A couple of months ago, a cat sauntered into our living-room. It wasn't our cat. And he didn't walk through any open door that we could see. Strangely, he had come from the direction of the bedrooms, where there is no access to the outside.
He was a half-grown kitten, cement grey. Miraculously, when Mihiretu ran at him shrieking, he didn't run away. He ran toward Mihiretu with a leap, ready to play, something we'd never seen, or expected to see, from any small creature. "Wow," we said. "Brave."
The kitty had no collar and it quickly became apparent that he was still intact, so to speak. That he was very much a he. "Can we keep him?" the kids asked immediately. Ben and I groaned. We have two cats already. Two cats that pee on carpet and beds. One once took a poop on Ben's shoulder while he was sleeping. More cats we do not need. More living things of any variety, actually, be they goldfish, houseplants, even sea monkeys, would overwhelm us at the moment.
I assured the kids that the kitty didn't look skinny. When we offered him our cat food, he turned it down. Certainly he belonged to a neighbor. They called over the fence to the kids next door. Soon our backyard was full of children under ten, dragging bits of yarn, throwing super-balls, engineering homemade cat toys, all of which this amazing new kitty chased happily.
"What should we call him?" the kids asked. I noted that he was a particularly daring cat, seemingly afraid of nothing. Ben laughed and said, "Given that and the fact he hasn't been fixed, we should call him 'Ballsy'". The kids ran back outside, shouting, for all our rather conservative neighborhood to hear, "Ballsy! Come here, Ballsy!"
In the months since, Ballsy has become an institution. Every afternoon is spent searching for him, chasing him, being chased by him, urging him into trees or out of trees, turning our tribe of sometimes sparring children into one Ballsy-enthralled team. Mae and her friend next door, Emily, have decided he's "royalty" and that he's their "Mom, what's that thing? Like at school? With the bulldog? Oh, yeah, mascot."
His true home is still a mystery. Is he some sort of Jesus cat come to make peace among warring factions? Some sort of benevolent shapeshifter? An angel taking the form of a little grey kitty so that I can have thirty uninterrupted minutes to make dinner? Whoever he is, however he got here, I'll take it. As Mihiretu says, "I like it, Ballsy."