I don’t mind how strange I seem when I answer the door. It’s my place.
I didn't know the woman at the door in dove grey exercise gear and a worried expression. 'Do you have a cat?'
I knew and she could clearly see that there were three bowls of cat food, a pet box and a cosy cardboard box of cat bed proportions that contained a floofed-up Qantas blanket.
'No. I don’t…have a cat.'
Her story was a short one. She’d moved in to #3 earlier in the week and by late Friday afternoon was door knocking trying to locate the owner of a deceased cat she had driven past on the front steps of #2.
I live at #5. The end of the line with the largest most glorious expanse of concrete I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling my front yard. A fringe of tiers of manicured shrubbery reaching to the windows surrounds the property.
I explained I fed the occasional stray cat from the vacant lot over the fence.
It's true they did occasionaly go for a stroll along the fence but for most of the past year they have lived in tunnels in the hedge and one took the lead with snuggling in the cat bed on a chilly night. They sprawl under the car and occasionally one will hop up on my bedroom window and cast a morning light shadow in the shape of a round headed man with a crew cut.
The cat box had been a recent acquisition to take one of them to the vet for a mercifully short walk over the rainbow bridge.
My new neighbour described what she had found, the colour and size. I had names for at least 5 regular cats, and then two more who made a nuisance of themselves hanging around. From her description, all mine and as far as I knew Marmalade from over yonder and Fat Curt from next door were all accounted for.
But I wasn’t admitting to having a cat. People have asked what I was going to do with all my cats. Nothing. It was only in times of very bad health I’d ever been able to catch one.
We had an arrangement. I fed them twice a day, and they provided moments of distant affection. They know my movements. I come home, feed them, followed by a burst of tapping before moving to another room and falling asleep with the tv on.
I am so close to a new routine and don't mind the occasional interruption but our short conversation through the screen door was coming to an end.
I was still denying owning a cat and I had to tell her, I wasn’t up to helping her dispose of the cat. I said something about maybe it was something I could do in the dark, if I couldn't actually see anything too awful.
In truth, I am one deceased cat away from a nervous breakdown. My street wise cats were the best kind of cat until one got beaten up by a bigger stray. That was horrendous.
But the rest of the time, they didn’t need kitty litter or letting in or out or anything else that ate into my time. Just food. And that was a pleasure, seeing a mix of personalities converging on my porch.
Her eyes had also adjusted from bright afternoon sunlight enough to see into my place. Blackout curtains, one lamp and an array of computer screens covered in words.
She backed away, 'I’m so sorry to have disturbed you.' Her face said, I have made a huge mistake.
What did she see? maybe I will attempt some kind of neighbourly relationship, and break the habit of a lifetime. That is something for future me to think about once these edits are finished. Good bye 2017. Thanks for all the cats.
|No..I don't have a cat. I am too busy writing.|