Leaving a Lovely Friend


I’ve got only two more weeks to spend in California, and am pensive about the move. I'm enjoying every minute with my grandson, son and daughter-in-law, and I’ve come to feel right at home on the Central Coast.

And then, there’s Oraios

She’s the cat who lives on the rural property where I’ve been staying. The property owners have dubbed her the Greek word for “lovely” – oh-RAY-ose, roll the ‘R.’

They tell me she is a feral cat, but they leave food out for her and when they’re busy or out of town, I do the honors.

Oraios and I have come to a kind of understanding. That is, she’s figured out I’m a softie and a reliable food source. And as a longtime cat lover, I’m curious enough about her to test this tenuous connection.

She sits outside the dining-room window. Sometimes, I join her there. She’s very chatty and I can sit within a foot or so, talking softly but never touching her – I’ve seen the scars from scratches on other folks who've tried.

In the evenings, I open the front door and she’ll step just barely inside to let me know she’s waiting for a snack. She scarfs it quickly, then cleans herself leisurely on the patio – and she’s gone. If I get home late, she's waiting in the shadows.

My landlord has grumbled, “You should just take her.” (They have a dog, chickens, lots of other responsibilities.) I’ve given it a lot of thought, but can’t figure out how to get a feral cat safely into a vehicle – let alone from one state to another for the chance at a more domesticated life.

Apparently, that’s a good call, according to the nonprofit Alley Cat Allies, which does a thorough job of explaining the important differences between stray and feral cats.

So, sadly, Oraios is one of the lovely friends I’ll soon be leaving behind.

I only hope the next renter is a soft touch, too.