18 May 2012


And so now every morning when I come out here to Walden, the black wait awaits me and its breakfast. The weather is now warm enough that it can sleep atop the table I had placed outside my door to protect the food bowls I had set out from inclement winter and early Spring weather. I think it sleeps well here, though I have noted the presence of a skunk searching out the scraps of food I leave for the cat. As I approach the cabin door the black cat jumps off of the table and, still injured, limps to the corner of the cabin behind the burning bush where it sits down wrapping its tail about its legs. The cat watches expectantly as I set my coffee cup on the shelf outside the entrance, open the door and reach over to grab my mug. I enter the cabin, gather the cat’s morning repast and then return to serve breakfast. The black cat waits patiently by the corner behind the bush. I push open the door carrying  a small container of soft rather foul smelling animal pieces in a assumed sauce and a bag of hard food. The cat watches carefully and talks to me as I work. I assume that it somehow is greeting me, whatever that means in a relationship between a feral cat and a housebroken human. I note a tick growing on its ear fat feasting on the black cat’s red blood. I would pull it off but, of course, the cat will not permit any greater familiarity much less a real touch. I slowly and carefully stoop to the ground, and pull the food bowls towards me. I cut the top off the packet of soft food with scissors I have stored and placed on a shelf by the door for just these occasions, and squeezing from the bottom of the container I empty the mix into the bowl.  The black cat watches intently, meowing steadily. Then, I reach into the bag of hard food and place a handful of it into the other bowl. I stand up, leave the emptied packet on the table for later removal, and head back inside. Within seconds, the cat has moved to the bowls for its breakfast. This morning it has moved into the woods behind the cabin for its morning ablutions; sometimes it simply climbs back atop the table for its bath.
It is a tentative relationship between the cat and I, neither friendship nor enmity. I purchase its food and responsibly daily feed it. The cat has become used to my presence though it still will not come within arm’s length. And though it will limp away when I exit the door, it customarily does not go far; and when I am far enough removed, the cat returns to its perch atop the table or to the soft bed I have place beside it. Seneca writes that wild animals run from the dangers they see and then, once they have escaped, worry no more. He assumes here they have little memory and live wholly in the present. I guess that to some extent I am yet a danger to the black cat for though I feed it daily it still runs at my approach. But it does not run so far. And it awaits my arrival and greets me. It has memory and lives not wholly in the present, but in the present perhaps it experiences some contentment. I am glad to be part of it. But I do remember when it was not crippled, and I grieve for its loss of freedom.


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