A Boy, His Cat, and the Nexus
by Mel Gilden
Ten or eleven years ago I lived in an apartment complex where pets were not allowed. You could probably get away with a bird in a cage, but dogs and cats were definitely frowned upon.
Even so, I had a trio of indoor cats that the management didn't know anything about, and daily I went outside to feed any strays that might be around. Generally the strays kept their distance from the food I put out until I backed away to what the cats considered a safe distance. All except one little guy.
He (I learned his gender later) was an orange tabby who was barely out of kittenhood. Even while I was putting out the crunchies, he came over and boinked me in the hip with his head. A very friendly guy.
I went upstairs, and a few minutes later I heard howling in the hallway outside my door. I looked outside and found that the little orange guy was the culprit, and he was demanding to be let in. I imagined that he wasn't demonstrating true love, but that he had connected me with food.
I could either allow him to keep howling — for who knows how long? — and probably be carried off eventually by animal control, or I could let him inside. Even if I'd wanted another cat, letting him inside was a problem. He might have diseases that I did not care to share with the three cats I already lived with.
So I called Ms. Laurie and asked her what I should do. She suggested something I should have thought of myself: to let him in and keep him in the bathroom until I had him checked by a vet. So that's what I did.
The vet said that he was clean, though for reasons I do not recall he also took X-rays. Apparently, some of his organs were not where they were normally located in a cat. Still, everything was functioning, so I took him home and let him loose in the apartment. Being something of a Trekkie, I called him James T. Katt, T for Tiberius, just like the T in Captain James T. Kirk.
James T. was a sweetheart, but he had a few unfortunate quirks, the worst of which was that he peed all over the place instead of just in his box. I don't know why he did this. I've since guessed that this unfortunate habit was the reason he was on the street in the first place. But despite the problems, I liked him; I couldn't find it in my heart to put him back outside.
I had James T. for ten years. During some of that time he actually used his box, and I thought that my patience had cured him. But then he would water the curtains again. Heavy sigh.
Then, suddenly, and I mean suddenly, he became lethargic and he stopped eating. The vet took a blood sample and we learned that his kidneys were in very bad shape. I have since been told that cats are prone to this sort of problem. Anyway, by the end of the week it was obvious that he was very unhappy and not likely to get better. Ms. Laurie and the vet and I agreed that it would be kinder to put him down, so we did.
It was a sad moment for all, but I've been telling myself a little fairy story that James T. has gone to live in the Nexus. (In Star Trek Generations, Captain Kirk was sucked into a space/time anomaly called the Nexus. While there he relived parts of his past, rode horses, and conspired with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to save the universe. It was implied that Kirk would be happy there forever.)
I like to think James T. the cat has also gone to the Nexus, where he will learn to ride a horse and be happy forever. I don't really know, of course, but I am hopeful.
JT at the kitty portal to the Nexus