I thought of pretending I wasn’t home, because I knew why my neighbors were pounding at my door. But I knew I’d have to face them eventually. So I mustered up as much courage as possible and stepped onto the front stoop.
“So, you think it’s okay to take someone else’s cat?” Jake was belligerent.
I measured my words carefully. Another neighbor had told me a few days before that the kitten “really doesn’t belong to anyone anymore,” indicating that Jake and Clarissa had abandoned her. I believed the neighbor, since I saw Zoey outside all the time. I’d tried to catch Jake and Clarissa to ask them if it was still their kitten, but they were never around. Now it had come to this: a confrontation.
“She was hurt,” I said. “I had to get her to the vet. I haven’t seen you around. I didn’t think you wanted her anymore.”
“We’re around. We just don’t come out of out apartment a lot.” Jake was doing all the talking, while Clarissa hung back and played with her phone.
“She’s too little to be outside all the time,” I said, trying not to sound argumentative. “She could get hit by a car or mauled by a dog.” I immediately wondered whether I should have included that last part, recalling that the couple owned a pair of pit bulls. (Which, unlike the kitten, they kept in the house.)
“You can’t control a cat if it wants to go outside,” Jake scoffed.
“Yeah.” Clarissa finally spoke up. “Whenever I open the door, she scoots right past my legs before I can stop her.”
“Can I keep her while she heals, at least?” I was losing this argument and losing hope.
“Well… if I give her back, will YOU keep her indoors until she gets better?”
“No! She’s going right back outdoors, where she wants to be.” Joe stomped away. “I’m gonna call the law!”
“Wait!” I cried. “I’ll go get her.”
This shut them up.
With the heaviest of hearts, I went upstairs, where Zoey was resting on the bed, unaware of the drama that was transpiring one floor below.
I scooped up the tiny kitten and brought her outside, where Jake and Clarissa were waiting. I knew they were right. Even though I disagreed with the way they were raising the cat, it was their animal. Just because I’d gotten Zoey veterinary care didn’t give me any legal rights to her.
I held my breath as I handed the kitty over to Jake, wondering what would happen next…
To be continued.