For over a year I have been feeding the black cat with some
pleasure but mostly with a keen sense of obligation. And now the black cat remains daily in
the environs of the cabin: he never leaves for seemingly any reason. I am not
clear where he sleeps at night, but I suspect it is on the property and
underneath some shelter.
You see, as I think I have somewhere here written, for almost thirty years or so I have kept cats, sometimes living with as many as three of
the felines: fed them, cleaned up their excrements, pushed them off my chair I wanted to rest in, and yet allowed them to sit on my lap as a suitable substitute. But there was never a moment when I could sit
quietly without one of the cats soon appearing to beg some share of my space.
As they passed away, or were
smashed on the road by speeding passing vehicles, I vowed not to replace them.
Eventually they all were gone and I was alone. And then the black cat appeared,
hungry, sitting pleadingly outside of my cabin door. I fed him and he was
grateful. We were not friends—
so—but we continued to exist in some relationship of need, though never would I
permit him to enter the cabin. But I purchased the cans of food and maintained
And then yesterday morning I walked
to the cabin in the early morning hour and sitting next to the black cat was a
little white kitten. My black cat had adopted a child and brought his charge to the
source of all sustenance. Ah, yes, the little cat was scruffy, disheveled,
motherless, and hungry, and I fed it, but I suddenly had visions of my black cat roaming the
neighborhood looking for homeless strays and bringing them home. I suddenly had visions of
a long row of dishes outside my cabin door, and I suddenly had visions of my cabins shelves filled
with cat food and me busy keeping the bowls filled. I imagined that somewhere in town a sign existed (I had first written ‘a sigh existed’) that advertised my cabin as a welcoming soup kitchen and
invited all of the stray cats to make their way there.
What had begun as a singular and
hopefully isolated feeding with a single cat turned into a regular commitment.
And now I find myself obliged to two needy individuals, and at one of them for
the time being has opened my doors to the need of another. And I wonder: when does the
ethical commitment I had once accepted in a limited basis stop exponentially growing? Or it is that once the gates open there is no closing of them.
For now, I return home to one grown
black cat and one fragile white kitten both of whom expect my attention and
care. And I will peer tentatively out of the windows fearful of discovering additional
visitors to the open shelter.