Late last fall a scruffy, scrawny, tiger tomcat appeared on our front porch. His fur was roughly the color of the picture on the TV screen on a scrambled station just before it blacks out during a thunder storm—a blackish, grayish color with overtones of amber and green. He gave a few experimental yowls and then proceeded to pace about the porch.
My husband, Bill, summed up the situation, “Looks wild. If we don’t feed him he’ll probably go away.”
I felt sorry for the cat. We had extra milk, so I headed for the kitchen. I never got there because I passed Bill who was headed for the porch with a saucer of milk.
For a few days the cat allowed Bill to provide him with sustenance in the form of milk and left-overs, but made it very clear that touching was forbidden. Bill called the cat Sam.
Once Sam had Bill well trained, he brought his wife along. She was a grey and white tabby that eventually became known as Mama Kitty. She was even more aloof than Sam, but condescended to eat the food that Bill put out on our porch for them.
After a few weeks they made friends with Bill, but still ran away whenever I approached. So Bill had four live, wild, outdoor pets. They made no mess inside, and my only responsibility was to buy the cat food.
The winter winds began to blow and we wondered where the cat family was staying. Then Bill noticed they were coming from the empty house next door.
When Jim, the owner, stopped by one day Bill mentioned the cats. Jim nodded his head and said, “Follow me.”
They went into the house and down to the basement. Bill looked around the floor and then questioning at Jim who pointed to the furnace pipes near the ceiling. There were four major pipes with one cat comfortably stretched atop each pipe.
By then Jim had new renters so he blocked the cats’ doorway. A blizzard was coming so Bill opened our front door to let Sam come in from the cold. He stepped cautiously inside, took a few sniffs, and backed out.
Bill offered the same opportunity to each cat, but all declined. They preferred their frozen independence to our warm home. I like that in a cat.
One freezing cold day Sam did decide to come into the house. When Bill closed the door Sam shot through the downstairs like a demon with Bill in hot pursuit.
Sam circled back to the living room, flew up the stairs, and into the bedrooms, over the beds, and across the chests, knocking down stuff I’d forgotten was up there.
Finally Bill caught him when he stopped, mesmerized by his own reflection in a mirror. Bill picked him up and carefully transported him back to the porch.
We didn’t see any cats for awhile. Apparently Sam told them all about the torture that lurked beyond our front door.
By Christmas they were back. We gave them a special treat, canned cat food. In short order that was added to our list of necessities from the grocery.
Sometimes I wondered how we went from a no inside pets home to regularly buying in the pet food aisle. Now I know. This mama and papa with their one surviving teenage kitten have taken over our front porch.
Not only do they consider it their prime feeding station, but they invite every feline they meet in for a meal. Our porch has become the restaurant of choice for a whole cat community.
So, if you live in our end of town and your cat seems to be off its feed, don’t worry. It’s probably just “eating out” on our front porch.
Editor’s Note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Aug. 30, 1997.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.