The first time I met my cat, Boba, I was on my way home from work.
It was pretty early in my position at my current job, long before my promotions and during the time it was still okay to come in out of dress code to work on the Monday morning shipment. Roughly two years ago, I think.
It was nearly a half an hour drive home back then, and the route I took was relatively scenic. This meant I saw a lot of… things… on the sides of the roads. Dilapidated couches, abandoned cars… and then the animals. Usually skunks, the occasional deer, racoon or two. But my heart breaks whenever I see a dog, or a cat. Not that it doesn’t when I see anything else, don’t get me wrong! But just think, that dog might have belonged to someone. He might have been loved and cared for and had his own little bed, but happened to sneak out of the yard that day.
Now that I’ve begun the emotional scarring- let us continue.
When I first saw Boba, I thought he was dead. He was lying in the middle of the road, his head hiding in his paws, half in the turn lane and half out. I remember spotting him only after another car swerved around him- gasping aloud as I quickly evaded him, not wanting to make a poor animal’s death even worse by running him over. My hand instinctively reached for the volume knob, thinking for some reason that would help me see better as I peeked back at him in my rearview mirror.
And what I first thought was a trick of the eyes, I watched as Boba cringed as another car zoomed past him only inches away from his tiny paws.
Now, lets get something straight. I’m not a cat person. I have had dogs my entire life, and a grand total of three cats (not including my boyfriend’s cat, Vader, due to the fact that at the time he hated me for moving in with his hooman) over 18 years. Now that I’m twenty, I’m still not a cat person. The only cats I like are my own and that’s because they’re more like dogs that happen to meow.
But- I’m not heartless. I remember for a moment thinking- I could leave him. I could pretend I didn’t see him, and go on with my day as the guilt silently ate away at my conscience until I cried. I couldn’t afford another animal and I already had just bought Obi from the back of some racist old man’s truck a few months prior. My Mom was chastising my decision to get another pet, despite doting on her grandpup like he was a real baby.
“God damnit.” I remember muttering after a moment as I flicked on my blinker, and pulled into the turn lane. By now, I was probably about a football field and half away from the kitten in the road. I waited patiently for traffic to clear enough for me to pull an illegal u-turn, ready to curse this cat if I got caught and was issued a ticket, my eyes shifting back to look at him every now and then to make sure he hadn’t been squashed by a passing car.
He hadn’t moved an inch, other than the fact that he had now lifted his head. Definitely alive, I noted. I silently hoped he didn’t have any injuries, knowing I didn’t have the money to take him to the vet for anything extensive.
When traffic finally allowed me to turn around (no ticket!) I pulled to the opposite side of the road of Boba, put on my hazards, and patiently waited to cross the road, hoping my car didn’t get hit in the process of rescuing this damn cat.
But of course, Boba didn’t make it easy to catch him. Once I finally was able to cross the road and reach the turn lane, that damn cat turned around and stared at me like I was the devil- and to be honest, if the roles were reversed and I was the one being rescued, I’d shit myself too. Just like he had in the road (in case you cared to know that, but come on, even ants poop).
That bastard ran across the road just as before a car came screaming past us, causing even myself to jump at it’s speed. Boba ran for it, forgetting all the safety of his spot on the road and bolted for the field across the road. I recall standing there, posed to pounce on him, prepared to scrape up my knees and palms to catch this little f*cker, and what does he do? He runs away from me.
But, I still can’t leave him. I saw how skinny he was. He wasn’t taken care of, he feared me, and I could see the fleas on him even before I finally caught him. Obviously slightly feral, and blinded by fear. I ran after that little shit, angry that I might lose him in the high grass. But here’s the thing about Boba-
I know for a fact he does NOT know how to cat. He wasn’t sneaky from the very beginning.
I could hear him over the sounds of traffic trampling through the high grass, huffing in tiny little breaths due to being extremely afraid. A man in a truck pulled over to ask me if I was okay, and I quickly waved him off, not explaining that I was chasing a cat, but instead making myself look insane by holding my hands up in the air and yelling “I’M FINE!” as I tried to keep my eyes on this cat. He drove away saying he would circle back around in five minutes to check and see if I was still there.
I told him thank you as nicely as I could, but continued to watch Boba- who froze when I yelled, scared of the noise. He still freaks out when I yell to this very day.
But you know what I do not advise? Pouncing on a scared kitten. I used to try to do this with escaped cats when I volunteered at the local animal shelter (for a grand two weeks, turns out thirteen year old me was not a good citizen). They will hurt you. They will bite, they will yowl, and those claws are made to f*ck you up. After standing there, staring at this cat, waiting for him to stop hyperventilating- I slowly removed my flannel shirt. I wear them often, t-shirt underneath, and this time it came in handy.
The best way to catch a cat- is to throw a blanket over it. 80% of the time, the cat will freeze, suddenly confused by the darkness. And, the plus side is- it can’t scratch you if you’re careful. The other 20% of the time I can not guarantee the same results. Also, I am not a trained professional. Do this at your own risk, and don’t sue me.
I did exactly that. I tossed that damn shirt over Boba and quickly snatched him up, grabbing his scruff through the flannel and quickly wrapping it around him. I didn’t want him to harm himself, or me, not knowing if he was so wild that he would hurt me- but I had the distinct feeling that he wouldn’t. He was too scared.
