A week or two after we moved in, we met our neighbor on the other side of the double shotgun we now live in, and the black cat who lived with her, and the kittens this cat had just had. Shadow was a local stray who’d decided she was Crystal’s cat, or at least that Crystal’s apartment was the best place to have some kittens. There were four: one black cat with two white toes, one stripey grey, and two calicos. Over the ensuing months all but one of the kittens stopped showing up one by one; they seem to have wandered off to find places to live in the general society of Mid-City Stray Cats. (New Orleans has a lot of stray cats; when people got lifted out of flooded houses in Katrina, the rescuers made them leave their pets behind, and the survivors have been living here and there ever since.) I’d pet them whenever they were on our side of the porch, if they’d let me.
At the beginning of last month, Crystal and her family seemed to vanish. The cat tree and food bowl next to her door were gone. We were concerned about Shadow and the remaining kittens; she reappeared after a few days. This happened again this past weekend – maybe she’s just making a habit of going on a little vacation near the beginning of the month? I’ll have to ask about this next time I see her, if she reappears.
For the past couple days I’d been finding eviscerated roaches close to the front door of the apartment. Something about them felt like cat offerings: the ancient bargain, where the cats kill small annoyances, and get a nice warm place to live. Yesterday as I was leaving the house, I turned around to close the gate that leads to the back of the place, and saw the black cat with the two white toes leaping in the air, chasing after a dragonfly or butterfly or one of the other numerous flying bugs that hangs out by the wildflowers growing there.
And then today I got back from brunch and there she was, just sitting on one of the chairs. Waiting. I looked at her and she looked at me, and then I sighed, and got out my bike and ran out to the pet store for a scratching post and a couple dishes and some food.
I think we’ve got a cat now.
If our neighbor doesn’t reappear in a week then we are gonna get this little fleabag a flea collar with her name and address on it.
edit: Sugarfoot may have just claimed a rolling suitcase that’s been lying around open on the floor since we first got here as her temporary Cat Bed.