He’s been watching us since April, from his perch on the neighbor’s small balcony, from the other side of the fence surrounding our yard, from the driveway across the way. We’ve seen him chasing rodents, catching birds, and hunkering under the eaves to stay out of the rain. One bitterly cold morning last month, SJG saw him running across the street. It was 4:30 AM.
It’s been a now-and-again affair. Days and weeks have passed without a sighting, and then he’s back for several days in a row. By this summer, the neighborhood had all become aware of him, and emails flew back and forth about his vicious nature—chasing away ducks from backyard ponds, fighting with other cats, keeping birds away from feeders. But I always sensed a gentler side. Gracie next door—she’s eight years old—is in agreement. She gave him a name--Tiger Lily--thinking he was a girl.
Once, this summer, I approached very slowly, cooing in low tones, and he let me pet his smooth white fur. Another afternoon on a damp fall day, I saw him crouching under a low bush in the back garden. I put an entire can of tuna on a plate on the ground a few paces from him, retreated, and watched him gobble up the treat. But I hadn’t seen him since I left for Paris at the end of September. SJG wakes up in the night worrying about him. We leave the side door of our garage open, in case he comes our way again.
The night before Thanksgiving, I dreamt that I had him in my arms, while SJG kept our brown poodle Buddy at a safe distance. And then, the day after Thanksgiving, Buddy began a particular kind of insistent barking that usually means there’s a squirrel on the window box at the front of the house. SJG looked out the window, and there was Tiger Lily, meowing from the porch steps next door.
Tuna is a seductive lure for felines. I offered him a little container of it, talked to him in low tones, and after he’d eaten it all, gently lifted him up and into the crate SJG had waiting. He’s been to the Humane Society for a physical and other tests to make sure he’s healthy, and he’s now sound asleep in my study on the thick fleece shawl my mother gave me for Christmas years ago. We’re calling him Melchizedek, or Meli for short, after the biblical king “without father, without mother, without descent.” He came to us out of nowhere, lodged in our dreams, and will hopefully become part of our family.