I ran with him bundled up in my arms back across the road, hopped in my car, and sat there for a moment with the air conditioning on blast. It was silent in the car besides the sounds of cars whooshing past outside. I had half expected him to be a mewling idiot, but he just layed there in his bundle, eyes probably wide open as he shook in the flannel shirt. I called Austin, letting him know I would be home late- because I caught a cat. Then called my Aunt, who worked at the animal shelter on weekends and was the epitome of an animal woman. My whole life my Aunt has had animals in place of children, and I’m more than happy to follow that path with her. I quietly checked on Boba- whom I had idiotically assumed to be a girl like I do with all cats- and he stared up at me for a moment from under the shirt.
Like most malnourished cats, he was balding in front of his ears, and his face had a sphinx-like quality to it due to it’s sallowness. His little kitten nose was bright pink, and his eyes and ears looked positively massive compared to the rest of his face. I could see fleas moving around in his ears as he cowered back into the shirt, and quickly covered him back up, now aware that he felt safer under cover of the shirt. If he couldn’t see me, to his little kitty mind, I wasn’t there.
I took him to my Grandma’s, where my Aunt was currently working in the shop behind her house, and she said he looked fine other than the fleas and the malnourishment. She asked if I was going to keep him.
I didn’t know at this point that despite the fact I said no, I wasn’t going to ever give him away.
After a quick introduction to my Grandmother and trying to offer him little bits of chicken, my Grandma sent us off with an old cat bed her old kitty Toki didn’t like, and I tucked him up in it for the ride home.
On the way back, we passed the spot he was in the road, and I noted that he could have easily been there a few days from now, just not alive.
When we got home, I immediately gave him a bath. I went through half a bottle of dawn soap getting all those fleas off, and slapped some flea medicine from our other cat on him as soon as his fur was dry. He certainly didn’t like it, but I wasn’t about to risk my other animals getting fleas from him.
At this point, I realized how bad Boba’s reclusive ways actually were.
He refused to leave his bed. I had covered it with a blanket and he didn’t come out for anything. Not food, not water, not anything. He didn’t have anything in him to vomit or excrete. I literally had to force food down his throat despite his fear of me, scared that he was going to starve. I would sit in my bedroom for hours on end, spending time on my computer as I sat at my desk, waiting for Boba to poke his head out on his own. I’d feed him, then leave him alone. I’d sneak him to Vader’s litter box past the dogs (though they were seemingly acutely aware of the new animal in the house) and then he’d go back to his bed, shaking.
I will admit, I got impatient. I couldn’t afford to keep him, but if he was this afraid of humans, there was no way I was going to be able to give him away. No one would want a cat that was this afraid of them to the point where they had to carry them to the litter box with a blanket around them.
I started taking him out of his bed, wrapped in his blanket, and placing him in front of me as I worked on my homework. Luckily, school was only two days a week for me at the time. I was only working one day a week due to being a new hire. I spent as much time with Boba as I possibly could to get him acclimated to people. I was persistent. I would pet him from between his blanket, and his tiny little body would freeze. After a while, he was brave enough to peek up at me from the folds of the blanket, but if I looked at him, he would hide again. If Austin walked into the room, he would dart into his bed, and stuff his head into the corner of the square bed with the same philosophy as when I had first put him in my car: “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me.” When Austin’s mom came over and confirmed that he was indeed a boy, he looked like he was about to shit himself when she picked him up. He froze like a corpse and his eyes were MASSIVE.
It might have taken months to get him to get used to just myself, and years to finally warm up to Austin, but he managed. After two months at our place in Moody, we got him neutered, and apparently that sealed the deal. I couldn’t get rid of him. He was too afraid of others, and he had just warmed up to our cat Vader, and Vader somewhat to him. Our dogs were curious about him, but he was still slightly afraid of our more rambunctious Obi.
I’ve had Boba in my life for two years now, and he’s greatly improved since his days of hiding from me in a cat bed under his safety blanket (my flannel shirt). He greets my roommate and Austin with enthusiasm if he wants to go out, he demands cuddles from me constantly. He does my absolute favorite thing where he meets me halfway if he’s wanting pets, and stands on his hind legs to let me scratch his head.
But, I’m still not a cat person. If I had a choice, I would never adopt another cat. But would I run after Boba again?
We didn’t get another cat after Vader passed away, but I did notice Austin showing Boba Fett more affection. And Boba was happy to receive it. When Boba had slowly emerged from his shell, he didn’t know how to clean himself or catch bugs like most cats would, he isn’t a light sleeper (I panicked the first time I realized this). Vader taught him just by watching- and now his friend was gone. He’s wanted much more attention since then, but we don’t mind. We love him and understand that he needs it, just like he did when he first arrived in our home.
Why did I name him Boba Fett? Well, we have a theme. The cats were Sith, and the dogs are Jedi. Vader was an all black cat. Austin started the theme by appropriately naming him “Vader”. Boba wasn’t as easy. I wasn’t about to call him Greedo, and he certainly wasn’t weird looking enough to name him Palpatine. So I picked Boba. He’s not necessarily a Sith, but he is widely viewed as a ‘bad guy’ in Star Wars. Read this tale to get the back story on Boba Fett.
Basically, the sarlacc pit was the road for my cat. He escaped, he lived, and was nurtured back to health by a stranger.
But that’s it! If you’ve read this until the end, holy crap. How did you do it? I’m just rambling along and you’re still here?!
Thanks for reading!