An unexpected visitor

Yesterday was the first day of school. I taught in the morning, Mrs Acilius had her classes in the afternoon.  We went in together on the 7:14 AM bus.  We have a little bath mat that Mrs Acilius’ assistance dog P—— uses to keep from sliding in the aisle of the bus.  When we take the bus to school, I keep the mat in my office so that Mrs Acilius doesn’t have to carry it with her everywhere she goes. 

At about 1 pm, I was doing paperwork at my desk.  A student appeared in the doorway of my office.  “Excuse me, sir, this cat was running around in the hallway.”  She was holding a little kitten.  “He’s bleeding rather badly.  I have to go to class.  Can you do something for him?”  I stood up and reached for the kitten.  She looked relieved and held him out to me.  Of course he scratched my hand.  I handed the kitten back to the student, then picked up P——‘s mat.  I held the mat out, the student set the kitten down in it.  As I wrapped him up, she rushed off to her class. 

So there I stood with an injured kitten.  What next?  I decided to take him to the nearest office and appeal for help.  My office is about equidistant from the Dean’s office and the Psychological Science department office.  I decided to take him to the Psychological Science office. 

That turned out to be a very good decision.  Their office assistant took the mat and set it on her desk.  Also in the room were the department’s administrative coordinator, a couple of undergrads, and the department chair.  They all gathered around the kitten in a circle.  The office assistant got a little jar, filled it with water,  and offered it to the kitten.  The chair got a little cardboard box and put the jar and the kitten in it.  The administrative coordinator had some dog food in her office for some reason; she put a couple of pieces of that in the box.  The chair then went to his office and retrieved some tuna left over from his lunch. 

The kitten was very badly hurt.  He sniffed the water and the tuna, but didn’t take any of either.  The student hadn’t been exaggerating when she said he was bleeding rather badly.  The end of his tail was missing and blood was streaming out of it; there were deep scratches on the front of his chest.  Someone I told about it this morning thought the kitten might have tangled with the hawk who circles the Quad; I’m sure that’s exactly what happened. 

Seeing how much attention he was getting in the Psych office, I decided it was time to get back to work.  So I excused myself and returned to my office.  A half hour later, a psychology professor whose first initial is H came to my office.  H—— told me that she had made a 4 PM vet appointment for the kitten.  She swore up and down that she wouldn’t be able to keep him.  “We already have two cats, and our place is so small- we can not have another cat.”  Oh, she said, she would keep him for a while after he was released from the vet, but he’d have to live in the bathroom to keep him away from her two rambunctious older cats. 

A few hours later, I was meeting with a student when Mrs Acilius came by my office.  As Mrs Acilius waited for the end of my meeting, H—— saw her.  H——- went up to Mrs Acilius and told her the whole story.  She’d already taken the kitten to the vet.  The vet had said the kitten was in shock from loss of blood and would need surgery to repair some mangled bones.  H—— had agreed to pay for the surgery and was going to take the kitten in afterward, but she repeated that she could not have another cat.  Apparently she went on and on about the sheer impossibility of taking another cat into her home. 

When Mrs Acilius and I were leaving for the day at 4:30 or so, she reported what H—— had told her.  I remarked that in my experience, swearing that you will not take in another cat is one of the stages in the process of adopting a cat.  She said she suspected that it would prove to be the case here.


  1. cymast

     /  October 15, 2009

    No conclusion?

  2. acilius

     /  October 16, 2009

    After H—— paid for the cat’s surgery and kept him at home for a week or so, she gave him to the Psychological Science department secretary, M——-. I suspect H—— would have broken down and kept the cat herself, but the two cats she already has were so hostile to him that it was impossible. M——- has shown me several pictures and videos of the cat at home; he looks very happy and healthy. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to upload any of those pictures.

    Since the cat’s new life started when he was taken to a psychologists’ office, Mrs Acilius and I thought he should be named him for a great psychologist. Mrs Acilius favored Watson, both for John Broadus Watson and also because it suggests Sherlock Holmes sidekick Dr Watson, a model whom a pet might emulate. I leaned toward Skinner, both for Burrhus Frederic Skinner and also because it suggests skinning, a hobby a cat might take up. When the cat was still with H——, we suggested these names to her. She said that the psychology faculty had also thought he should be named for a psychologist. Their chair had suggested Skinner, which she disliked, because, she said, “I don’t think behaviorism explains much.” So Watson was out, too. She and others favored Tedeschi, for Richard G. Tedeschi, who is known for a theory about how people who have suffered traumatic misfortunes can be transformed and grow stronger afterward. Since we knew that the cat had suffered a grave misfortune and hoped that he would have a bright future, that seemed appropriate.

    M——- rejected all of those names. She named the cat Saint Ray, spelled StRay. Also appropriate.

    The other day, M——- was showing me some pictures of the cat. She said she used to have a cat whose appearance and behavior were remarkably similar to StRay’s. A few years ago that cat had died, after 17 years with M——-. As she told me how much StRay reminded her of her late cat, she misted up and said that she almost thought that her late cat had sent StRay to her.

  3. cymast

     /  October 16, 2009


    Thanks for the conclusion.

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