Straight off the pages of a James Herriot story, the cul-de-sac has adopted, or more accurately, has been adopted by, a cat. The Cul-de-sac calls her Patches. Patches started hanging around late in the summer of 2008, when it seems that the only human in the family she truly cared about left for college. Better that she finds an alternate close to home rather than trot along the side of a divided highway in search of her girl.
Patches knows the cul-de-sac routines, what time the kids leave for school in the morning, when the bus brings the kids home from school, the sound of my front door opening and closing, and maybe even the sounds of our cars. She definitely knows the sound of the doggie door flap, so she can skedaddle out of the back yard before Bumper Joseph spies her. She keeps me company when I work in the yard and I've noticed her watching me from a safe spot in the driveway when John, Dear and I mow the grass. She has spent the occasional night in various cul-de-sac garages after having been unintentionally closed in.
The kids play with her, of course. I hear the Boy Next Door call for her while he waits for his ride to school. The Young Lady found yarn (what a shock!) to tie in trees and amuse the cat. And Patches does that cat thing where she pretends not to be interested, but really is. We tried introducing Patches and Bumper Joseph to each other, but the strong negative feelings are mutual.
It didn't take too long for this animal lover to start feeding Patches. I kept it a secret for awhile, with the bowl hidden to the side of a planter on the front porch and the cat chow in the front closet. The ever observant Young Lady caught me feeding her one day, and then it was our secret. Until My Hero, who is not a cat person, stepped onto the front porch, spied the dish and bellowed, "WHO IS FEEDING THE CAT!?" The Young Lady didn't waste any time giving me up. (And probably thrilled at the opportunity to tattle on Mom.) But I still feed her. (The Young Lady and Patches.)
Every few days Patches' real mom walks down the street and calls for her. Actually, she calls for Muffin, and Patches follows her home. Sometimes for the night, sometimes for just a short visit.
About this time last year, we started to worry about the approaching cold weather and Patches' plans for the winter. Fortunately Patches is smart enough to set aside her grievances and go home to Muffin's house and where she will stay inside until spring.