Cat in Color
I remember ten years ago. I was still a kitten, then. The lights and the colors and
the world were all so bright. My memories seem so distant – speckles of recollections
flash then fade in the back of my brain. A mother’s warm milk, my brothers and sisters
crawling over each other, fighting over the thing we needed most to keep us alive. But we
weren’t afraid of death back then. We weren’t afraid of anything, in fact “I can only
remember the feeling security I enjoyed for those first few days and weeks of my life.”1
We must’ve been on a farm. Other four-legged creatures with big eyes and pointy
ears lurked around in the fields. Some were bigger than others. Many were white and
black, like me. Others were fat and pink. Some hung out alone, others in groups. They all
reeked of manure.
We were already big enough to wander around the farm by ourselves when he put
up the “Free Kittens” sign. It wasn’t long afterwards that the old lady came, smelling of
stale mints and butterscotch. Her hair was golden, like the fields of wheat I was always
too scared to wander into – I was afraid I would never be able to find my way back out
The old lady looked at us closely. My brothers and sisters enjoyed her presence,
purring as she tickled them between their ears. But I kept my distance because I knew
how tricky those humans could be. I’d seen them around the farm. The little ones chased
me until I found a spot where even their tiny, furless paws couldn’t reach me. The bigger
ones usually ignored me. They kept their distance, so I kept mine. I liked being left alone.
A.N. Wilson, “A Kitten’s Recollections,” in Animal Humanities Course Anthology, ed.
Jerome Bump (Austin, Texas: 2012), 401
To my dismay the old lady took notice of me. She said things to me that I couldn’t
understand, but for some reason, I wasn’t scared. I let her pet me. She picked me up. I
regretted that, because before I knew it, I was leaving the farm.
Shortly after, we arrived at a large, white house on an endless plot of land. It
wasn’t as big as the farm, but there was definitely enough room to stretch my little kitten
legs. When she got out of the car, she left the door open. I was hesitant, but eventually
jumped out and found comfort under the front porch. She didn’t come looking for me, but
I could hear her rocking chair creaking on the wood panels above.
The place I once called “home”
I remained hidden for days. I was never sought for, and soon I realized how
lonely I was. Where were my brothers and sisters? My mom? I didn’t understand. I
looked for the answers each day, slowly moving further and further away from the
confines on the porch’s shelter. But every new sound sent me right back under to the
safety and security of the dark.
Life of a Scott, “dhouse,”
The old lady was sitting on the front porch when I finally made it to the big, white
house. She showed me her teeth. I licked my fur. I looked inside the house from the
porch. The sunlight was shining in the windows, illuminating an old southern home. It
looked like it was glowing. We were never allowed to go inside at the farm. The man
there called us “barn cats”. In nine years, the old lady never called me that. Instead, she
called me “Cookie”.
She was gentle and quiet. I don’t know if it was her innate calmness that soothed
me, or if it was the way the house always smelled like fallen leaves. She let me sit on her
lap as she played with yarn. When I felt mischievous, I’d claw at the ends of her
contraptions to which she’d respond by giggling and “shooing” me away. Slowly I grew
close to her – something I had never dreamed possible. But she was different. She was
Everything about her was yellow. She had sunflower hair and butterscotch breath,
and when I sat on her lap and she talked to me, sunlight reflected off of her skin. I never
understood what she was saying, or if she was saying anything at all. Sometimes I closed
me eyes and heard her bright singsong voice, soft and yellow and I was lulled to sleep,
purring as she stroked the fur behind my little, black ear. She talked to me underneath the
yellow stars. She made all the other colors fade. She was yellow.
Then one day she turned white. She grabbed the side of her chest. I meowed as
loudly as I could. Bright lights flashed and I hid under our bed, too scared to come out.
But two hands found me and I was ripped away from my home. Seven years had come
and gone too quickly. I guess seven years was all she had left.
Soon I found myself among many other cats, trapped in a cage. I didn’t know
where I was or what I was doing there. Where was the old lady? Would she come back
for me? Years passed and my questions were left unanswered. Now I’m ten years old.
They call me an old cat, but I don’t feel old. I just feel tired.
I am trapped in a small cage with many other cats. Now, “the world is bars,
100,000 bars, and behind the bars, nothing.”3 I cannot escape these bars, though I have
never actually tried.
Some of the cats have been in here longer than others. Some only stay for a
couple of days before being carried away in the arms of a human. Some play with toys,
others sleep like they haven’t slept in years. I don’t blame them. Dream world is more
exciting than this bore of a place. Some get very excited when the humans come into our
cage. Some are like me; we seek to ignore and be ignored.
I see humans daily, but they are nothing like the old lady. They look at me and see
nothing. I perch on the highest point I can find and look out the window. The outside is
different here than it was back home. The ground is black, not green or brown. Objects of
all different shapes and sizes quickly pass by. I can only find comfort in the night. The
moon quiets down the outside world and brings me with it. “I can hear mysterious and
magic voices, when I can see the darkness is all alive” with sounds I heard in my old
homes, like the wind rustling leaves outside the window, or crickets playing in the grass.4
The night is the time I feel most at home. But during the day, that changes.
