My parents’ house backs up to fields and flood plains and a creek (which we pronounce “crik”). Every so often, wild kitties appear and disappear and nobody thinks much of it. Two falls ago, my parents suddenly started to see teensy kittens darting across their yard, and Bertie was one of those kittens. The neighbors do not like cats, so they started trapping the kittens and dumping them out in the country to die (don’t even get me started). As soon as my parents figured this out, they started sneaking over and releasing the kittens from the traps.
One by one, the kittens disappeared until there was just a tabby and a white one left. Every day, my mom went out and called to them, and she started leaving food on the deck for them. The white kitten seemed to warm up to her, but the tabby kept his distance. This went on all winter, until the white kitty disappeared, most likely snatched by a hawk or an owl or the fox that has a den nearby.
The tabby kitty wanted nothing to do with people. But my mom kept at it, patiently calling and leaving food. And he started coming around more. And then he started sitting in her flower beds. And then in the yard. And then on the patio. And once when I was there visiting, I got him to come up on the deck and eat while I was sitting there talking to him. He got braver and braver and eventually, he let my mom pet him. And she fell in love with him.
And then he vanished. For months, she called and called his name, every day, morning and night. She left food out, she went for a walk back in the woods and looked for him. But he was gone. And it broke her heart.
Around that time, my sister sent my mom info about two barn kittens who had been rescued from the cold and needed a home. My mom called for Bertie one last time, and then she went and adopted the kittens.
The very next week, Bertie sauntered up on the deck like nothing had happened, looking decidedly chubby and totally unharmed.
And that’s how my parents ended up with four cats.
Bertie has been a permanent fixture since then. He’s the sweetest, most loving cat. He still gets to go outside some mornings but he spends his nights curled up in a fleecy blanket, safe from owls and foxes and hawks. He’s such a love bug, and the only kitty in my life who legitimately gives me kitty kissy eyes.