Sunday, September 30, 2007

The End of an Autumn Day, with a Wild Kitty

I'm lying on my side, in the cold grass of early fall - wondering how a modern girl like me ended up trying to communicate with a stray cat through rudimentary body language.

Every night, I set out cat food for our newest stray, the almost all-black cat temporarily named "Pretty Kitty" (as that's what he seems to respond to). I was a little late tonight, and he ended up at the bottom of the deck stairs, staring up with a most impatient look in his eyes. I take it he's comfortable getting food from us, at the very least. He did his traditional *mew mew HISS mew*, and ran off to a safe distance to watch and wait while I refilled his bowl. Tonight I thought I'd try to get a little closer to him.

I sat down on the ground near the food. He thought about coming closer, but thought better of it. The wind was sharp: the sky - darkening. The sun had already set. The ground still holds a touch of summer warmth, but the grass is cold. The detritus of the regular bird flocks we get at our feeder lies around me (feathers, seed shells, and - well, if you've seen statues in cities, you know what else birds leave behind).

After a few minutes, I thought I'd try doing what he does to me: lying over on my side to show I'm not a threat. I lay on my side, but couldn't help but laugh a little. He looked at me, rather puzzled. I felt like a pretty big tool at that point. I lay there for a few minutes, then sat up, hoping he got the point.

By this time, I've been there long enough that the birds figure the coast is clear, and show up looking for a final snack before bedtime. About 10 - 12 birds, mostly grey juncoes, appear in the trees and tall weeds nearby. Fortunately, the cat shows nothing more than a passing interest in them. It feels strange to see the birds so very close - and them not noticing me at all. I get to hear the soft peeps they use to communicate with each other, to see the scrap between siblings who both want the same spot on the feeder. I'm just a few feet away from a sparrow hopping about in the tall weeds. It's so quiet - I feel like I'm intruding on a quiet evening ritual, but blessed to be able to witness it nonetheless.

"Pretty Kitty" starts to blink (a friendly gesture we both share back and forth) - but stretches them out longer and longer. It looks like he's getting comfortable and sleepy, and not likely to come closer this night. So I leave, vowing to try again. He can't avoid me forever, no more than any of the other feral cats we've captured, tamed, & made part of our family were able to.

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