Friday, February 12, 2010

Cold Weather Cats

This spate of cold weather we've experienced this winter reminds me of another winter, many years ago. I was sitting in my third-floor apartment one chilly evening when I heard the loudest meowing coming from outside my front door! Stepping outside, I saw a large black tomcat, very thin, and also very friendly. He appeared to be hungry, so I went inside and got him some of crunchies out of my cats' bag, for which he was extremely grateful. Cats are always very polite like this, in my experience.

Having two cats already, I certainly couldn't take him in, especially with his being an unneutered male. I could only imagine the spraying that would take place when he encountered my neutered male. Pee-yew! But when the weather report said that temps would be dipping below freezing that night, what was I to do? I couldn't let him freeze with no warm place to sleep.

Fortunately, I'd recently bought something in a box of which the top had been cut around three sides instead of across the middle. That made it like a sort of flap covering the open side of the box. Taking that outside, I added an old wool blanket that had been a hand-me-down I never used. I turned it with the back of the box toward the north wind and the flapped opening toward my front door. The cat was nowhere to be found when I set it outside, and I hoped he'd be back to find it, and understand that he could get inside if he lifted the flap.

My next-door neighbor's door was right next to mine, so I worried about leaving an unsightly cardboard box in front of my door. The next morning, as I started to pick up the box and move it over to the section of walkway by the sliding glass door off my den, it was heavier...and moving! Out came the black cat, who I'd decided to call "Clarence," and he was hungry again. I gave him some more food, and some water, and made sure he knew where I was moving his box. We had a little stretch of freezing temps that winter, and he slept in that box every night. Once the weather was warmer, I tossed the box and washed the blanket for another cold night.

But that wasn't the end to Clarence's story. I didn't see him again for a long time. But the following summer, I heard loud meowing outside my door one evening. It sounded familiar. Sure enough, it was Clarence! This time he was wearing a collar and appeared to be well fed. I offered him some food, but he wasn't interested in it. He'd just come back to thank me for saving his life in the cold winter, and to let me know that he'd found a home and was okay now. As I said, cats are very polite creatures. I never saw Clarence again, but think of him every time the temperatures dip below freezing in winter.

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