By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Each day, when I get home from work, I walk up the path to my front door. I jiggle the key in the lock, push open the door and am greeted by a friendly face. Sitting a few paces from the reach of the arc of the swinging door is my cat, Enzo.
Inevitably, I come inside, take a moment to shut the door, then turn around to see Enzo walk a step or two before plopping over onto the floor, belly exposed. Sometimes he meows, sometimes he doesn’t. But always, there’s a stretch.
Front paws reach above and behind his head, back paws spread in the opposite direction, briefly making him look like the feline version of Stretch Armstrong. Then he allows his limbs to spring back into a languid comfort. The shockingly white fur of his belly remains exposed as he turns an expectant glance my way.
It’s an obvious invitation. “Scratch my tummy,” that glance says.
Now, with most cats, such an obvious invitation would be an equally obvious trap. Let your fingers dip down into the downy softness of kitty belly fur for more than a second and you’re sure to come away with claw marks reddening your knuckles not long after. But not so with Enzo. He enjoys a good belly rub.
And so, I’ll set my things down, tell him hello, and reach down to give him a pat, letting my fingers get lost in his fur as I run them up and down his stomach. A few seconds later, he’ll flip right-side up again and start to nuzzle my legs in that familiar way cats have of greeting those they love.
Such has been our routine for three years now. Whether I’m gone for an hour or an entire day, the moment I return, Enzo wants a belly rub.
It’s not a bad routine, come to think of it. Each time I return home, I know I’ll receive a warm and fuzzy welcome. And it’s just one of many routines he and I have established in the three years since he chose me as his human.
See, he chose me, not the other way around. I wanted a cat for ages, but didn’t know which one I wanted until this sprightly little ball of fluff bounded in my direction and began to nuzzle against my legs the very first time we met.
In a way that would soon become very familiar, he quietly and gently — yet nonetheless firmly — insisted on getting his way. He wouldn’t stop winding in and around my ankles until I picked him up and held him against my chest, where he promptly started batting at a lock of my hair. A week later, I brought him home and we’ve been best buds ever since.
He had been dropped off at an animal shelter when he was just a kitten, surrendered as part of an unwanted litter, hoping for a rescue. I adopted him, but it was he who rescued me. Not a day has gone by that his furry little self hasn’t brought a smile to my face, and for that I am very thankful.
But, Enzo wasn’t the only animal looking for a forever home. So many loving cats and dogs are still looking for their humans. This Saturday, the Isabel Y. Garcia Animal Shelter in Port Isabel is hoping the twain will meet. The shelter will be hosting a pet adoption drive as part of a nationwide effort to clear the shelters. If you’re looking for a new furry friend, stop on by. I promise you won’t regret it.
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