This is my cat.
Well, sort of. She sleeps at the foot of my bed most nights, and I buy a brown bag of organic cat food for her twice a month. I am intimately acquainted with how much she sheds (my living room carpet, already unmistakably thrifted, now bears a thin layer of gray hair to further label it as well-used). I didn’t name her; my two roommates did that. They called her Dusty; I begrudgingly accepted. (Naming gray cats after gray objects has been one of my pet peeves since childhood. Why not name them something interesting that only hints at their cloudy color, like Bruce Wayne or Anchovy?)
Last week, when she jumped up at 6:30 AM and began pawing at me to let her out, the reality of her nose poking my face and the dream I was having about reporting a story merged into a vision of her as an up-and-coming cat reporter eager to get the first morning scoop. (I’m serious. In my dream she was wearing an old-fashioned press hat and poking me with a reporter’s notebook.)
In short, this cat has become a big part of my life, which I never expected when I first put out a slice of prosciutto for her on my front porch. But because of certain clauses in my lease, and the across-the-street neighbor who may or may not still feed the cat (which she is ‘watching temporarily’ for her daughter), I cannot call her mine. I can’t even commit to taking her to the vet, even though I suspect she has fleas and she remains disturbingly skinny.
In a few months, I’ll move to a new house, which, like my current one, doesn’t allow pets. I’m not sure if the next-door neighbor will resume feeding Dusty, or if she’ll allow her to sleep on the foot of her bed. I’m not sure how morally questionable it is that I have every intention of continuing to feed and cuddle and Instagram the cat on daily basis. Maybe I’ll just leave a can of tuna on my new front porch and hope she finds her way.