Tuesday, March 3, 2009
It's a good day for the neighbor's cat to be out checking his trapline, in and around the rock caves in the breakwall, then under the junipers, sneaking ever closer to the bird feeders. I caught him halfway to his goal, and shooed him away. "Go check the cornfield across the road for mice!"
This cat, when he was a kitten barely weaned, had slipped out the open door past his family one very cold winter evening. My neighbor had stopped by my place to use my computer that night - I rarely have visitors in the evening. When she left, we briefly stood on the front porch, saying goodbye, when we heard the faintest, most piteous kitten cries coming from "over there." We called out, "Here kitty kitty kitty" until we saw the little one come bravely "dolphin-ing" through the deep snow. I picked him up, and he was shivering so badly we took him right inside, and gave him some canned cat food mixed with warm water. My neighbor said, If you can't find who owns him, will you keep him? I told her with four cats already, my best friend had said if I even talked about getting another cat, she was getting everyone together for an intervention! My neighbor said, Well, if you don't find where he belongs, my husband can take him to the Humane Society in the city. Since the HS isn't a non-euthanizing facility, I didn't like those prospects. I kept him in bed with me (with the door shut to keep the other four very curious and alarmed cats at bay) He curled up in the warmest spot he could find (my armpit!) stared at me with his kitten-blue eyes for a while, then fell asleep. In the morning, I learned that the people across the road from me and two doors down had lost a kitten, and were thrilled to get him back. I often wondered how much longer he would have lasted if my neighbor hadn't stopped by at just the right time. Now every time I see this cat hanging around my yard, stalking the birdfeeders - I'm certain it's the same kitten, now grown - the irony makes me smile. Once I tenderly welcomed him in his time of need, and now, I enthusiastically chase him away!