility, took my money, wished me luck, and that was that. I picked up my kitten, said thank you and left.
Several days later, feeling very smug with my new pet on my lap, I read an ad offering kittens for adoption. "Rigid requirements," it warned.
Did I only fancy that my kitten and I exchanged a smile?