Stray: A Short Story

Updated on February 6, 2018
JenniferWilber profile image

Jennifer Wilber works as an ESL instructor, substitute teacher, and freelance writer. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English.

A lonely black kitten.
A lonely black kitten.

I was brought here at the end of autumn, as the final leaves fell to the ground, the winds got colder, and the nights became the longest that I have ever known. I didn’t know it then, but my life was about to change, forever.

I’ve had many homes throughout my short life before I was brought here. None of them lasted for long. I was always cast out for one reason or another, though I was never quite sure why. I did my best to make them want me. I really did. But it seems that my best just wasn’t good enough for them. At least not for most of them. Not until I met her.

I still remember the place where I was born, though the memories are beginning to fade. I don’t even remember my mother’s face. It was a big place. Out in the countryside, I believe. There were so many of us youngsters. Each of us desperately awaiting new families to come and take us to our eventual homes. Many visitors came over the first couple of weeks. A few of us were chosen to go on to new homes. I was not. Some of the visitors looked at me for several moments before choosing one of the others. Most simply overlooked me. I guess there was something about me that made them uneasy.

Eventually there were only three of us left. Spring quickly gave way to summer and our guardians could no longer look after us. Perhaps they just didn’t want to. We were taken outside somewhere, transported by a windowless van – I don’t even know how far away – and left stranded to fend for ourselves. At first my sisters and I stayed together in the wilderness. We were all the others had. But, as time went on, nature took its course and we went our separate ways. Sometimes I still wonder what happened to them out there.

A lonely black kitten searches for food at dusk.
A lonely black kitten searches for food at dusk.

I lived alone in woods for quite some time. I was on my own, and had to defend myself from the lurking dangers of the woods. I was forced to hunt for my own food. I wasn’t very good at it, and went to bed hungry most days. Mostly I was simply very lonely.

That was until I met a girl at the edge of the woods. She seemed to care for me, though she had no reason to. She brought me food when I had none. Every day she would come and visit me. At first, I was a bit apprehensive, given my past. I would hide whenever she came near, only daring to take the food she left when she was safely out of sight. In time, I did warm up to her, however.

The girl brought me to her home one warm night at the end of summer, as the leaves began to change, and the autumn swiftly announced its approach. Her family didn’t know I was there at first. She was afraid for them to meet me, afraid of what they would think. I tried to keep myself concealed. I knew I could trust her, but I wasn’t sure about the others.

Eventually I was found out, of course. These things cannot be kept secret for long. The girl’s mother was the superstitious sort. There was talk of witchcraft. Strange happenings were blamed on me, none of which I even knew anything about. I had been in hiding for days. The girl’s tears could not protect me. I was sent away, banished for the second time in my short life. I wasn’t wanted here either.

The girl’s father took me from my hiding place in the girl’s room, threw me into his pickup truck, and drove away. Just like before, except this time, it was only me. Sometime later, the truck stopped. He pushed me out onto the side of an unfamiliar dirt road and drove away. I knew before the cold, unforgiving glow of the truck’s tail lights had even fully disappeared that he was never coming back. I felt more alone now than ever.

A black cat, ready to pounce.
A black cat, ready to pounce.

Weeks went by. I tried my best to improve my hunting skills, but I still went hungry most of the time. I was getting weaker by the day and my skin was being eaten alive by insects. I didn’t have the energy to fight them. I was sure that I was going to be dead any day now. It wouldn’t have mattered. I had no one to miss me anyway.

Hungry and weak, I collapsed next to the road, only a couple miles from where I had most recently been abandoned. I laid there for hours, sure that some predator would find me and put me out of my misery.

And then a car stopped in front of me. The sounds of the engine ceased and I heard the door open. A woman appeared walking toward me. With what strength I had left, I got to my feet. I meant to run back into the woods, but I was too weak. I sat down and looked at the woman.

“You poor dear,” she said. Was she talking to me? “Let me help you.” She took me into her car and we drove away. What was going on? I knew better than to trust anyone now. I knew I was better off on my own.

And I was right. I was taken to a place. It was different. It was so bright inside under the artificial lights. There were several others like me. We were each kept in small cages. Before being placed in my own cage, I was taken to a small room. They tried to torture me there. I was first doused with water. They then injected a needle into my skin. I had no idea what was going on. Were they experimenting on me? What did I do to deserve this? Surely I was about to die at their hands.

After the procedures, I was placed in the small cage that would become my home for the next two weeks. The woman who had brought me here opened up my cage and placed two bowls inside. Cautiously, I inspected them. Fresh water and food. I let my guard down long enough to eat and drink. It may have been because I hadn’t eaten in so long, but this was the best tasting food that I had ever had. Without warning, the woman reached her hand inside the cage and rubbed my head. It was about this time that I noticed something strange. I felt better than I had ever felt in my entire life.

