For almost a year I have been feeding a beautiful black cat with luminous green eyes and a long, slim body. She came out of nowhere one day. She was skittish, frightened by noise, other cats, humans, filaments in the wind.
It took months for her to feel comfortable enough to approach me. I started feeding her snacks and food. She then returned to my back porch regularly for “Margie’s Restaurant.” Then, one day, she let me scratch her ears. That first hesitant touch between hominid and cautious feline was magical. My fingertips felt like they were glowing. Perhaps they were.
I named the cat Trixie. There was chagrin ahead: right after Trixie ate she immediately took off westward for my next-door neighbor’s yard. I felt used. Whatever: I took great satisfaction in watching and listening to Trixie chew food. I began to build stories about her: she was semi-feral. She might be living with a posse of other semi-ferals – her kittens? -- in a nest somewhere in my neighbor’s chaotic but archaeologically fascinating backyard with its historic bric-a-brac and stone walls, similar to those of New England in the 18 th , 19th centuries.
Once in a while Trixie would enter my house, where she and my male cat Binky would paw-swat but otherwise ignore each other. Trixie enjoyed spinning my old wine bottle corks on the floor. It was another reason to like her: Trixie was entertained by my makeshift toys, which always bored Binky.
Trixie kept coming over. I never gave up hope that, one day, Trixie would pack her bags and possible kittens and move permanently into my home. I had fallen in love with her.
Then, recently I noticed that Trixie had a reddish-white ulcer in her upper lip, common enough in cats but potentially threatening to their health. I called up Community Action to Save Strays (CATSS) in Oberlin to see if they could get Trixie an appointment for medical care. They leapt to the rescue. Boris, an impassioned volunteer, came to my house with a trapping cage and taught me how to use it. Emails flew back and forth between Shari of CATSS and me three to four times a day about getting Trixie an appointment at Doud’s in Oberlin.
The appointment was set at Doud’s. I had to get Trixie into my house and the next morning, put her in the cage. I kept her indoors all day. She whimpered on and off. I took photos of her and emailed them to my sister in Stockholm.
That night I received a startling email from Shari at CATSS: a family in Oberlin had placed a notice on Facebook that they were missing their black cat. Shari emailed me photos of the missing animal. The cat looked exactly like Trixie. Shari gave the family my phone number and address.
In less than 30 minutes the family showed up on my front porch. The family turned out to be Bob and Martha, my backyard neighbors. And their missing cat was named Dizzy, who was not feral and who was not female: he was a neutered male. They took Dizzy in their arms in ecstatic relief. We stood there together and laughed and talked nervously.
Not only are Bob and Martha deeply concerned about Dizzy’s health issues – mouth and paw flare-ups, which they have sought urgent care from multiple veterinarians on and off, but they feed Dizzy and his brother Sonny platefuls of healthy food every day.
And the reason that I thought “Trixie”/Dizzy lived somewhere in my next-door neighbor’s cluttered yard? It was the only route that she/he could take to get home. because of the massive tangle of bushes, vines and trees separating Bob and Martha’s and my backyards. I never saw Dizzy on his own turf.
But for the grace of CATSS and its devoted, conscientious group of volunteers, the reunion of family and cat might not have taken place. It was a meant-to-be miracle that night and, while I am saddened to have lost “Trixie,” I am supremely happy to have gained new friends with my neighbors. And it is satisfying enough for me to be Dizzy’s Aunt Margie from here on out.