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Our Peeping Tom

I started feeding him about six months ago.

He sat outside the sliding doors of my kitchen window peering in as I shuffled half asleep through my early morning routine – turn on Keurig, take vitamins, feed Buzz, my old cat swirling between my legs, make the kids’ lunches.

It was Buzz who alerted me to his presence by howling and hissing at the glass screen loudly. I looked and saw him there, staring back unaffected, his coat scraggly but his stance proud. Immediately I noticed that he resembled a cat I once had many years before who had died.

“Well, hello Jeffy,” I said to the stray, making the mistake of naming him out loud. I may as well have bought him a collar. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“I’ve got to feed him,” I apologized to my own feisty feline, stroking her behind the ears and looking her in the face. “But don’t worry, you’re in here and he’s out there.”

I slid open the door and Jeffy instinctually peddled back a few paces. I placed a paper bowl filled with food down, introduced myself, then headed back inside. When the sliding door closed, Jeffy padded back and ate. The next morning, he greeted us again, and the next, and the next. He became a frequent guest at dinner as well.

Our arrangement continued through Fall with my kids now well aware of the new extended member of our family. “Jeffy’s here!” They’d cry excitedly and race to find me. “He looks hungry,” My middle son worried and I’d roll my eyes. We were feeding him twice a day. And not the cheap crap either.

Winter and colder weather arrived. It was freezing and I hunkered down, barely going out except when necessary. I couldn’t imagine Jeffy surviving snow and temperatures that seemed to never stop falling. Inch after inch, foot after foot piled up.

Many days, my kids and I stared through the glass doors peering out in the frosty night wondering if Jeffy would make it. At times, the snow was so high he was almost just a head. Other days he carefully careened the mountains of crunchy ice to reach us. Every time he did we cheered and I peppered his dish with fresh chicken or juice from the tuna can. It seemed so unlikely he’d survive the single digit temps and crippling wind, but storm after storm, we’d spy those little foot (and body) imprints in the snow. Somehow against all odds he’d make it to our door.

This last storm took us all by surprise. It came hard and fast. The two feet of snow already in my yard quickly turned to three. For three days, we didn’t see him and feared the worst, but then the sun came out strong and my town began to melt. People walked the streets in open coats and no coats. Everyone was smiling, stretching out and thawing after the long winter freeze. Within a day, Winter had retreated and Spring had unofficially arrived.

And there in my vision stood Jeff, his fur weathered and matted but his posture still strong and proud.

He had made it through.

And now he would feast.

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About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

21 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on Finding Myself Through Writing and commented:
    Blackie is our neighborhood cat. Although a bit scruffy, he roams from door to door making himself comfortable for meals and bedding. I don’t know what his schedule is, but sometimes he picks our house. There is always food and water waiting. Now I see I’m not the only one with a soft heart. Glad our winters aren’t as harsh as yours! ~Elle

  2. It really is over as soon as you name them, isn’t it?

  3. We have a bunny rabbit that hangs out around our house and I see him in the driveway every couple days either when I’m leaving the house for work or when I’m coming home. If we don’t see him for a few days in a row we get worried that something happened to him, and it’s been like that since we moved in.

  4. I love the name you picked! Jeffy is a good one (my hubs and therapist). You really are a saint!

  5. Were you ever tempted to make him into a house cat?

    • not really, first because my cat is 18 and couldn’t handle it and second because i don’t think he wants to. every time i come out – and it’s been months – he still backs away. he’s a solid stray. it would take a lot to get his trust.

  6. We had a stray we fed and named Gathy (a Portlandia reference) who hung around for a year or so. It’s a tough life out there as a stray. Sadly one day he just stopped coming. The foolish part of me hopes he was adopted into someone’s home, but the realist in me knows that probably wasn’t the case. At least he had food and shelter (we built a little home under our deck) for a time. Glad to hear there are so many others out there willing to open their hearts to our furry friends.

  7. I fed the same cat last year, actually bought bowls and a bed. I called him pretzel after my childhood cat Ketzel Yiddish for cat. Ketzel lived in the garage. My problem started whenhe started sleeping on my wicker couch I tried covering it, getting a bed then it was him or me because I couldn’t go on the couches anymore. my allergies. I’m glad another loving family adopted him.:)

    Sent from my iPad


  8. I always wonder how they make it through. We had Mittens for two years (I didn’t feed him, a neighbor did, but he hung out in our yard) and I haven’t seen him in almost a year. Poor Mittens. Yay for Jeffy!!

  9. I love to see people who care for neighborhood feral cats. It restores my belief that our species is essentially kind. Our stray cat is Spidey. Our grandson named him. And like yours, he eats better than the house furry babies.

  10. Hello Alisa,

    Hope all is well with you. I’m not sure whether or not you the same Alisa Schindler who wrote the wonderful article “5 thinks my kids hate and I just can’t understand why?” I received it as a bonus from one of the groups that usually sends short, inspirational stories around the world. It touched my heart in a very positive way.

    All the best,

    • It is me! And thank you! I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. 🙂

      • Most of children are in dental distress indeed and the five tips are parts of the basics of life. We are always encourage our 7-year-old daughter not to miss any one of them, especially reading and brushing her teeth on a daily basis because they are the ones she hates the most. Educating them with such small things is the most important thing in rearing children.

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