BLACK CATS WINK AT THE MOON

We attract Black Cats.

In the previous 7 years two black cats had, separately, found my husband and I. At those times, we humans were in different places and had no idea of one another’s existence. Now we were moving into our first home together, a 1770’s colonial in Connecticut with apple orchard, small forest and old tobacco barn.

“People used to drop off cats at one time,” the new neighbor told me pointing at our barn with her nose. “They think the cats will be happy here living some kind of Disney cartoon inspired life in your barn. You know roast mouse and dancing.”

I nodded and wondered how I had missed seeing the cat’s oven in the barn when we moved in just a week ago. Cat dancing sounding like something we could get into.

“After the town opened a no-kill animal shelter,” the neighbor continued, ” people stopped dropping off cats.”

“We like cats.” I told her, “in fact, my husband is a fool for a cat.” She frowned and gave me a hard stare.

Our new home was over 215 years old, located in a semi-rural neighborhood a million miles and 2.8 hours north of New York City. Our dogs loved the barn and ran into and out of it at will, chasing each others and their tails. The Conneticut property was about ten acres of pastoral heaven. It seemed all the animals were all glad to be out of warm climates and into a land of Seasons.

One chill Fall day when I went to the old tobacco barn to retrieve gardening tools, a soft mew greeted me. A very small black cat was hiding in the wall between the abandoned cow milking stations and the larger tobacco drying area. 

We already had two black cats which had adopted us in different places in our distant past. Daddy, who had been a feral cat on a farm in South Carolina. And Tuffy who had been a loner on the marshes of Ballona Creek in California and had moved with me to Florida. We named the new cat Sweeters because she was extraordinarily affectionate. She moved into the house within two weeks.

The three cats, surprisingly, got along very well. They sat together on the window-seat and watching the snow. Later, they lounged together in the gardens and watched the dogs, birds and crouched in readiness when other critters like squirrels and moles showed up.

Within two months another black cat, Baba joined the family. Some years later, Slake arrived. He detoured the barn and came directly to the back door. Slake it turned out, was, a wanderer. After spending winter with us, he took off the next Spring. Just poof, vanished one day after a hearty breakfast.

It’s been thirty years since that time. There have been many Black, and other cats along the way. In all there have been a dozen Black cats who decided we would be their people since that Fall in Connecticut.

We arrived in Virginia in the dead of winter with one Black Cat, China, who had found us eight years previously and one dog, Wobble. China thought she was a dog and Wobble took no offense. Just two months later a very large black cat showed up the garden shed. We named him Espooky. Within ten months he had gone from terrified to civilized and moved into the house and onto a feather sleeping pillow. China was insulted, but over time the two have become wary housemates. Although war has not broken out as yet, China spends quite a bit of her time thinking up ways to insult or annoy Espooky.

In August a black cat walked along the South Pasture fence and made a bee-line for the garden shed. Wobble noticed him first and made a joyous barking foray out to greet the cat, who turned tail for the forest. The black cat returned the next day. He is muscular and midnight black except for two short white socks on his front legs, thus he was christened Socks.

This month Socks filed adoption papers with the Great Feline Hall of Records and formally adopted us. Socks is happy in the garden shed and shows no inclination of becoming a pampered civilized indoor cat and getting involved with China and Espooky,  both of whom regard him with disdain.

My better half was offended when Socks declined a lifetime indoor-living invitation. Socks looked on with interest as his human installed a heated bed in the shed to make sure Socks was warm this winter. Socks gingerly examined the bed, and then settled deep into its folds. Every morning Socks waits on the stone step of the garden shed for his meals, then slips into the forest or scouts the pastures for the day.

I wait and watch patiently for his return, or some other arrival. The next Black Cat who arrives will be Number 13. A Lucky Number.

Black Cats Wink At the Moon.

A book I am working on will feature these cats and others.

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