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.