Kindhearted Woman

I don't know how it happened -- maybe some kind of pheromone or special sound, or perhaps cats can read hobo code -- but it seems my house has become the Official Union Hall for Neighborhood Strays Local #36. Because every day, all the time, there are cats that are not ours hanging out on our front porch.

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I feel both thrilled and horrified by this. On the one hand, I like cats, and yet my own remaining cats don't seem to like me very much except at bedtime when I have the electric blanket on, so it is satisfying to know that it's probably just them. They are rather haughty and spoiled, after all, as domestic felines are wont to be.

But on the other hand, it's been really cold lately, and some of the cats that have been hanging around are actually NOT strays -- two of them, in fact, belong to our neighbors on either side -- and it makes me so sad and angry that people are so awful as to leave their PETS to fend for themselves outside when the weather is so bitter and nasty.

I feel particularly sensitive to this lately because my husband is working nights and I seem to have a lot of alone-time. I've gotten somewhat beyond being the hysterical codependent mess that I was a few weeks ago, but I still find myself thinking of the great late potentate, the O-Bert, because when I was home alone before he would always keep me company. The girls just lay on my bed, puddles of fur and cat-food-breath, waiting for me to settle so they can cozy up against me and warm their bellies.

But these neighborhood cats, they're all like Owen was when we found him -- almost aggressively friendly. When I go outside to get some fresh air or check the weather, at least one of them is out there waiting. Two in particular, one named Tabitha ("Tabby") and the other that we call "Grizz" because he looks like a cat would would be called "Grizz," they're always there, and they saunter right up to me, tails in the air, waiting for skritches and the occasional treat that I manage to smuggle out the front door. (Okay, maybe not so occasional.)

Where are they staying when they're not in their owners' homes, if they even have owners? I wonder about this. Whenever I go out they're already there waiting for me. I never see them when they are sleepy-eyed and yawning (eternal vigilance from the elements and the wildlife, no doubt). I think that at least one cat, Tabby, sleeps in my side flower bed sometimes, the one where the baby bunnies were. The bunnies are long gone now, out having bebeh bunnehs of their own no doubt, but there are still telltale signs of something hanging out there -- trampled leaves, suspicious depressions in what's left of the hydrangeas, spots of mulch that look like they have been dug and re-dug. All these spots are near the dryer vent, of course; these kitties are transients, not stupid. I wonder if they're sleeping on a secret stash of missing left socks that never came back out of the laundry.

I like these little four-legged creatures; I feel like they stop by to give me the news of the day, to let me know what's going on in our little plot on the map. I just wish I could do more for them than sit on the bench on the front porch, rubbing them behind the ears and listening to their purrs and meows, watching the cars go by, hearing the snow fall, before I go back into my own house where it's warm and cozy and ... where they cannot go, because they are my little friends, but they are not Mine.

And to think that I used to say I'd never be a "cat person," but now here I am, the neighborhood Crazy Cat Lady. Personally, I don't think I'm crazy, not really, just a soft-headed, bleeding-heart, hippie-dippie, kind-hearted woman.

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