Rainier Maria Rilke, “The Panther,” in Animal Humanities Course Anthology, ed.
Jerome Bump (Austin, Texas: 2012), 373
4 Ford Madox Ford, “The Cat of the House,” in Animal Humanities Course Anthology,
ed. Jerome Bump (Austin, Texas: 2012), 405
The daylight brings sounds that are loud and abrupt. When I catch a smell, it reeks
of sewage. The only thing that’s the same as my old home is that bright sun. I look at it
through this window and wonder if maybe that’s where the old lady is, the same as she
always was – my light in the vast and endless blue. My yellow.
The beautiful, yellow sun.
Yellow. That’s the color I think of when I think of happiness – of flowers and
sunshine the sweet scent of sugar. I like to think animals associate a lot of things with
color, just as humans do, because in a lot of ways it’s a survival instinct. They may not
see colors the way we do (they may be color blind), but they must be able to detect
shades. That’s why I chose a story about a cat and an old lady and the way she was
yellow to her. That was my favorite part of writing this – being able to be creative while
extending the sympathetic imagination.
Extending the sympathetic imagination was easier than I thought it would be.
Although it was hard keeping it from being too much from the point of view of a human,
and I know at some points the cat has more advanced thoughts than probably possible, I
Shade Naturals, “Sunshine,”
still like to think that all animals are deeper than we give them credit for. Animals are
beautiful, smart and intelligent. They are a curiosity. From a young age I have found
them fascinating, and have even thought about dedicating my life to their service. This
stems from my born-with empathetic personality. While sympathy is “being affected by
the condition of another with a feeling similar or correspond to that of the other” empathy
is a little bit deeper. 6 Being empathetic is being put into the shoes of another being – you
feel what it feels, you want what it wants; you see the world the way it does. Empathy is
an easier emotion to feel towards humans because we are humans. When it comes to
animals, we often project our own human emotions onto them and call that empathy. We
ask questions like: “What would it be like if I was an animal trapped in a science
laboratory?” or “What if I was a fish in the sea and my son was stolen?” when we should
be asking, “How do those animals feel when these things happen to them?”.
That’s the question I asked myself during this project. How does the cat I spent
the most time with at the shelter, Oreocookies, feel? The answer wasn’t simple since she
sat by the window and paid little to no attention to me. But, just being around taught me a
lot. “With someone from another species, this presence is really a question of how much
you can open yourself to the experience, just that experience, what it is.”7 By being there
and trying to connect with Oreocookies, I was able to gather a lot of feelings and
information just by watching this cat for a period of time. And by opening myself up to
these emotions, I was able to connect and learn something from her. Some of the other
cats that shared her large cage rubbed against me, purred, played with the toys, and
R. Matthew, “Sympathy,” in Animal Humanities Course Anthology, ed. Jerome Bump
(Austin, Texas: 2012), 555
7 Audio of Dr. Syverson, November 15, 2012
enjoyed themselves. But her and a couple other cats just sat there. They weren’t sleeping.
They were just there, in the now, living. As I watched her it seemed that “Silently, a
vision enter[ed], slip[ped] through the focused silence of [her] shoulders, reach[ed] [her]
heart, and die[d].”8 It seemed like she would find hope, and then give up on it. As she
stared out that window, I imagined her missing something.
Oreocookies staring out the window
Since she had little to say to me or the other cats, I decided to make up a story for
her. Oreocookies is a ripe ten years old, so she was probably somewhere for a long time
before ending up in the shelter. Since I like to think of animals being happy, I enjoyed
writing about this part of her life. But then I got to the part where I had to write about her
being in the shelter, and that was very painful. I don’t want to think about an animal not
Rainier Maria Rilke, “The Panther,” in Animal Humanities Course Anthology, ed.
Jerome Bump (Austin, Texas: 2012), 373
9 Photo of Oreocookies taken by Zoie Schaefer
being loved and cared for by a kindhearted human. That part was hard, but it also
widened my circle of compassion.
I have always felt bad for the animals in the shelter, but have had mixed feelings
because at least they are in a shelter where they are (hopefully) safe. Austin Pets Alive
(and the City of Austin) is no-kill so I didn’t necessarily feel bad for these cats – but there
was something about Oreocookies. I don’t know if it made me sad that she was ten years
old and could possibly die in that small cage with all those other cats, or that she still
hasn’t been adopted when so many other cats have. Or maybe it was the way she stared
out the window, dreaming of another world, a past world, a made-up world. Who is to
say that cats don’t have an imagination, memories, or awareness of the past, present, and
future? Maybe they don’t worry the same way we do, but I think in some ways they have
their own battles to face every day. So when I think of Oreocookies, I think of her
dreaming of her old home. Maybe she misses it. Maybe she misses someone. After all
cats are “lovesome creatures who would never leave [their loved ones], had they once
given them their hearts.”10
Amy Hempel, “In the Animal Shelter,” in Animal Humanities Course Anthology, ed.
