Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dark Grey

Stray cats are to children what candy is to children.  

This is just once piece of wisdom I've gathered in the last week.  I've also learned that telling people your five year-old beat you up is even more embarrassing than walking around town with a black eye, but that's a story for tomorrow.

Last week during the peak of our outrageous heat wave, I attempted to take a few pictures of the boys outside my house.  It was Graham's unofficial first day of preschool, since it was only an hour-long session with a parent meeting to kick off the year, but with his backpack on and ear-to-ear grin on his face, I had to grab the camera to capture the moment.

As I struggled (unsuccessfully) to clear the fog from my camera lens, I began to hear some meowing much louder than what my cat is capable of producing.  And then, out of the open door of my van, jumped an obviously hungry and moderately scratched up black cat.  Cael, being Cael, jumped ship and ran toward the door, convinced that the cat would surely infect him with the Plague, while Graham quickly assured us that we would all be just fine, because "black squirrels are very nice".  "It's probably looking for nuts," he told us.  I ignored Cael's snicker at that one.  I had other things to worry about.

I did the traditional parent/homeowner thing and refused to acknowledge the cat because it would inevitably hang around the house and become attached to us, and without any knowledge of this cat's condition, I was hesitant to approach it.  So off we went to school, wishing the cat luck and hoping that it would find a cool place to rest out of the sun.

It did.

When I came home, the cat had cozied up on my front porch and jumped into action when we pulled in the driveway.  During the short walk from the van to the front door, it became clear that this was a tame cat, likely a former pet of someone's, and not a threat to us, save for its relentless effort to get some attention which nearly caused me to trip and fall on my own front steps.

Once inside, the kids were so concerned with our friend, and the cat so enamored with the attention, that it spent the rest of the day either sunning itself on the sidewalk or escaping the heat in the shade of the rhododendron bush.  That cat must have been hungry.  But I couldn't feed it, could I?

When I was about eight years old my neighborhood friends and I took to a stray cat that we had named Squeakers.  After providing cat food for nearly a week, and surviving several epic playground battles over who truly "owned" Squeakers, the kitten was unceremoniously picked up by the pound and we never saw it again.  It was several years later that I realized the facility it likely reached was not a no-kill shelter, and Squeakers was probably better off being painfully spoiled by a group of motherly elementary school girls.

But this cat wasn't Squeakers.  This cat was a hungry, slightly injured, desperately clingy stray.  And although the first two problems were easily fixable, and the last not necessarily a negative in my book, the right thing was to call the city to have it picked up.

I'd do it tomorrow.  What's one more day with a sweet, dark, affectionate cat on your doorstep?

When I picked Cael up from school, he was surprised to see that Dark Grey (Graham's inventive name for the cat) was still loitering in the yard.

"Yep, he's still here," I commented.  "You know, they say that it is bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.  I wonder what it means if one decides to live on your porch?"

"I think it's time to charge him rent!"  Cael shot back.  What is he learning at school?

By the next morning, I'd nearly decided at that point to march outside with bowls of water and food, but when I returned home from dropping Graham off at school, Dark Grey was gone.  No more furry feline batting at flies on the front step, no more laughable obstacle tangled at my feet. 

It's probably for the best.  Kids get so easily attached.

1 comment:

  1. That same battered cat was lurking around our house & hanging out on our porch furniture. Gabby thinks it's the neighbor's two houses down. Shirley


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.