One night, I walked into the Brookline Police Station to contest an overnight parking ticket I had received. I sat along the wall opposite where the hearings were being held. Several other people were waiting with me for their turn at the hearings.
A door to my left swung open. An officer walked partway into the room and said:
“Does anybody want a kitten?”
I looked down to see a gray face with blue eyes peeking out of his pocket. I started to fidget and silently tell myself that bringing home a kitten was entirely off limits. I already had two cats, Jolie who was 4 years old and Misha who was 2 years old.
Several moments later, the officer spoke again, “Well, if no one wants it, I’ll take it to the MSPCA.”
I no longer remember whether the kitten sneezed right before or after the officer said he was taking it to the MSPCA. In my heart, I heard a cry, “They’re gonna kill it!”. I immediately spoke up, “I’ll take it!”.
The officer walked over to a table that was in the middle of the room against a support pole and put the kitten on the table. The kitty started to walk around the table and everyone who was in the room gathered around.
Opposite from me at the table, an older Jewish man engaged me in conversation, “Is there anyone you need to ask before you bring the kitten home?”
I replied, “Oh, no. We’re not asking. We’re just going to go home with it.”
The older man said, “What are you going to name him?” I told him that I did know yet.
The man turned to the officer and asked, “What’s your name, Officer?”
The officer replied, “Officer Hunter.” The name could not have been more perfect for a kitten. I figured the universe was colluding to help me bring home an already-named kitten.
I decided aloud, “Then I’ll name him Hunter.”
The officer got me a box with a lid so that I could drive home to Malden without worrying about a kitten climbing all over the car or, Goddess forbid, go under the brake pedal when I was driving.
For a tiny kitten, he howled the entire 25 minute drive back to my home. I carefully picked up the box from the seat and walked up to the second floor landing in front of our door. I knocked. Mark opened the door and looked at me.
I said, “If you let me keep this one, I promise I won’t bring home any more stray cats. Three will be the limit.”
Mark looked at me and scowled. Then he stepped aside to let me into the house. Because I didn’t know what kind of illness the kitten may have, I decided to keep him in the bedroom separate from the other cats, and I brought him into the vet the next day.
Hunter was approximately 7 weeks old. He had fleas and ear mites. After getting an exam and a flea bath, I brought him home. Here are a couple of photos during this time. These are the ones that I have of him.
For the next month, Hunter lived in the bedroom. I was managing the rehab of our unit so I was staying home to deal with workmen. Hunter got a lot of affection and play from me. At night, he would often sleep on my pillow or he would crawl on my chest, sit down, and purr. He quickly became my baby and my favorite.
Eighteen years later, Hunter is still with us. Jolie and Misha have gone over the Rainbow Bridge. Norman and Gwennycakes are now the 3 and a half year old younguns. Whereas Hunter was Misha’s whipping boy, he definitely put down his paw when alpha kitty Normie joined the household and thought he could just get his way.
For an old man cat, I have yet to see Hunter give Normie the upper hand even as his health has significantly declined since December 2013 as a result of chronic renal failure.
Late last month, we celebrated a few family birthdays. One of my sisters took this incredible photo of Hunter:
As he’s aged and, especially, since he’s gotten more ill, his gray fur has turned brown, as you can see. His eyes are alert, he still knows us, and he gets so excited about meat and treats that you’d think he was a young cat again.
We give him subcutaneous fluids twice a day, Prednilosone twice daily for inflammatory bowel issues, and Procreit three times a week to help stimulate his blood production. He recently was diagnosed with very low blood in his system. Chronic renal failure means that, at some point, the kidneys may no longer make or make enough hormone to stimulate blood production. We went with Procreit and bypassed the blood transfusion hoping that it will work.
I bring him in next week for a checkup. We’re just keeping an eye on him, treating him as much as we can, and enjoying the time we have left with him.
He just screamed at me from the shadows of my desk to let me know that he wanted food. After jumping out of my seat and grabbing my heart, I laughed. Even if I have to take the step of having him euthanized, it will be worth every minute of joy and worry that has blessed my life all because I got a ticket in Brookline and went to the station one night to contest it.
I love you, Hunter.