I am one of those crazy old ladies who feeds stray cats. They are always shy, but seem thrilled to be given a hearty meal and a bowl of clean water. My darling Molly was a feral cat, but over the weeks of being fed and given a soft bed under the bushes, she lost her shyness and eventually sat on my lap. She came inside a couple of times to investigate and the third time she stayed and is now a part of my family.
The strays come and go and sometimes one disappears, but I don't like to think about that. But one day a beautiful long-haired white cat was sitting at the edge of the forest in back of my "cottage" when I looked outside. She was staring intently at my windows and glimpsed me as soon as I appeared.
Smiling, I asked in a soft voice if she was hungry. Her blue-green eyes grew very round.
"Would you like some food?"
Well, of course she would. Word had gotten around the woods that a lady was very generous with the cat food (the good kind) and all you had to do was stare intently at her back windows until she spotted you. Within a few minutes the lady would appear with a big dish of hard and soft Fancy Feast. White Cat would run into the woods and hide (she remained completely visible of course and continued to stare intently at my face.) I would cheerfully announce that lunch was served and disappear into the house. She would creep out of the forest, looking around to make sure she had not been seen and then fall upon the food. I would run into my bedroom so I could watch her eat. She broke my heart. The poor cat ate as if she were starving and licked the dish clean. After that White Cat was a daily visitor. Sometimes she came twice in one day. And she was not fussy; she ate whatever I would put in front of her. When a storm was predicted a few weeks later, I worried about her. I had taken to placing towels warmed from the dryer in her favorite spot and watching her sleep there during the day and through the night.
I knew the storm was coming so I took out her dinner and set out the warm towels in a protected spot. My three black indoor cats were of course very interested in all this as they sat on the windowsill watching intently. Naturally, they disapproved as they believed the food I was giving White Cat and the others was rightfully theirs. So I climbed into bed, got under the covers and hoped for the best. As always, I was soon joined by the Three Musketeers and we all sailed into Dreamland.
The next day I was horrified to find that a huge tree trunk had fallen at the edge of the woods, bringing with it broken branches and tangled vines. White Cat's bed was covered with vines and small branches and she was gone. White Cat was easily frightened and must have been terrified when branches began falling on her. I did not see my beautiful cat friend for three days and I prayed that she would return unharmed.
On the fourth day I looked out the window and there was White Cat looking as she always looked--hungry.