I take a walk every evening. When I came home the other night, I saw a flash of fuzz peek out from the bedroom door and then dart back inside.
“Uh….what was that?” I said.
“She followed me home, can we keep her?” Ryan said (kinda).
If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re cat people. There are a lot of stray cats around our campus, and we regularly joke about stealing one for ourselves. In the summertime the area behind the house is filled with cute little kitties, and last year another cat-crazy teacher even carried sausage in her bag at all times so she could feed every wild kitty she saw.
So Ryan told me what happened. He said this cat had followed him halfway across campus and it was basically destiny that the cat should be ours. “She chose me,” Ryan said. (Turns out it didn’t so much follow as half-followed and was half-carried.)
Last year another foreign teacher got a dog, and at first we were appalled. “Foreigner shouldn’t have pets,” we told him. “Our lives are too unsettled, we can change schools at any time, and what about when you go back home?” But owning the dog turned out to be good thing. He brought her everywhere he went (except class) and when he went to another school he had no problems bringing her with him.
So could we do it? Could we really own a cat? Before I even began to consider it I checked to see how easy it is to bring a pet to America. Turns out it is pretty easy with just a few shots and paperwork necessary. With that major hurdle passed I began really thinking of the possibility of keeping her. She was skinny, but playful and friendly, sitting on our laps, purring, kneading our legs. “She’s too trusting to live in the wild,” Ryan reasoned. “She won’t live much longer if we don’t take care of her.” We had vision of us riding a bike with her in the basket, bringing her to our classes, cuddling with her on cold winter nights. Yeah, why couldn’t we keep her.
And then reality set in. The point of living in China is to have more freedom. This job allows 4 months off every year and we take advantage of that by packing up our bags and hitting the road. We’ve been to 24 cities all over China, and have plans to go further afield to places like Vietnam and Tibet in our upcoming holidays. What would we do with the cat then? Ryan suggested the students could help us. “They could come over and feed her and change the litter.”
“But what about heat in the winter? Or a/c in the summer?” I answered. It was just too unpractical.
And what about our future plans? We might not want to go back to the US when we are finished with China. Maybe we’ll teach English in Japan, or Korea, or maybe we’ll move to San Francisco, or even, I don’t know, Reykjavik. That’s the point: I don’t know. But I do know I don’t want out choices limited because of a cat. Even a really cute a friendly cat.
So, after our one night together we set her go. Ryan was going to walk her back to the place he found her, but when they reached the bottom of the stairs, she took off into a storage room and wouldn’t come out. I think it’s for the best.