But I didn’t get him. He came to me, dirty and battle-scarred, and meowed outside my door until I came out.
I didn’t take him inside. Instead I put him in the car, drove him to the vet and had him patched up. I wanted him healthy and presentable when I took him to the animal shelter, so he’d have a chance of being adopted.
I was surprised when the vet asked me if I wanted him declawed, because I hadn’t known until then that he had claws. He’d fought me when I carried him into the vet’s office, struggling to get away, but never unsheathed his claws.
After the vet was finished, I carried him out to the car again, still intending to take him to the animal shelter. He was limp and groggy from the anesthetic, but as soon as I opened the car door he leaped out of my arms and ran away.
I assumed I’d seen the last of him, and drove home. But when I pulled up to my door, there he was, on the front step. So I took him in.
This is his home now, but only in the sense that the farm was Silas’ home in Frost’s poem: Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
Bunin doesn’t love me, and I don’t love him, which is a new experience for me, if not for him. Animals have always loved me, ever since I was a child. Dogs leaped their fences and followed me as I walked to school. Birds and even butterflies landed on my head and shoulders. But no longer.
Bunin purrs when I brush him; but he doesn’t sleep with me, jump into my lap when I sit down, or follow me from room to room. Even other people’s cats and dogs used to do that when I visited their houses.
Sometimes I still think I should take him to the shelter, and give him the opportunity to be adopted by someone who would love him, and who he would love in return. But what I see of other people persuades me that he’s better off with me.