The Winter Catposted by Jazz at 2/05/2005 08:03:00 AM
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I first saw the winter cat two years ago around Christmas time. He's a big, stout tom cat, solid white (though mostly gray now) of one of the breeds with long, very thick fur and a pushed in nose. During the winter, he seems to be outdoors all of the time, and I'm always frightened for his safety. I've seen him in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, early in the morning (like today) and late in the afternoon or evening. I don't know for sure, of course, but I don't think he ever goes indoors and I don't even know if he has a home. But then again, I can't be sure. He might be one of those cats with an owner who lets him run free outside and he just likes to stay out for days at a time before going home to rest up. I don't see him every day, so it's impossible to say. That's why I don't attempt to capture him.
As I said, though... I do worry. That first winter I saw him very often, patrolling the neighborhood for food. Many of the houses in my area, including mine, have open front porches with a roof, but no enclosing windows and an open set of steps leading up to them. That's where many of us keep our BBQ grills, some patio chairs, and our trash cans and recyclables. The winter cat goes for the recyclables. Anyone with cat food, or even tuna, who puts their cans out there without rinsing them thoroughly has set up an invitation for the winter cat. He hangs out on porches when nobody is outside eating what he can find left over in the cans.
He came around all winter, but one day in the spring he just stopped showing up. I was afraid he had died. We get some nasty winters here with many feet of snow and ice falling which sticks in his fur, and we often go days at a time without the temperature getting above zero. After some months passed, I was sure he was dead.
Then, last winter, after the snow began to fall, the winter cat showed up again. He came around all winter and, when spring came, he disappeared yet again. This winter he hadn't come around. I had already begun to think that either his family moved away (on the optimistic assumption that he has a family) or that he'd just died. But sure enough, this morning, there he was again. He glared at me up on the porch with my coffee, seeming to resent that I was out there so he couldn't inspect our cat food cans.
Good luck, winter cat. Good to have you back, but we've got many weeks of winter left to go.