“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
A Streetcar Named Desire ~ Tennessee Williams
I think it was Blanche Dubois who said this – fragile and alone in the world.
Today I was thinking that so many kitties are on the streets, in colonies, or barely subsisting based on the kindness of strangers. Their very lives hang in the balance… caught in a forever-cycle of overpopulation and hunger. Sometimes a fleeting kindness is all you can offer.
Last year I made a dream trip to Turkey. Dragging my big suitcase along a cobbled Istanbul street, I sat down for a rest and watched as three early 20’s fed cheese to a growing group of cats. Some kittens, some older, some timid, some aggressive. I was so happy to see this! These cats were getting a good treat of protein. I was smiling and the young man on the bench beside me surprised me by speaking in perfect English saying ” It’s cheese – they won’t eat anything else”. Really? Yes. They had tried other things. And so this group of travelers from Lebanon had gone to a store and bought a whole pack of cheese expressly to feed these cats. A genuine act of kindness.
In a lonely Cappadocian outpost I was feeding the cat who I was told would scratch me when a fellow traveler walked up. We were talking cats before I knew it, and he wasn’t even from our group. He was from San Fran and was thanking me for making the most of the typical tourist buffet by sharing it with felines. I never did get scratched, and the little cat got a bellyful of cold-cuts.
At the Ankara museum, I ran off to retrieve some meat I’d stashed in the bus, and when I returned to the cat sitting so happily on my spouse’s lap, he was deep in conversation with a British couple about cats in general. The cat, who was quite happy to sit and just be petted, discovered that there was a treat at the end. The real wonder was how easily cat lovers converse.
Dog lovers meet and greet all the time. It’s a social pet-ownership club – they meet at dog parks, walk their dogs together, meet at the corner and stop for a chat. Cat lovers are more solitary. I have yet to meet someone else out walking their cat! Are cat owners not as social? Well the Internet can tell the tale of very social people who love cats… cats are all over!
I’ve heard it said that the character of a man (or woman!) can be seen in how they treat someone who can do nothing for them. This stuck with me and I believe it to be true. There are people of the best character working in cat rescue, feeding colonies, doing what they can do. And yes, those who just stop to pet or treat a stray are doing a raindrop of good, but it’s that kindness that is capable of turning into a downpour.