The Disappearing Mr. Mistoffelees

Black and tuxedo cats
are the least likely to be adopted from the shelter
and the most likely to be strays.

I found one at a Jewish graveyard
who stayed all day under a bush
once I had fed him and passersby began doing the same
he was too afraid to leave a place with regular meals
and greeted me with head-butts.

Weeks later, he was gone.

I found one brushing against my legs
as I ate by the dockside
meowing plaintively at me
until I combed through its back and found
sharp bones underneath my fingers.

The restaurant nearby didn’t own it
so I left it a can of cat food
I bought a few blocks away.

It meowed as I left
but could not leave
its meal behind.

It was gone the next dusk.

I called no one because the no-kill shelters are full.
Because my building can’t let me home a pet.
Because in reality, I am allergic to cats.
Because all the people I asked once before said no.

Because no one wants a black or tuxedo cat.

Humans are prejudiced with their animals, too,
and prefer the aesthetic appeal of stripes
or the cuteness of kittens.


Author: redgladiola

Creative writer happily predisposed to flights of fancy. You can find my poetry and short prose at

20 thoughts on “The Disappearing Mr. Mistoffelees”

  1. The problem is not the cats. Once again the problem is people. People who buy cats from breeders, or take a kitten from a neighbor (etc.) and then abandon the animal to the streets when it gets older. People who let their cats run loose to breed with abandoned cats and increase the population beyond what those who like cats can afford to take in. We have a catch, neuter, and release policy – and still the population of street cats grows.

  2. Odd coincidence.. One of the local shelters held an “adopt-a-thon” this past week-end.
    I got there late on Sunday, and there was but one kitten left. A black/white ‘tuxedo’.
    “Celia” and I are getting along just fine.. Thank you..!!

  3. So sad. So true. Our beautiful black lab was three days away from death when he came to live with us from the shelter. He is exquisitely loving and sweet. It’s black dogs, too. They disappear in the shadows of the kennels.

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