Except, the cat that came around wasn’t hungry. She was an adorable white cat, not yet old but no longer a kitten. She came right up to Nikola, curious, but it took her awhile to make her way around his legs to the piece of hot dog I had torn off for her. Eventually she found the piece of meat, tongued it a bit, and then reached her paw up to swat it out of my fingers. It was very playful and I laughed with approval. I continued to break off chunks of meat to feed her, and she continued to swat them suspiciously from my hands. Eventually her interest in actually eating the food waned, but she was obviously enjoying playing. I tore off a bigger chunk of meat and dropped it down for her. Instead of eating it she merely batted it, playing with it like she would a live mouse. Since the hot dog wasn’t alive I assumed she would tire of the game and move on, leaving a dirty piece of food for another stray to find. But she didn’t. She decided that my skirt made a lovely place to play and amused herself by batting the meat out from under my skirt and then chasing it back in. I was a little concerned for the fabric, but the cuteness of the cat prevented me from doing anything to stop her.
At this point what amazed me was not the extent of the playfulness of the cat, but how many people stopped to watch her. At first it was just me and Nikola. After awhile another couple stopped at the bus stop and the girl laughed at the cat. Laughed, out loud. Laughed so I could hear that joyful tinkling fall from her throat. It was quite pleasant and we shared a smile. After awhile the cat grew bored of my skirt and took the meat away to play on her own. She went to the steps of the underpass and batted the meat up and down each step, pouncing on it, circling around it, and then batting it away again. I went to the steps to continue watching, and the girl from the bus stop moved with me. Two young men paused on their way up the stairs and then one turned to the other, mimicking the batting of the cat. An old woman stopped at the bottom of the steps and watched the cat for five minutes. When another woman passed she stopped her, pointed out the cat, and they both laughed. By then Nikola and I decided to continue on our way. I marveled. I don’t remember the states very well, but I can’t imagine people stopping on the sidewalks to watch a cat play with a hot dog. Watching them stop here somehow made the sun a bit brighter and my spirits, despite the heavy lunch, lifted.