The Whole Kitten Caboodle

On a recent Saturday afternoon I opened my door to exit my apartment so I could walk to the nearby arthouse theater and watch something foreign or lewd, when my roommate said something that caused me to stop and converse with him briefly. The door remained open as we spoke, and as we did, our home was invaded by kittens.

Yes, kittens, two of them. They were very young, and they mewed in a most adorable fashion as they walked tentatively and curiously into my apartment, in much the same way as I had done when I moved in (though my mewing sounded more like, “Why is there an overhead light fixture in the water-heater closet but not in the living room?”). I glanced up and down the hall and saw no signs of an overbearing mother cat, nor of an angry dog, nor of a little girl in pigtails wearing her mother’s fancy hat and trailing a tea set behind her, nor any of the other reasons I could think of that two kittens might be on the run.

How did the kittens get into the building? Even if they knew the security code to access the main door, they wouldn’t have been able to reach the keypad to type it in. Why, it’s four feet off the ground, and these kittens were no more than six inches tall! Had they been assisted somehow? Had they loitered near the door until someone exited, then quickly scampered in before the door shut? And once they were inside, how had they made it up to the third floor? The elevator buttons, as with the security keypad, would be much too high for them to reach, and navigating the stairs would have been perilous for kittens of such little height. They must have had good reason for being there, to go to such trouble. Had they friends in our apartment building? Business to attend to? Were they hired goons there to make a kill, like John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in “Pulp Fiction”? Were these hit-kittens?

My roommate, Greg, and I discarded the last theory, not just because the kittens seemed to be carrying no weapons of any kind, but because they were the cutest li’l guys you ever did see. I’m allergic to cats, but not to kittens. I think it’s because kittens have not yet developed their dander, or their keen powers of evil, whatever it is specifically that I am allergic to. And so Greg and I were delirious under the power of the kittens’ adorability, cooing and chucking them under the chin and continue to wonder where they belonged.

This lasted for one minute. Then I really needed to leave if I was going to make the movie on time, and I don’t know what Greg was doing. Whatever his plans for the afternoon were, they did not include tending to misplaced kittens. They obviously were not strays; surely they belonged to someone in the building, probably on our floor. Someone was probably already sick with worry over their absence. So we, um, put them back into the hallway and closed the door. And I hurried to the elevator and made sure they did not follow me.

I want you to know, I was torn about this. I am not in the practice of abandoning lost animals, and even though I assumed they’d be found by their owners in a matter of minutes, I still worried about whether I should have stayed behind to see the matter through. But if I missed this screening of the movie, I’d have had to wait until Monday. Why throw your entire schedule out of whack just because someone can’t keep track of his pets?

When I got home a couple hours later, the kittens were not in the hallway anymore. On the door of the Korean family who lives down the hall from me was this sign: “Found two kittens. If kittens are you please knock door.” Now, see, this is what I would have done if I’d been able to stick around: welcome the kittens into my home (well, let them stay there, I guess, since they’d already barged in) and put up signs announcing my discovery of them. I probably wouldn’t have used that exact wording, no, but the idea would have been the same. My Korean neighbors seemed to have the right —

Hang on. The Korean family had custody of the kittens? My mind raced. Do Korean people ACTUALLY eat cats, or is that just one of those racist stereotypes (“racist” here being defined, as it usually is in modern America, as “something that makes reference to a race, whether negative, positive or neutral”)? What had I done?! Had my insistence on getting to the movie on time consigned the kittens to death? Were they even now sitting in a big black cauldron over a fire as the Koreans cut up carrots and potatoes to make a stew, like Bugs Bunny in “Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt” (1941)?

I calmed myself. If the neighbors were planning to eat the kittens, they wouldn’t have put a sign on the door. They’d have simply whisked the cats inside with a glance up and down the hall to make sure there were no witnesses and commenced cooking. Still, what if the owner didn’t come in time?

Later that evening, I noticed the sign was gone. Either the kittens’ owner had come and knocked the door, as directed, or else the kittens had been dispatched in some other, more culinary manner. I guess I’ll never know what actually became of them. But if they were eaten, I’d like to think they were as delicious as they were adorable.

It is not uncommon, of course, for some Asian cultures to eat cats and dogs. I've never had either, but I assume they taste like chicken, like everything else. I wouldn't be opposed to trying dog or cat sometime, as long as I had not known the animal prior to its demise. But then, I have the same policy with anything animal I eat. It's how people who like animals as a general rule can go on eating them.

Between the kittens and the goose I saw one time and the raccoon I saw another time, it was like an episode of "Wild Kingdom" at my apartment complex! We had fruit flies, too, but I'm not sure those count.