Man’s search for meaning and feral cats


Feeding frenzy.

My feral cats hadn’t been fed in five day, so I knew they were getting hungry.  I had spent the previous five days sleeping in a doorway downtown because of the rain.  So I was eager to get back up to my campsite and feed the little rugrats.  The weather report said there was a good chance of showers coming down in the middle of the night.  But I was willing to take the risk of getting soaked to feed my cats.

I could hear the cats meowing frantically in the woods before I even left the main road and headed up the trail.  They immediately had spotted me. They had been waiting for me at the foot of the trail for five days.  So now they were in a frenzy as their most cherished dream was about to come true.  Food!  Moo Cat ran up to me as soon as I reached the trail, rubbing back and forth against my ankles.  As I staggered up the muddy trail, I had to be careful I didn’t step on her and squash her as she kept darting in between my legs.  “Scoot!  Scoot!”

When I got to my campsite, the three feral kittens were also waiting there in the darkness.  I opened up a big can of cat food and a bunch of cans of sardines, and they went nuts for that.  Then we all went to sleep, amidst much contented purring.

About 3 hours later I was woken up by the pitter-patter of raindrops falling on my head.  Pretty soon the rain was pouring down pretty hard.  I roused myself in the darkness — still half-drunk and hungover from last night — and started frantically packing up my campsite before all my blankets got soaked.  Which they did.


Right on cue, Blondie — one of my favorite feral cats — showed up.  She had been gone for at least ten days.  I’m not sure where she disappeared to (probably out tramping with some tom).  So I was relieved to see her ( I worry about them cats).  Even though the rain was really starting to come down, I took out a big can of chunk baloney for Blondie.  I knew she was desperately hungry because she kept swiping at the can with her claws as I struggled in the rain to open the can with my crappy can-opener.  Finally I dumped out the food and a couple more cans of sardines.  Which Blondie devoured.  And of course Fatty the feral kitten had to get in on the action, too, even though she had already been fed twice.  I swear, that cat never stops eating !

And now came the worst part of the ordeal.  The mile-long hike back to civilization.  With no way to shield myself from the rain until I finally got to an awning downtown.  Usually, at times like this, as I proceeded to get soaked to the bone, my mental state would be in one of two modes:  a.) screaming rages (cursing the gods and etc.) or b.) suicidal despair (“WHAT A FUCKING LOSER I AM!!”)

But tonight, I felt strangely satisfied. I guess because I knew there was a good chance I would get soaked.  But it was worth it to feed my cats.

It reminded me of something I had once read:  “Man can endure unimaginable suffering if he believes it is in the service of a noble cause.”

So it occurred to me.  If your life has some kind of purpose, it makes the suffering a lot easier to bare. . .  Now I’m not saying that there’s anything incredibly heroic about feeding a bunch of feral cats.  But the fact is, I was feeling pretty darn good, pretty darn proud of myself, in spite of the wretched situation I was in.  So I filed away that little tid-bit of knowledge in the back of my mind. Because, face it, any psychological trick that helps alleviate our suffering is worth remembering.

I bought a to-go cup of coffee at Subways.  And made my way to a nice, dry awning.  At this point, I was feeling very good about myself, and my life.  Until.  I reached into my backpack . . . to get my transistor radio . . . so that I might listen to the latest sports talk radio show while I enjoyed my morning cup of coffee and eased into my day . . . When I realized.  My transistor radio wasn’t in my back pack.  “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY TRANSISTOR RADIO?  WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?”

Then I remembered.  Last night I had my radio in a bag in my backpack.  And I also had a ham-and-cheese sandwich in the bag for my cats.  When I took out the bag to feed the cats, I probably forgot to put it back into my backpack.  So now, verily as I speak, my transistor radio is sitting on the ground up at my campsite.  In a big puddle of water. . . .




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