When we first saw Moby on the shelter website, he was in the now familiar, flop-of-welcome, "I'm cute and furry" posture. Named Midnight, as the black cat of my early childhood was. We wanted a black cat, partly for simple esthetics, partly because we'd heard that black cats were generally smarter, and definitely because black animals have a harder time getting adopted. The coincidental name just added to it, if in part because it was such a stereotypical name for a black cat, and we knew he'd need a new one. We also wanted an adult cat, and a neutered male, just general ease, for the odds of getting a more mellow animal.
So, we got on the T, walked a few more blocks, and found the shelter. Smelled the many rabbits, heard the dogs barking, and saw a quiet, all black cat, hunched in the bottom cage as we walked in. Midnight, the same one, we were a bit afraid he'd be gone when we got there. We looked at all the other cats, a few kittens, and came back. The staff brought us to a meeting enclosure, and brought Midnight. I held him, as he wriggled, then escaped to the floor. Using no claws or teeth, just an insistent writhe.
"Look, can you get me outta here? I'm not going to suck up to you, but I really want out."
We were both charmed. We liked that we were going to have to earn this one. And that even in his urgency, he had no interest in hurting us.
We filled in their forms, they counseled us on what to expect, expenses, damage, time commitment. Thoughtful, but sure we could be a good home for him, left, with an appointment to retrieve him in a few days, after they'd approved us, and called our landlord. They put a chip in, continued his worming meds, and we waited for the call.
D had to go back by himself, because I was working every day, long days. He says Midnight crawled over his back in a bid for freedom, as he spent some time in the meeting cage as well, with him. Carrying the box, with an unhappily mewling cat, on the T, all the way back, strained his arms and his heart. For the next week, we only were sure we had a cat because of the jingling of his tags, disappearing food and used litter box. We'd find him under the couch, under the cabinet in the sink (6" of clearance), under the bed, and gently put a hand to him. He'd purr VERY LOUDLY, and no doubt anxiously, and we would leave him be. We had time, no rush.
Gradually, he came out, deciding we probably weren't going to hurt him, and that this beat being around all those barking, mewing things. During this week, based on fleeting meetings, we pondered what to call him. A real name, not a trite descriptor, a response to his personality. Much as I liked Socrates, it didn't quite fit him. By a roundabout series of free associations, the name Moby emerged, and we both thought it quite perfect. In part because of his preference for under, but that's just rationalization. He does know when we call out Moby, that we mean him, and his tail goes up in recognition.
We have had a few rough spots. He likes him a clean litter box, or he will find another place to go, preferably the tub, given the chance. Took us a while to figure that out. I learned not to shout around him. We are both quieter, calmer people because we feel this responsibility not to scare Moby. We make sure he has an Under to hide under. We've grown used to each other.
Five years ago, on 11 August, Moby came home with us. He seems to like us.