Mama Kitty appeared in the neighborhood in the summer of 2014. She made her bones under one of our feeders so our yard became a stop along her purposeful prowls. I wrote about her recently when she tried to ambush a dove sitting on the patio but her switching tail gave her away where she crouched behind a column.
I thought she was completely feral but one day that fall as Sandy and I sat at an outdoor table, the cat licked herself from a safe distance for a while and then crept closer. She approached within a few feet, dashed to the other side of us, edged closer, dashed to safety, returned. It took a while but I found myself lightly stroking her back.
After that the cat became a more frequent visitor. Others in the neighborhood were watching her too. Our friend across the street began leaving food out and a cardboard box with a towel in it. She bonded with the cat and began calling her Mama Kitty. I’ve forgotten if the cat had babies or just looked pregnant but Mama Kitty stuck.
These days Mama Kitty reminds me of T. S. Eliot’s Rum Tum Tugger. When she’s in, she wants out. When she’s out, she wants in. Some nights she curls up in bed with our neighbor. But before the night’s over she’ll want out. I know she’s out when I look across the street and see that our neighbor has left her garage door up just enough for a cat with wanderlust to begin and end an adventure.
Sometimes during the deep hours one of our outdoor security lights snaps on. If I’m quick, I may spot Mama Kitty sitting at the edge where light fades into dark. I think she’s admiring her handiwork. I think she turns the light on for the fun of it. I think that cats, even mama ones, like to play for their own amusement in the secret cover of night.