The Hank Saga

We adopted Hank sometime in the early spring of 2018. We didn’t mean to, because we had no immediate plans to adopt a pet of any kind that day, or even soon. My fiance and I, Sarah, like to walk into pet stores to look at the pets and pick them up and cuddle them if we can. To think we almost didn’t pick Hank, as I had my eyes set on an entirely different cat named Silas, and Sarah was looking at an all black cat named Charlotte. Silas was enormous and sat in his cage making him look more like he was wearing the cage, like a tightly-fit costume. He reached out with his paws begging me for attention, so naturally I freaked out with excitement wanting to meet the fat, furrball. I asked if they could let him out in the little room for me and Sarah to meet. Silas was not just enormous and fluffy though, he was also a monster, a demon, a hellspawn, a possessed creature of incurable evil, attacking me as though I were the cause of his orphaned lifestyle. He gnawed on my hand and wrist and arm, not playfully, but vengefully, drawing blood at one point. I didn’t hate Silas, I couldn’t, because he didn’t know any better. Something or someone was to blame for his reaction to me. But I got the feeling if we left with him that day, the marriage would not last. Sarah and I both were thinking the same thing at the same time, one of our gifts(as many spiritually destined couples traversing eternally through Hell have).

And then we saw him, laying down in his cage. His name was Tobey then, and he looked thin, underfed, and exhausted in the eyes. He was a cat being held in the arms of a fucking angel. The volunteer lady watching the cats told us he’d been there in the shelter for a while, several months, while Silas had only just arrived. No hate for Silas, but that was one of the deciding factors which led us to pick Tobey. He’d been waiting and waiting, and if we didn’t do something about it now, he’d probably be waiting even longer. The lady looking after all the cats told us he’d been picked up off the street of Philly, having probably been abandoned some time ago due to him already being fixed. That alone added to the sadness in his face.

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The lady put Silas back, much to his ire, and let Tobey out of his cage. Tobey immediately warmed up to us. There was no biting, no struggle. I looked to my fiance and we both filled out the paperwork for the adoption application. Long story short, we were approved and my fiance picked him up a couple days later while I was at work. She said he was standing on top of the cat carrier the day she went to get him. He was ready, he knew exactly what was going on. When I got home from work that day, he was asleep in the bed next to her. It was perfect.

Tobey was his old name, and while he did look like a Tobey, I have to admit I’d always wanted a cat named Hank. And to tell ya the truth, Tobey, with his forlorn gazes and distance-traversing stares, not to mention his “no-shit-giving, give me fucking love” meows, looked much more like a Hank than a Tobey. So… Tobey ceased to be Tobey, and became Hank. He seemed to approve.

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Loving Hank was not a hard thing to do. He walked into our apartment like he’d lived there for years. He sniffed all corners of every room, walking the edges, rubbing up on things he thought he might want to rub up on later. And he snuggled like a long-lost lover. You could say Sarah and I, while being each other’s soulmates, found a new soulmate in Hank.

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There were times, however, when he displayed a slight apprehension and unsure demeanor about his newly acquired parents… it became obvious he’d never been caught in the warm and fuzzy, unprejudiced embrace of a hug before….

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He was quick to claim us though, conveying his approval, or at the very least a nihilistic acceptance, with his eyes and his meows and long, studious examinations from afar or up close. To him, we were two strange people who for some reason wanted nothing but to show him more love than he’d probably ever received. We tell him we love him all the time, a hundred times a day, kissing him on the head and making sure to acknowledge him every single time we see him, even if we’d already done so an hour ago. This guy needs it. We look out the window together from our third-story apartment. He watches TV with us, sometimes sitting below the screen staring up for hours at a time. We tell him he’s the best thing that ever happen to us, and we also call him an asshole when he’s being an asshole (all cats are assholes no matter how lovable they are). He’s developed a slightly different relationship with each of us, Sarah and myself, or to him, his mother and father. He seems to snuggle me more and play with her more, especially when she gets home from work. When she comes home after working all day he instantly cements his eyes on her, vying for her love, acknowledgement and at least a half hour or forty-five minutes of strictly “mom time”. It’s almost tear-jerking to watch how much love he gives us. When Sarah and I head to the bedroom for sleeps, Hank follows, snuggling between us in bed when he realizes we’ve retired to the boudoir for the night. He nestles in right in the middle as though we’ve made a nest for him out of our own bodies and almost immediately starts snoring away. I’m in bed now, actually, and Sarah is sleeping in because she doesn’t go to work until later. And Hank is sleeping curled up in a ball between us, breathing slowly and whimsically.

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We tried introducing him to a second cat, whom we named Lola, but there was still too much of the street running through Hank’s blood. There was hissing, growling, claws lashed out, and there was literal bloodshed between Hank and Lola. We had them separated for the most part to aid in the acclimation process, but after two months, Hank started to show a side of himself we never wanted to see again. He wasn’t himself, or at least his self we had grown to know. Ultimately we decided it was best to return Lola to the shelter in Delaware (which later we were informed she had been re-adopted by a family).

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Sarah and I will have conversations about Hank, saying besides moving into this apartment when we did, adopting Hank was the best thing we ever did. He’s the most loving feline bastard I’ve ever come in contact with. He sleeps with us every night and like a well-behaved street cat, stands on my neck (mostly around three in the morning) when he feels it’s time for him to eat.

42721227_165510281038331_8890985814897459200_o50454655_233280117594680_3952189546698899456_nHank, is somewhere between six and ten years old, an age we’ll surely never know exactly for sure. I wish I could have known what his life has been like, all the adventures he experienced on the street, I would very much like to know what evil people he was previously owned by and what the circumstances were leading up to his abandonment. I can’t imagine anyone waking up one day deciding to let Hank out of the house, or leaving him on the sidewalk in a box somewhere. This cat is a Saint, and a King among felines. I hope he still has a hundred years left to live, and I want to be there for every single one of them.

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About Dave Matthes

Writer and author of poetry and prose. Self-published author of eighteen books, with poetry published by Paper and Ink Zine, Analog Submission Press, and Hickathrift Press.
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