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Yet Another Cat Story

I have never had a cat in my life. I hesitate to say “owned” when referencing a pet because let’s face it, most of the time, when they come into your life, stealing your heart in the process, THEY own YOU. I can recite the timeline of my existence by the dogs I have loved, starting with Mitzi, a cocker spaniel I had at the tender age of three to Lola, the bijon frises, who is sleeping by my side as I type this. But nope, there are no feline pictures in my family album, no stories of cat antics. Until now.

Several weeks ago, my grandson and I were sitting at the kitchen table engaged in a rather complicated game of Pokemon. The house was unusually quiet as he explained the finer points of how to play, and I basked in the attention that only a seven-year-old can give. Suddenly, he paused and whispered “listen.” There was the faint sound of a cat meowing far off in the distance. “Where is it?” he asked. I shrugged, my mind reeling with the possibilities of the kind of mischief a random cat might make. We set out to find the source. He was filled with excitement; I was full of apprehension.

We found the cause of the commotion moments later, locked in the unfinished part of the basement. Somehow, with the holiday hoopla, the comings and goings of busy days and open doors, he had managed to get in and then was unable to get out. At first, I thought him to be the feral cat that had made a brief appearance here a few months ago. We are accustomed to the parade of critters who manage to find their way to our country house, but this one, an orange tabby, was a different color. More importantly, he was remarkably friendly. He rubbed against my leg and purred loudly as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

Obviously, he was starving and quickly found his way up the stairs and into the kitchen, where he managed to scarf down a bowl of Lola’s food in a matter of seconds. The collar he wore indicated that he belonged to somebody. Such a sociable cat surely must live nearby, I figured. Once he was done, I shooed him out so that he could return home. But much to my surprise, the next morning, he was sitting outside my kitchen door, patiently waiting for breakfast and a bit of human companionship. I had to admit that his tenacity was impressive.

I called neighbors and posted on social media. Within a few hours, I learned that the cat belonged to a young couple who had recently built a home about a mile away. We loaded him into the truck and set out to return him to his family. They didn’t seem at all surprised that he had found his way to our house. Apparently, this is his modus operandi.

“He’s an outdoor cat, who loves people and likes to roam,” they said. “We all him Concrete. It is what happens when you allow a four-year-old to name the pet.”

I chuckled. It seemed an appropriate name for an animal so resilient, solid and strong.

We bid our goodbyes and headed home. But later that evening, Concrete reappeared at our back door, waiting to be invited inside. I was thinking that perhaps I should rename him Boomerang.Was there something special about us, I wondered? It has been almost three weeks since he made his presence known, and I dare say, he thinks he lives here. On sunny days, he can be found napping on the back patio. On cool nights, he snuggles under a pillow on the front porch furniture. He greets us when we leave the house and is often waiting for us when we return. He is a constant presence as he explores the yard. It has been fascinating to watch him hunt for small prey on our property, stalking them like his ancestors might have done. As a resuIt, I suspect that the field mice have moved on to safer pastures. That's a bonus. For a while, we continued to occasionally feed him dog kibble until we ended up with a can or two of cat food in the grocery store cart. Now, he appears to have bonded with us. Maybe dinner is better at our house.

I have been told that while you may choose a dog, a cat chooses you. That may or may not be true, but it seems that Concrete has adopted us as his second family. I must admit I had preconceived notions about cats being finicky and aloof. I thought them to be stingy with their affection. Concrete has proved me wrong. Sure, he isn’t really my cat, but honestly, he already has me wrapped around his furry paw.

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