(If you’re just joining the journey now, here are my adventures with the interloper: Adventures with the Interloper or How to Befriend a Stray Cat, Relationship Building, Sharing a Meal with a Stray, Endings & Forever Homes, A Little Update, Guess Who Came for Breakfast, Returned.
Hearts can heal. Relationships can be repaired. Even tenuous relationships between little wary black strays and tenderhearted women who get it wrong.
Last summer, “The Interloper” and I embarked on quite an adventure together. He discovered my back patio and I discovered him sleeping in my deck chair. He wasn’t friendly. There were no purrs or cuddles. He was nobody’s pet. But he became my… I’m not sure what to call him. Even companion is too strong. The way that I think about our relationship is that we entered a story together.
Some days the story was lovely. We’d share moments of stillness in the backyard. He was wild and I was honoured by his trust. He kept his distance but he stayed. He stayed.
He started showing up in the mornings, and I started to feed him. In fact, sometimes I would leave the backdoor open and leave the bowl inside. On occasion he’d venture in, wary, always, but not enough to pass up food. I’d putter and let him do his thing. It was comfortable, for a time.
One day, when the weather got colder, as he was having breakfast in the kitchen, I closed the door. In a heartbeat everything changed. He went wild. In a fierce panic he scrambled onto the kitchen table, launching himself directly at the back window and falling immediately onto our bookcase, scattering belongings everywhere and hattering a crystal wedding gift along with my heart. My reflexes weren’t up to his speed but I opened the door immediately and out he bolted in terror.
Oh, my heart.
Almost all of me thought this story was over. I felt sad. I felt wrong. I felt raw. I’d see the Interloper occasionally on the street, here and there, throughout the fall. I carried a canister of cat crunchies in my purse as a peace offering. I thought about all the learnings – about attachment, about sovereignty, about being allowed to get it wrong, about stray cats. I looked out the back door every day but he wasn’t there.
In the snow I saw footprints and I wondered. I wondered enough to put out food in the mornings and most days it was gone. One cold winter’s day I opened the door to this…
Oh, my heart.
I put out food every day and he took it. I tried different offerings of shelter and he didn’t. Gradually we started to feel comfortable together again. On warmer days, I would wrap myself in a blanket and sit in the doorway, watching him eat, sharing quiet time. I started to notice that he’d stay longer if I was there than if I went inside for a while. We were making peace with one another and it felt good.
We saw one another just about every day.
I wondered what would happen with the coming of spring. Would he become an unruly teenager? Would I be wrong about him being a boy and suddenly have kittens born under our stairs? Would we continue just as we had, finding a respectful and comfortable ease with one another? Would we get closer?
On the day the snow was finally gone, so was he.
I haven’t seen him once, not in the yard or in the neighbourhood. I imagine he’s prowling and sowing his wild oats. I imagine he’s finding food in the softened world of springtime. And I know that I have softened too. I’m not raw anymore or sad or worried about getting it wrong. I feel at peace, knowing that we tended to the needs in each of us and that we are both open and exploring the wide, wide world.
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