For all intents and purposes, the pound wasn’t too bad. The two cats had been placed in neighboring kennels around the middle of the room, prime real estate. They were fed daily, they had a blanket to curl up on, and they could see when people entered the room. When that happened, they, like all the other cats, would meow and charm and try to gain attention.
Unfortunately, most of the potential adopters would walk past them towards the younger kittens. They weren’t that old! A spry ten month old and an eleven months and a couple some-odd days (give or take, they never quite got their ages right). Each cat had been with a different owner but had arrived around the same time, three days apart. The male’s owners dropped him off, complaining he meowed too much and too loud and they couldn’t stand it.
The female’s owners claimed that they didn’t realize how much effort it took to keeping a cat and she ate too much food and was growing too big.
The two cats only saw each other briefly when they were taken out of their cages for check ups or kennel cleaning but for the most part, they, like every other cat, just wanted a home.
The doors opened and the room grew louder, meows and purrs and yowls echoing and bouncing off the walls as two men stepped inside. The two cats came at attention, eyes wide and intense as they watched the two stroll along the kennels, peering inside each one. They never really stopped, just looked, arm in arm.
The male moved his body, raising his paws to press against the door of his kennel when they got closer and did what he did best: he meowed. Loudly.
The men stopped, the taller of them turning to look at him. He stepped closer and leaned down, raising the pink-tinted sunglasses off his face as he looked towards the cat. “Was that you?” he asked.
The cat meowed again, just as loudly. Unlike his last owners, this man’s eyes widened as he grinned. “Well, well! You’ve got some lungs on you, bubby.” he pointedly ignored the signs plastered everywhere that said not to pet the animals and slid a few slender fingers through the bars. Long painted nails gently scratched under the male cat’s chin and he meowed, purring happily. “Yes you do.”
The cat meowed again. “Oh, I know.” Another meow. “You’ve got a lovely voice.” Meow. Meow. Purrrrrrrrrr.
The elf laughed cheerfully as he continued to pet him. The other man he was with smiled as well before starting to step over. The female cat would not stand for this. She pressed her large body against her door, a more dainty, purr-y meow pulling from her chest. The shorter man turned his attention to her and walked towards her, instead, leaning down. “Well, hello.” he said, smiling as she rubbed herself against the bars, demanding he pet her. He moved his hand, brushing his fingers against her back and she turned, headbutting into them until he gave her scritches as well. He didn’t have long, Perfect Scritches Nails like the elf did, but what he lacked in tools he made up for with technique. He scratched her head, behind both ears, her cheek, under her chin and against her chest.
She purred loud and proud, trying to will herself into a liquid form to squeeze out of her cage and get more pets.
The two men stood there for a few minutes, loving on the two cats before they pulled their hands away. They looked towards each other, the elf adjusting his sunglasses to rest on the brim of his overly-large hat.
“Do you want to look at the other cats?” the shorter one asked. “They have kittens towards the back.” the taller man scoffed.
“Babe, we want a pet, but I’m not training a cat to shit in a box.” he brushed some hair from his face and tossed the long braid of hair over his shoulder. He looked back towards the two cats, both stared up to them with wide, hopeful eyes.
“I like this one.” he said, pointing to the male cat. He meowed loudly.
“I’m rather fond of her.” the shorter man said, motioning to his neighbor. She purred and pressed her body against the door once more.
“It seems we’re at an impasse, homie.” the elf huffed, placing a hand on his hip.
“So it seems.” his companion nodded. They looked towards the two cats before the elf sighed, dramatically and lowered his shades back down onto his nose.
“I guess that just means one thing.” he said, before turning and heading back towards the door. The shorter man followed, smiling softly. The two cats watched, hope crumbling as they saw the two leave the room.
A few minutes later, a worker stepped in, clipboard in hand. She hummed as she looked along the rows until she stopped in front of the two cats. She looked to them and smiled, reaching out a hand to change the cards on each kennel, marking them as adopted. “You two are going to have a lovely home.” she said, leaning down to stare at them.
The rest of the day went by so slowly. When the place opened again the next morning, the two cats were more excited than anything, pacing their kennels and looking towards the doors every time they opened, hoping that the next people who came in would be their new owners.
They were quite disgruntled when a pair of workers showed up and gently brought the two out, instead.
A very uncomfortable trip to the vet’s office at the back, and the two were brought out. Both men from before were in the waiting room, the elf idly looking at his nails. A few papers were signed, the cats were gently tucked inside two carriers the men had bought and they were carried out of the pound.
The trip from the pound was a bit of a blur, the two cats roaming and scratching at the sides of their carriers. When their new cages were opened, the cats tumbled out of their carriers and froze. This place was new. It didn’t smell like other animals. It smelled like sun-warmed carpets, slow cooked food. It smelled like a soft blanket and the two men who were crouched down beside them, giving them space. “Make yourselves comfortable, Persephone. Hades.” the shorter one said, gently.
The two cats took a tentative step forward, slowly walking around the room. They sniffed the air again. Hades meowed and Persephone’s tail twitched.
This place smelled like home.