Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys

cat in shelter cage

I came across the poem “This Cat” by Karen D. Mitchell on my online travels, and it touched me deeply. Karen is the publisher of the blog Neko Scribe, where she and her tortoiseshell cat Calpyso the Watch Cat share news and views related to animal welfare in their hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, as well as across the nation and the world.

I’m republishing the poem with Karen’s permission.

“This Cat”


steel woven in wool,
black wands flickering
in two full moons.

“This Cat”


claws that tap bars
and paws that stretch
far, like a child’s hand
waiting for treats.

“This Cat”


loved once,
or is, perhaps,
loved still,

yet found
Her or Him Self
in this limbic state.

“This Cat”


a pawn in a game
of euphemisms– words twisted and gnarled like a dying tree’s roots.

“This Cat”

is only

a number on a screen,
a portion of a statistic,
a fraction of the status quo,
a faceless blip

never to be
cherished for Who
She or He


but rather
a some thing else
entirely, since a


is Not

Unique or Sentient,
and perhaps

Not Worthy.

“This Cat”


to be chosen,
to be known,
to be freed,
to be


for She or He is


a Being who has never been before
and shall never be again,
except for this day,

this day of waiting


“This Cat”

Karen took the  photo above during her first visit to Indianapolis Animal Care and Control (IACC) in 2011. Her poem, inspired by the “This Cat” and “This Dog” notations on IACC kennel cards, came to her in October 2012. When she volunteered at IACC, she would sometimes scratch out “This Cat” and write a name of her choice, because she believes that every individual deserves a name.

Photograph and poem © Karen D. Mitchell, 2012.

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12 Comments on This Cat

  1. What a wonderful testament to the personality behind the bars. They all have so much to give and a depth of character that many simply walk past. I have named all of those who’ve shared my life, even for a moment.

  2. When I visit the shelters..I so much wish that I could take everyone home but the most I can do is give many hugs and kisses as I have so many at home now..It makes me very sad to leave them there..Cats are not meant to live in cages..they need to run and play and pretend they are ferocious hunters in the jungle…and to love and be loved..I pray for them…I weep for them..

  3. I’m glad this touched all of you as well. People like Karen, and Harry, and Laura, and everyone who rescues and works tirelessly to find homes for stray and abandoned cats are the true heroes of this world.

  4. Thank you for sharing! As a feline enrichment volunteer at my local SPCA every cat is given attention, named and loved. They need to know they matter and are loved and cared for. I will be sharing with our AdvoCAT group!!

  5. Thank you Ingrid and Karen for sharing. When we have pulled a cat from the shelter who turns out to be too sick to make it, or we have a litter of kittens that don’t survive, we name them all because yes, everyone deserves a name.

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