How a visitor became a new family member

What do you do when a young cat shows up at your doorstep on a cold winter night? Arriving home after dark the other evening, I heard a curious series of ‘meows’ penetrating the chilly air. The small creature bellowing his introduction cautiously peered around the side of the house as I fumbled for my keys. Bending down and quietly calling “here kitty” to lure him over, a lithe black and white body guardedly approached. The dark night enveloped his mostly black frame, but his feet, chest and a circular area around his mouth were bathed in white.

Hesitantly, he kept a distance just out of my reach as he determined my intent. Hunched low with the wind howling around us, the cat finally relented to his curiosity and came close enough for me to begin petting him. His motorboat purr instantly turned on when I began to rub his head. Assuming he belonged to one of the neighbors, I gave him a final chin scratch and headed for the door to get out of the cold.

Boy, was I surprised the next morning when I found him curled up in a blanket lying on one of my lawn chairs. He immediately jumped out of the chair and began rubbing my leg, quite happy to see me. Reaching down to give him a rub, I realized he must surely be thirsty. Going inside to find a bowl for water, I battled with the idea of giving him some food.

Knowing that once you begin feeding any living being, you have a friend forever, I fought the urge to attach myself to this young cat. I have two very old feline companions and one rowdy 2-year-old cat that are solely indoors. My old Tom cat is showing signs of both physical and mental decline in recent months, causing me to grumble at some of his peculiar tendencies. So often, I have mumbled under my breath, “No more cats!”

Battling with my conscience, I fetched a bowl of water but ashamedly did not offer the youngster any food. Wrangling with the decision, I justified my predicament with the assumption that he would go back to his home in the daylight. I paused briefly to watch the cat lap up mouthfuls of water, feeling guilty as I turned and left for work.

Elton John was blaring “Bennie & the Jets” on the radio driving down the road that morning, and I thought of the black and white fellow that suddenly appeared in my life. The lyrics kept playing in my subconscious sporadically throughout the day, and I couldn’t help but wonder why this little creature had discovered my porch to hang out on.

Half of me was relieved to see Bennie when I got home from work that evening, however, the practical side of my gray matter continued to resist the allure of caring for another animal, especially a cat. The fact that I had manifested a name for the unexpected visitor was a clear indication of my resignation. And then I set a bowl of food in front of the hungry guest, knowing that I had made a commitment.

Of course, the poor thing was ravenous. As I watched him wolf down the morsels, I took a closer look at his overall features. His body frame was stout for his size, alluding to the thought that surely he belonged to someone nearby who had been feeding him regularly. His coat was thick from living outside, scattered with dandruff flakes along the back hindquarters. Otherwise he appeared to be a healthy fellow and I surmised him to between 6 and 8 months old.

My daughter snapped a photo of our newfound friend and posted it on several Facebook pages. Searching lost and found sites with no luck, it seemed as if destiny brought Bennie into my life. After several days of worrying about the youngster, I relented to my fate and called the veterinarian. 

While I continue to ponder why this little being suddenly appeared, the cyclic laws of nature resolve my resistance. Tom is old and fragile, his time as my companion certainly narrowing as age overcomes his functionality. Perhaps Bennie’s appearance is support and reassurance when Tom’s time ends. Maybe the little guy just needed a good home.

For whatever reason, Bennie appeared on my porch because we were supposed to be together.     

Charlé Thibodeau has been a passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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