Over the next two weeks I was taken out of the cage and more procedures were done to me, but I became less afraid each time. I still don’t know what was going on, but I began to feel as though I could trust these people, despite the unpleasantness I had endured throughout the procedures. Perhaps that was what they wanted. As the days went on, the procedures were further and further apart, but my captors still visited me from time to time. They fed me and kept me company. They were kind enough, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would be sent away from this place soon, as I had been so many times before.

A black kitten at the vet.
A black kitten at the vet.

And then she walked in. This was the first time I saw her. One of the people who had been bringing me food for the past weeks led her to my cage. She opened it and picked me up. I was scared at first, don’t get me wrong, but she seemed somehow different from the rest.

“There, there,” she said as she gently stroked my black fur. “It’s alright. You’re going home now.” I felt myself purring in her arms. I hadn’t done that since I was just a small kitten, snuggled up with my birth mother and littermates. Something about her made me feel safe, though I still wasn’t sure I could trust her just yet.

She took me to my new home with her. I still fear that I will be sent away again, however. Sometimes when she leaves, I fear that she won’t come back, and that I will be forgotten. So far, my fears have been unfounded. She leaves sometimes, leaving me all alone, but she always returns. Sometimes she even brings me new treats or things for me to play with. My favorite thing in the world is to simply sit in her lap, where I feel safe and loved for the first time in my short life.

I have been here with her for several months now. The cold weather outside is beginning to warm, though I was barely aware of the winter cold. The warmth of my new home has shielded me from it. She has told me countless times that I will be here with her forever, that she is so happy she found me. I am happy too. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have truly found a place to call home.

A black cat, cozy in its new loving home.
A black cat, cozy in its new loving home.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Jennifer Wilber


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      • profile image

        John Mario Gentile 

        11 months ago

        An excellent poignant story! I enjoyed it very much.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        11 months ago from Houston, Texas

        What a sweet ending to this story. If only people would be responsible and spay and neuter their pets, there would not be so many that are abandoned. Your story was written in a heartfelt frame of mind.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James MizBejabbers 

        11 months ago from Beautiful South

        How beautiful and touching. I feel that it might have been the story of my little black rescue cat, Tas Too, or his black predecessor Tas (the First). I love all cats, especially black cats, and three years ago, this little black kitten went to sleep in my arms at PetsMart's adoption center. I took him home, his forever home. He rewards us by keeping our house free of mice and giving us love in return. I'm so glad the kitten in your story found his forever home, too, and I'm sure he is just as much loved as my Tas Too.

      • DzyMsLizzy profile image

        Liz Elias 

        11 months ago from Oakley, CA

        Pawsome story! Well done! (I love black cats--I have one of my own.) Congrats on your win!

      • fpherj48 profile image


        11 months ago from UpstateWestern,New York

        Jennifer, Mom of 3 rescued felines here.....they light up my life. Love your sweet, touching story. Well worth highlighting. Keep sharing wonderful stories with us please. Peace, Paula

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        12 months ago from Central Florida

        This is such a touching and sad story. I'm a cat lover. My heart breaks for those who are abandoned and/or mistreated. I'm glad this little kitty finally found a forever home.

        You did a wonderful job of telling the story from the cat's perspective, Jennifer. It made me want to cry. But I smiled in the end. Can you hear me purr?

      • Lora Hollings profile image

        Lora Hollings 

        12 months ago

        A wonderful story, Jennifer. I really enjoyed it! I'm so glad that you wrote this story about what a tough and sad life strays have and how cruel it is to abandon any animal and leave it to fend for itself! Domesticated pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits or any others just can't survive on their own. Another message in your story that I found to be a good one, is that both black cats and dogs are adopted less than other dogs and cats. They can have great dispositions but often times they are overlooked just because of their color. I had two black cats for many years and they were among my best natured and loving pets. You really made the reader feel for this little stray kitten. I'm glad that the story had a happy ending too! Thanks so much for writing this story.

      • Ameraka profile image


        19 months ago from Wisconsin

        This made me cry! I am glad there is a happy ending. I love cats so much.

      • Larry Fish profile image

        Larry W Fish 

        22 months ago from Raleigh

        Jennifer that is one of the most emotional stories I have ever read. it brought tears to my eyes. I felt so sorry for that little kitten and then I got so happy that it finally got a loving home. That is a great work of writing, Jennifer.

      • JenniferWilber profile imageAUTHOR

        Jennifer Wilber 

        2 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

        Thank you!

      • profile image

        Jamie Butler 

        2 years ago

        I absolutely love the true struggle that many cats face the hardships and having the trust built back up and I love the ending.

      • JenniferWilber profile imageAUTHOR

        Jennifer Wilber 

        2 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

        Thank you! I have two cats myself. One black long-haired girl and one black short-haired boy. They are both rescues too.

      • KatWin profile image

        Kathy Burton 

        2 years ago from Florida

        Loved the story done from the cat point of view. You did a great job with painting pictures. Of course, glad for the happy ending.

        Just so you know I currently have 4 cats in our house. All rescued. Yes, I’m a cat lover



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