Gato in the City


So, it’s once again time to write my dispatch and I am sitting down staring at my computer trying to figure out what to write about and talking to my mom on the phone about what I should write about. And, then my mom says, “Anna, you’ve had tons of experiences. What about the crazy adventure you went on to get Gato?” And, I look down and he’s sleeping on my bed right next to me and I knew that that was what I was going to write about. So, here we go.

Last month, one of my apartment mates came into my room and said “we really want to talk to you about something, can you come out into the living room.” So I shut my laptop and went to our living room. Both of my apartment mates were sitting down, it looked like an intervention. Then they announced that they wanted to get a therapy kitten for my roommate, and would I like to go to the shelter with them to pick it out? I was totally against the idea; but, they were going to get a kitten whether I liked it or not. So, if I went, at least I could be involved in the picking. So, we took the Red Line to Grand and walked to The Chicago Anti Cruelty Society. We got there late so it was kinda dark and not very lively. We signed in and went into the cat room, we walked in and saw crates just full of kittens and cats, mostly kittens. We saw two that we really liked and took them to the playroom. After playing with the kittens forever and finally deciding on one, the adoption time had ended. So, we needed to come back the next day. But, when my roommate and her boyfriend went back the next day, the kitten was gone; actually all of the kittens were gone. I had warned them that kittens go fast and they needed to get there early. So back to the drawing board. I got on my computer and called many a shelter until I found one with three kittens. Then the following Thursday my roommate and I went there. We got on the Red Line again, and since my roommate was the navigator, I honestly don’t know where we got off.  (I looked later, and I think it should have been North Claybourne).  Anyway, we started walking. After walking for about 15 minutes we realized we were going in the wrong direction, so we turned around (after cursing at google maps), and started to walk the other way. We passed through Germantown, with families outside and kids on swings, while my roommate described the yearly apple festival that happens there. She had gone with her boyfriend. We walked through large shopping areas where people were so busy and hurried, and then through neighborhoods of small apartments, expensive small boutiques, and newly wealthy twenty somethings (maybe Bucktown). Finally we were at the shelter! But, turns out you need to be 20 to even touch a kitten at the place. So after looking for two seconds, we left, disappointed. But not so disappointed we didn’t enjoy the walk back through the neighborhoods back to the Red Line stop.


Back at our apartment, we called The Anti Cruelty Society to see if they had gotten any more kittens, they did. So that day my roommates and I made a pact that we were going to make sure we were coming home with a 2 month old kitten (the age they put them up for adoption) the next day. We were going to get there early, and make a decision. I was the first to get there. The others were running late and I wanted to make sure there were some kittens left. So, I once again hopped on the Red Line road to Grand and started to walk. But, because I am directionally challenged, I immediately got lost. I was turning right then left then right again, I felt like one of those mice you put in a maze to see if they can get out, it was so annoying. So, I finally just took my best guess and turned around and just walk strait. There is a plus to getting annoyed and lost though, it forces you to look. I just kept looking up from my phone to make sure I was on the right street, looking a street addresses to see where I was. So, I got a good look at what turns out to be the River North neighborhood.

There were people everywhere, tourists, natives, families, business men, vendors, etc. Everywhere I looked it was just a wall of people with hands full of shopping bags, briefcases or strollers. Each side of the street was just full of shops, grocery stores, restaurants and people were just packed in the door way like a bunch of sardines. There were men and women set up on the streets trying to sell stuff and ask for money. One guy asked me if I was thinking about remodeling my kitchen and if I would consider bla-bla-bla company for the job. Now, why you would ask an 18 year old college student with a backpack if she was thinking about remodeling her kitchen is beyond my understanding; but, it was so interesting to see this environment versus the quiet street corners of Germantown and the swanky boutiques near the other shelter. The last time I came to The Anti Animal Cruelty Society I hadn’t seen all this because it was very late and the streets had gone dormant.


While taking in the sights, thank gosh, it turned out I went the right way. I had walked straight to the shelter. I walked in and, just like on the sidewalk, there were tons of people inside,  as well as a symphony of barking, meowing, the screaming and laughing of children, and the ringing and picking-up of phone calls –, “hello Anti Animal Cruelty Society this is blank speaking how can I help you?” There were young couples looking for a small pet, big families wanting to get their first pet or replace one, and in my case a silly trio of teenage girls with a roommate that needed a therapy animal. I signed-in my group and just decided to stare for a while. There was this massive platform, and huge and small dogs were walking crossing it in every direction to either get groomed or see their new family. It was like a doggy highway leading to all the essential doggy spots above the lobby area. And there was a staff member directing the doggy highway so nothing collided. There was a garden outside where families were playing with the dogs from the shelter. And, I hadn’t notice on the first trip just how pretty the shelter’s lobby was. It was, full of cut outs of all different kinds of animals, bright yet soft colors, and all these cool arches. I finally snapped out of it, and went into the cat room. Once again (no surprise given everyone’s lateness) there were only a couple kittens left. I rapidly texted my roommate, saying you need to hurry up there’s almost no one left. So, they stepped on it, and before I knew it we were looking at and playing with kittens.


But, there was one kitten that my roommate kept drifting toward his name was Ernie, and I knew he was coming home with her. So I didn’t see the point in sticking around playing with other cats, and I left. I went back to my dorm and started doing my homework. About half an hour later, I hear laughing. I go outside into the living room, and I see nothing. I thought don’t tell me they left without a kitten again. Then I look again, and there is the two month old kitten named Ernie (I’m thinking I knew it). He’s running around like a madman. He was so cute. How can you not instantly fall in love with a kitten (well maybe if you’re allergic you don’t). Only problem, we all hated the name Ernie. So, he needed a new name. Everyone except my roommate and her boyfriend said don’t pick Gato  (which, of course, means cat in Spanish), it so cliché and unimaginative. But, my roommate is Mexican and her boyfriend is Austrian, and they thought that the whole language, play on words thing was great. So, they picked the name anyway. So we have a cat named Gato. Getting him meant doing a lot of  “L” riding, and getting lost.  But, it was worth it. I saw a lot more of Chicago, and it turns out having a cat is kind of nice. Gato has now left my bed, and I hear the bell on his collar in the hall. A sound I kinda like. But, no dogs named Perro. (Anna Paliga/ CoS Student)


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