One morning last week I found myself on my pre-retirement work day schedule — up early and alone. Bill had gone off with son Joe for the day.
It occurred to me that I could go through a drive-thru and bring home some cinnamon raisin biscuits for breakfast. Those were one of the occasional things I missed about working.
I was savoring the idea of a biscuit, a cup of hot tea, and the newspaper with ample time to enjoy all three as I walked out to the Jeep in the driveway.
But it wasn’t meant to be, for there in the gutter in the direct path of the driveway lay a cat, presumably dead.
It was not that I was tied emotionally to this particular cat. True, she was a current boarder at our back door, one of a herd of wild ones that shows up to be fed daily. But Bill takes care of that detail.
She was just one of many who formed a sea of fur I walked through daily before the annual cleaning of the porch and closing of the screen door to animal traffic.
You may remember Sam, the wild tomcat who took up residence on our porch a couple of years ago. As last winter approached, Sam apparently decided to become a house cat.
We assumed he was sharing his time with another household because he would be gone for days at a time. When he discovered that when we went out he did too, he must have adopted the other family full time. We haven’t seen him, dead or alive, for a long time.
However, he left his harem here. There is Mama Kitty from two years ago who became Grandma when her baby became Mama last year. Most of their litters went off to happy homes.
Then this spring Grandma did her cat thing and produced another litter — this time on the porch glider. I guess it was her way of telling me she was boss out there. After a busy day with lots of company she moved her babies over the hill out back.
Several days later Mama Kitty dropped a litter back of the glider. This was an aggravation, but not a problem. We knew that another busy day here and those kittens would be moved over the hill, not to return until they were ready to be adopted.
Then the dead cat (who was alive then) arrived. She was usually called “the new one,” and she apparently thought our porch was the birthing center.
In due time we had another litter in a box by the porch glider. Even the names got confused, or very organized, because any one of the three mother cats would lay still so any kittens could nurse.
The day we cleaned the porch, the third litter went over the hill, courtesy of Grandma Kitty who was “baby sitting” for them that day. But, all of them who could eat cat food showed up for daily food, served by Bill.
I knew Grandma Kitty would take care of the babies, so I was not really upset by “the new one’s” early demise. When you live on a busy street you learn to accept the fact that pet cats don’t last long. They come and go.
What bothered me was her position. There was no way to back out of the driveway without squishing that cat. I could never have enjoyed the biscuit if I did that. So, I just waited for Bill to come home and take care of his cat.
Now you may wonder at my calm acceptance of this situation, but Bill feeds the Mamas, and our children train the kittens to the litter box when they’re ready, and play with them while they’re here, and when the kittens are ready to move to a new home we just post the annual sign that says “Free Kittens, Litter trained, People tamed” out front and the kittens move on. Good pets to good folks.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on June 10, 1998.