Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: October 31, 2022 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”

is

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

“This Cat”

has

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

“This Cat”

was

loved once,
or is, perhaps,
loved still,

yet found
Her or Him Self
trapped
in this limbic state.

“This Cat”

is

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

Is,

but rather
a some thing else
entirely, since a

Something

is Not

Unique or Sentient,
and perhaps

Not Worthy.

“This Cat”

waits

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

Named,

for She or He is

Somebody–

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

this day of waiting

for

“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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