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As I rush along Boulder Creek on a sunny Saturday, on my way home from work and eager to start the weekend, what looks to be a small tiger interrupts my long-legged pace. It’s a cat, fierce-looking and collarless, that has entangled himself around my ankles. This guy is gorgeous with a shining orange coat, striped black, and, better yet, he seems to be confessing his love to me through thick-throated purrs. Never has a cat welcomed me so exuberantly, showing me that he is not as wild as the term “tiger” may imply.
Immediately I find myself in love. My first thought is how to smuggle him home while avoiding the pain of probable protest from the feline. The second is, whose cat is this anyway?
Boulder is a community of animal lovers, but not all animals make it to that “forever home,” as the Humane Society of Boulder Valley terms it. Students come and go, and some who come in with a pet have to leave without it. Leaving a pet behind is not right nor desirable, but sometimes it just happens.
So, what is a person to do who stumbles across an obviously once-loved pet? Do you leave him and hope that he is on a self-ordained walk? Do you take him home and hope your landlord doesn’t notice the fur-covered furniture or the smell? Or do you take him to the Humane Society and leave the responsibility with them, deciding not to ask about his adoption progress?
These are important questions that I myself was asking two days ago, while my roommate and I were trying our hardest to convince this tiger cat to let us capture him – to no avail. Tiger cat, or “Raja” as we named him, is presumably prowling the creek right now, beautiful but slim, and looking for another friendly person to infatuate.
As an off and on volunteer at the Humane Society, I know there are a lot of Rajas out in the universe, and that’s a problem. Not only is it problematic and dangerous for the abandoned animals themselves who aren’t used to hunting on their own or teaching themselves to not run in front of traffic, but it’s an issue for humans too. For safety and health reasons, feral and stray pets aren’t a welcome sight. Nobody likes being confronted at night by a scared and lonely dog or being surprised by a possibly ill cat leaping out of the nearby dumpster.
The next time you see a street walker, pick him up and don’t keep him unless you are really ready for the decade-plus commitment. But think about it. As a college person – who hardly knows where life will lead tomorrow, let alone years down the line – is an impromptu decision to adopt a stray really the best reflection of your education? Take that gorgeous guy to the Humane Society, even if he looks content lounging in the leaf litter by Boulder Creek. In the long run, it’s the best bet for you and the newly wild, domestic pet.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kitty Winograd at Katrina.firstname.lastname@example.org.