A stray kitten named “Cinnamon” was trapped on a fire escape early this morning.
My boyfriend feeds Cinnamon every morning before leaving for work at 6 a.m. He discovered the trapped cat and insisted, before leaving, that I rescue it before the scorching rays of the sun strike our side of the building.
The kitten started meowing loudly when I first attempted to rescue it. Never having been held by a human before, the wild kitty made quite a fuss as I handled it by the nape of the neck. I am fearful of contracting rabies and did not want to be bitten by an animal that shares space with a little opossum that also lives in the back lot. We named the rodent “Templeton”. Templeton acts just like a kitten and has been seen late at night, rooting through the trash with Cinnamon.
I ran down the stairs inside the building like a bat out of hell, nearly losing a flip flop. The poor tabby dangled from my hand like road kill. His typical brown eyes turned black as he hissed at me. I had hoped to release it into the lot where it typically hangs out. I made it all the way down two flights of stairs with Cinnamon and was not at all concerned about the awful noise the cat was making. As I attempted to open the back door leading to the back yard, and while holding him in my bosom, Cinnamon jumped from my hand and ran back up the stairs. He leapt out the second floor hallway window again, onto the fire escape where he was initially ‘trapped’.
A calico mother cat gave birth to four kittens just before we moved in here. We fell in love with the litter before our electricity was turned on. The kittens made the back lot their home. As owners of two cats already, and having dry cat food readily available, my boyfriend started feeding the kittens. Cinnamon has always been our pick of the litter, but his siblings Nutmeg, Samantha and Baby Girl are just as adorable. Cinnamon often sticks his tail high into the air when we open our window screen to toss out the Meow Mix. Today, with no orange tail pointing up at us in the glow of morning, and only the two calicos and rusty little tom scurrying around for food, we knew something was wrong. It was only after calling Cinnamon’s name that we heard him cry from across the way.
I decided to get a bath towel from my apartment before attempting to gab Cinnamon a second time. As I re-entered my side of the tenement building, I bumped into my neighbor Lucy, who lives across the hall. She was waiting for her husband to warm up the car.
“Good morning, baby,” Lucy said. She spread her arms to give me a hug. She kissed me on my cheek, as is her custom. Lucy started calling me ‘baby’ the first week I moved in here. Every time I bump into her she rubs my head, calls me ‘baby’ and reminds me of how much she loves the sensation of rubbing her hands in my closely shaven hair. The Puerto Rican momma is hot blooded and a little touched in the head, but who isn’t in Jersey? She taunts her old husband, Juan, and has often said jokingly, in front of Juan, that she is going to marry me when he dies.
“Oh, baby, what you doin’ with dat towel?” Lucy asked as I attempted to slip by her, unscathed.
“Oh, mommie,” I said, using the term of endearment common in the Spanish language, “one of the cats I feed is stuck on the fire escape on the building next to us. I think it was trying to find a way to get up here to my window. Someone must have left the door to the hallway open last night, and it went inside and found its way to the second floor. I must get it down.”
Lucy ran outside to the back yard so she could watch me. As I stuck my head out the hallway window and called to Cinnamon again, I realized there was no way he was going to come close to me again. I stepped onto the fire escape with my purple bath towel and suddenly, Lucy screamed–
“Oh my God! It’s going to jump. Oh no!” All of Jersey must have heard the fire engine cry streaming from between Lucy’s heavily painted lips. The darkened windows of the tenement building suddenly were filled with light.
Cinnamon jumped and spread his little legs and arms, making the terrifying leap. He landed inches from where Lucy was standing.
I quickly ran into my own side of the building, hoping no one knew who was causing the commotion. As I re-entered our building, Lucy was standing by the mailboxes, laughing and slapping her leg.
“Good job, Papi,” she said. “I thought you was gonna kill it!”