2003-07-06 - 6:40 a.m.

I have six cats. But on any given day there may be one or two other cats lurking around the food bowls in the back room, or there might be a gang of cats sprawled out on my back deck. These other cats are not mine. They are not the cats I gather at night fall and place back within the confines of my walls. These are not the cats I take to the vet for shots or for minor cuts and bruises. These are the neighborhood cats that sneak in through my cat door for a look inside of what must be considered in the feline world as Cat Paradise. I donít think I am running a Cat Paradise here, but judging from the amount of cats that find their way here, there is something that draws them here. Two of my cats, Smitten and Serendipikitty were both stray cats that lurked for a while before totally capturing my heart and becoming two of six cats that I gather from the outside at night fall. But when my cat number reached six I had the rationality to know that enough is enough. No more cats. But they continue to lurk around, waiting, baiting me with cuteness to become one of the cats that I gather at night fall.

There is Felicity, who actually belongs to my neighbor, who spends at least half her life within my house. She hates me, but she wants to live here. She will throw a huge temper tantrum when I try to catch her when her owner comes to the door to retrieve her. And usually she will escape her ownerís hands and run as fast as she can back into my cat door. Then there is Tangerine Cat who must belong to someone because every once in a while he shows up with a flea collar, but he is always terribly beaten up and scraggly. He doesnít come in, but in the winter he sits at my front door and meows deeply and relentlessly. And there is Demon Cat who (if I didnít already have six cats would surely be mine) sneaks in the house and hides in the basement until he thinks I wonít notice he is in here and then will come upstairs and sprawl out on the couch, trying to blend in with the other cats who will sit in the doorway of the living room and glare at him. Demon Cat I feed on the porch. I believe him to be a true stray and I donít know what to do with him because I love him but know that I cannot possibly have another cat. And then there is Talker. Talker also belongs to the neighbor girl and Talker, like Felicity, when escaping the house next door makes a torpedo run directly into my house, a little black blur running for all he is worth into my cat door. The funny thing about Talker is that while he runs he meows, while he eats he meows, when you pet him he meows. Talker never shuts up. Talker is also rather bow legged. He is the funniest cat I have ever met. He doesnít escape very often, but when he does I welcome him inside even though my cats hate him, because he is so funny.

So these are the cats, that arenít mine, that I deal with every day. These are the cats that I worry over a lot because I wonít be here forever and I donít even want to think of their fate without me here to feed them. Even Talker and Felicity, who have a home, need me because the neighbors kind of neglect their cats and they are obviously always starving. When and if I ever sell this house and move on, I will have to interview prospective buyers for their love, or at least respect of cats. I will not sell this house to anyone who hates cats and thinks that strays should be shot. And of course, I could always take my gang of not my cats with me wherever I may go, but Iím afraid that wherever it is that I might go might also have a gang of not my cats that I will end up with too. I swear it was never my intention to become a crazy cat lady.


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