“I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.”
Many, many years ago in Montréal (Québec, Canada), I went to get my ears pierced for the first time. The ear piercing specialist, recommended to me by a dear college friend, had an office in the west end of downtown Montréal. My husband (he was my fiancé at the time) accompanied me to her office, for moral support. When we walked in, we were taken aback by all the cat figurines, cat artwork and cat photos that filled the office. Ruth was clearly a seriously eccentric cat aficionado.
A cat lady.
Evidently, her eccentricities had an impact on us because, decades later, we still remember her (and her office) vividly.
Which brings me to my own story of how I seem to have morphed into …. yes, a cat lady.
I’ve only ever had two cats: Crabby Abby (a stunningly beautiful white Persian cat who died of cancer in 2008) and Miranda (a mischievous black Maine Coon cat who thinks she is a black Labrador retriever like our dog, Bacchus). Miranda (a.k.a. “Puss”) is an indoor cat. She does not step a dainty foot outside the house.
However, about a month ago (early May), something inside me snapped.
And this is how it happened:
Once upon a time, there was a South Florida garden that became a haven for cats and kittens that have no homes. Yes, strays. They are beautiful, yet also sad creatures. They fight for their lives every day and every so often a Human gives them some solace and kindness. These creatures have a code of honor that they live by. I would like to introduce you to Fric and Frac — and their mother, Foo (these are my nick names for them). As it turns out, “Foo” gave birth to “Fric” and “Frac” in my garden. Nocturnal creatures, they frolic after dusk on my patio chairs and throughout my garden. At 7:30 pm (every day), I feed them fresh slices of turkey breast (sodium-free) or canned tuna – along with premium Orijen (Canadian, preservative-free/organic hard cat food/kibble). I fill up bowls of fresh, cold water – twice a day, so that they have some reprieve from the hot Florida climate. They will not come near me because -– although they know that I feed them – they nevertheless have a mortal fear of Humans. Humans can be mean to stray creatures. It is best that they continue to be wary, because if not – they may perish. The other stray cats (and there are many) are very respectful of this new family of kittens. They pass by the garden and do not eat their food. They understand. This is the code of honor that I refer to. It is instinctive. The picture (see below) is of “Foo” lying on our patio chair, with “Fric” reposing above her and “Frac” resting on top of the back cushion. It is late at night and you can see their eyes.
One night ago, drama ensued. Frac was nowhere to be seen. Foo was frantic, looking throughout the neighborhood for her lost kitten. Her two male companions (don’t ask!) – tomcats I nick-named “Smokey” and “Crazy Cat” – suddenly no longer guarded the yard. They disappeared, in search of the missing kitten (we couldn’t figure out which one of the two gentlemen cats is the father).
For one and a half days, the yard was empty. And I, the crazy cat lady, was distraught. Fric was hiding under the car, without a sibling to tousle with.
This evening, at 7:30pm per usual, I placed the food and water outside. Foo and Fric came to eat. But the two tomcats and the lost kitten (Frac) were still nowhere to be seen. A little after midnight, I peered out through the window and what I saw made grin. Foo was lying down serenely, while Fric and …yes, Frac! … were suckling milk from her. Nearby, Smokey watched and kept guard. He was, after all , the tomcat who brought Frac home. Perhaps the mystery of the father’s identity has finally been solved.
As a special treat, I went out (an hour later) with some more food. Foo hissed at me, to warn me not to step too close to her babies. Looking through the window, I can see the entire cat family enjoying a celebratory feast of fresh tuna.
I am honored to be their caretaker … if only for a brief moment in time.