Our aunt Veronica fed strays,
cats, dogs, she loved them all.
But did not claim them for neutering.
This is how it was done in Bucsa, Hungary
where she spent her formative years.
When the cats bred, she took the large
metal basin, filled it with water and
drowned the hours old souls.
Not from cruelty, just from unconscious habit.

My brother Rudy recently found four stray
kittens on his acre in Nevada.
Abandoned by their mother.
One I took home. 
Kahtohm, the orange tabby, is now my pride and joy.
One went missing, presumed eaten by the
coyotes who must also eat and breed,
who may have eaten their mother.

The two remaining have been kept,
grudgingly, by my brother and his wife.
In an unheated back room
which is warmer
than the dry, frigid Nevada nights.

Yesterday was the day to take these two
remaining kittens to the shelter —
for their care or killing —
it would not be on my brother’s soul.

A county shelter refused them, they were born
in the city.
The city shelter wanted twenty precious dollars
each, for transfer of responsibility, 
being sure to note that they’d soon be put to death 
if no one adopted them.

My brother, also raised in Bucsa and well used to
the routine slaughter of creatures said,
“Well for forty dollars, I can wring their necks myself!”

But he wouldn’t; and didn’t.

These two strays remain his, and are now part of our family.