I was just minding my own business. In the late afternoon, I liked to hang out under the old lady's rose bushes to grab some of the last of the sun's bubbles before it scooted over the rooftops. The old lady had a very pleasant and tidy garden. No leaves to muss me up. No rocks to dig into my body. The plants and her house protected me from the wind. And, best of all, the birds flocked to the bird feeders on the tree in the middle of the yard.
It was only right that I politely said "Thanks" whenever the old lady, the bushy-haired tall guy, or the younger old lady walked by. The guy always petted me and said kind things to me. I didn't get much of human talk until evening. As for the women—they ignored me. I think the old lady was hard of hearing. The younger old lady sometimes glanced at me and said rather firmly, "Stay away from the birds." Or, "You better not be pooping there." Honestly, I didn't. At least, not after she mentioned it.
The days were getting shorter—and cooler—when it all of a sudden happened. My relationship with those three humans changed. I had just stretched myself out of a nap. Sitting on the old lady's walkway, I was pondering where I might find a morsel. The front door creaked open and the old lady walked out. She held a piece of chicken. Of course, I walked towards her, but I stopped a few feet away. She put the food on the cement and walked back to the steps. It was delicious!
The next day, it happened again around the same time. The day after that, I came by earlier, and she came out with food. Then one day, I found a plate full of human food. It was okay. You had to be hungry to like it. I ate a little bit to be polite. After awhile, I noticed the younger old lady sometimes put food out for me. She still said, "Stay away from the birds." But in a nice, friendly way. She also began to pet me.
I came by another day and found a bed on the front stoop. It was a towel on a piece of cardboard, which was replaced by a blanket tucked into a cardboard box a few days later. I went to sleep there before dawn and wouldn't you know it when the front door opened a few hours after sunset, the old lady had breakfast for me.
Eventually, the younger old lady moved the bed and my food dish and drinking bowl into the backyard. She also hung out with me. At first, it was for a very short while. I had to teach her not to leave so quickly. She actually let me sit on her lap. I learned that I could not swipe at her with my claws. She didn't like that at all. She also didn't like me to jump up on the table where they kept the canned and boxed food for me.
Yes, I was finally allowed inside the house. They brought my meal dishes into the house because the other cats were eating from them. "You can hang out here," the younger old lady said. "But, don't bring other cats here." One evening, I even chased a buddy away because he was freaking her out.
It was a great life I had with the three of them. They had made me a little shelter that kept me quite warm during the chilly nights. Indoors, I had my own chair with a warm pillow to sleep on. Sometimes, the old lady laid on the couch next to my chair and she let me nap alongside her.
The old lady didn't like me to leave. When it was time for me to go, I asked the guy or the younger old lady to let me out. Usually, I found them upstairs working in their office. Going upstairs was like walking through a mine field in the dark. The stairs, the hallways, and their office were lined with piles of books, papers, boxes, and stuff. I would've enjoyed exploring their territory but it was not my place to do so.
With each day, I was going over to their house more often and staying longer each time. The last few weeks, I got into a pattern of heading over there at 10 or 11 a.m. I slept for an hour or so, left, came back around 2 or 3 p.m., and slept until 5 or 6 p.m. I found myself heading to my shelter anywhere between midnight and 3 a.m. just so I could be there when the old lady opened the sliding door in the morning.
One especially cold night, the sliding door opened, and the young old lady stuck her head out and invited me indoors. I ate a little then flopped onto my chair. She and the guy sat next to me and took turns petting me until I had almost fallen asleep. I say "almost" because I heard them try to quietly get up and walk away. From that night onward, I slept in the house. It didn't matter what time I returned, she was there to open the door and they were there to lull me to sleep.
I really didn't want to leave them.
The tale of Mr. L. Gatto Cat continues on Thursday.