Jerome Bump (Austin, Texas: 2012), 341
Oreocookies looking pretty
As humans we have been trained to take animals of “less importance” for granted.
We eat them, wear them, and steal from them. We use them, dishonor their trust, and
dishonor their lives. By putting ourselves into the mind of another creature, we broke the
boundary between human and animal, and began to see what it means to treat animals
unfairly, even if we only saw a very small part of it.
I have always been one to dig deeper into the mind of animals. When I came to
college I wanted to be a biologist. Someone said to me, “So you want to sit outside and
count ducks all day?” I swiftly replied, “Yes.” Anyone who has spent time with nature
knows that it heals all things. Just try. “Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you
acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now. Let it teach you Being. Let it teach you
integrity –which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real. Let it teach you how to live
and how to die, and how not to make living and dying a problem.”12 That’s the one thing
I learned most from this project – animals teach us more than humanly possible.
Photo of Oreocookies taken by Zoie Schaefer
Ekhart Tolle, “The Power of Now,” in Animal Humanities Course Anthology, ed.
Jerome Bump (Austin, Texas: 2012), 399
Oreocookies taught me that even a cat in a no-kill shelter is not living. She taught me that
everyone and everything deserves a chance. She showed me the way animals mourn; the
way the long for something past and distant.
Animals teach us that our lives aren’t the only thing that matter. They teach us
acceptance, integrity, and strength. They teach us to be ourselves, even when it hurts. It’s
not about life and death. It’s about living.
Word Count:
With Quotes – 2266
Without Quotes – 2109
URL For Blog:
Oreocookies Bio:
Loyal – Cute – Cuddly
Oreocookies is a black and white tuxedoed female. Though she seems very standoffish, she is very sweet when it come to being a friend, companion, and pet. She likes to
perch herself on the highest places she can find, but will come down to be loved on and
to rub herself against the other cats and occasionally someone’s legs. She’s a bit on the
older side, around 10 years, but still has the spunk of a kitten at night when it’s time to
play. She loves to stare out the window during the day, watching leaves blow around,
critters running, and all of the other things that are happening. Her beautiful tuxedo
patterning is very interesting. Being a domestic shorthair mix, her fur is soft and light,
which makes petting her great for her and for you!
Oreocookies gets along very well with other cats, and fits her name perfectly. She
is black and white and very sweet, just like an Oreo! She would make a great cat in any
family due to her easy-going nature – she gets along well with other animals and people
of all ages!
Oreocookies is also very behaved and calm. She doesn’t run around too much and
isn’t too loud or messy. She can be playful from time to time, but is better for cuddling
than for playing with. She is quite the watch cat!
While watching TV or reading a book, she loves to cuddle up in a warm, cozy lap
and softly purr in her sleep, making her a great friend and a great pet. She is relaxed and
laid back, and ready for any adventure you have to offer her!
All APA! foster kittens/cats are litter box trained, tested for FeLV/FIV,
spayed/neutered, vaccinated, treated for worms/fleas, microchipped and come with a 30day health insurance plan.
If you have additional questions about Oreocookies, please send an e-mail to
Virginia Bio:
Calm – Sweet – Simple
Virginia is a female tuxedoed cat. She is a domestic shorthair mix and her black
and white fur is fluffy and soft, like her personality. She is shy at first, but human
companionship is something that brightens her mood. She perches herself high up to
watch everything that happens below her. She isn’t scared of many things, and is a loving
girl with beautiful, green eyes. She is quiet and comfortable doing her own thing, but also
enjoys having company, including other cats, dogs, or people. She loves being pet
between and behind the ears, and will purr gently when shown affection. She’s not too
old, only around 2 years, and still has quite a bit of spunk to her, but is also calm and well
mannered in her ways. She would make a great pet!
Virginia is very clean and low maintenance. She would make a great cat for any
situation. She is great with other animals, but may be a little bit shy at first around dogs
or other large pets. She does well with children, and is very tolerant and accepting Once
she settles into her new home expect her to be comfortable and cuddly!
Virginia is very calm and sweet. She loves to lay around lazily all day, and only
plays occasionally. She does like to creep around the house and be in the room where all
the interesting things are happening so she can take part in the action. She is quite the
character when she wants to be, remembering that she is still a young cat. She is curious
and outgoing, but also content in any situation. She would make a great pal and loving
All APA! foster kittens/cats are littler box trained, tested for FeLV/FIV,
spayed/neutered, vaccinated, treated for worms/fleas, microchipped and come with a 3day health insurance plan.
If you have additional questions about Virginia, please send an e-mail to