I saw her as soon as I stepped out of the taxi. She was old and her face was very lined. She wore a scarf over her head and held out a small cup to encourage the passersby to put in a few coins. David and I had to use the washroom, so we obediently followed the "Toilette" signs down a flight of concrete stairs. As good fortune would have it, I was finished before him and went back up the stairs to wait.
That's when I saw her panhandling companion. She was a brown tabby and sat happily on the old lady's lap. Until David came back from the washroom, I didn't have any money to offer so stayed back and observed.
"God, I hope the cat is spayed." - my first thought. Now I realize how silly that seems. The old lady picked up the cat in her arms and kissed her affectionately and laid her back on her lap. The cat was wearing a leather harness and had a very nice cat crate nearby where she was obviously transported to that location. There was food and water in bowls nearby.
"I wonder what kind of food she's feeding her" - my second thought, as I tried to identify the kibble. Why do I think of this stuff?? Her "Mom" is out panhandling and I'm worried about the quality of food!
David arrived to the top of the stairs and saw the look on my face first. the cat second. He silently reached into his pocket and held out a wad of cash. I took it all "Lucy Ricardo style", and folded it into the cup.
Now I could spend time with this poor cat.
The first thing I noticed was how beautiful her coat was. She was soft and shiny - like my own cats. She rubbed her face into my hand and the old lady glowed with pride. I wanted to ask her so many questions..."Was she spayed?" "Do you have a home?" Since David speaks French he asked her what the cat's name was. It was complicated and sounded like 8 syllables.
David told her something in French and her face brightened. She smiled a toothless smile and took my left hand and kissed it several times, saying something in French. David had told her what I do here in Canada. "Beth rescues cats." I felt so proud.
David pulled me away, as I was probably not helping her "business." My eyes brimmed with tears as I looked back at the pair. The old lady's cup was already in the air and the cat was resting comfortably on her lap.
I wish I had taken a picture of them.
I wish I had gone back and brought her cat toys.
I'm still thinking of the sweet duo and wonder how they are this afternoon as I write. Maybe the money I gave them meant that they could take a day off. When I go back to Paris, I'm going to look for them.
This time, I'm going to bring cat toys.
Lots of cat toys.