Every morning I feed my cat. I talk softly to her while filling her bowl and then I set it down in front of her while she sits quietly on her round red rug. I feed her after we have risen from bed and walked together the dozen or so steps into the kitchen, where I start brewing my second cup of coffee because the first one was consumed while still in bed, delivered by my boyfriend a few minutes after my 6am alarm sounds. It’s my absolute favorite time of day.
I can’t recall a morning since I’ve had my cat that I didn’t wake up to her laying right next to me, her body under the covers usually stretched out the length of my left side, her head peaking out from the covers resting between my neck and shoulder. When the alarm sounds, I reach with my right arm to my bedside table and turn it off. She doesn’t move. We snuggle until the coffee arrives and then we just stay there for a little bit longer.
Every morning I feed another cat. I arrive at work, head to the kitchen to put my lunch away and fill my water bottle, walk to my office, turn on the lights and my computer and then fill a plastic bag with two heaping scoops of kibble from the big bag that sits behind my desk. I walk out of my office, up some steps to the crush pad, across the ramp where the trucks deliver grapes during harvest, and then down some other steps where a little house sits for the feral cats. They don’t really use the house, but it’s there if they need shelter and it’s in that house where I dump the food into a bowl made from the bottom of a large plastic Folgers coffee container.
As soon as I start down those steps I softly call, “Baby,” or “Momma,” or sometimes “Babymomma.” She’s not always there and I worry if I don’t see her for more than a couple days, but most of the time she comes running through the bushes and waits on the concrete ledge for me to put the food in the bowl and walk away. Then she eats. The other ferals stay out of sight until I’m gone. She has come to trust certain people.
These two cats are the mirror image of each other with eyes of gold and a splash of caramel from chin to chest. They share the same person, yet they no longer know each other. One is safe behind four walls, the other is in a constant state of alert. One loves scratches behind the ears and the other has never been touched by a human. But in their vastly different worlds, I think they are both happy. I know the one that lives with me is happy, and I sometimes spot the other with her guard down. Sometimes she is meandering through the vineyard and sometimes she is asleep in a sunny spot. I give them both updates on the other. “Your baby girl is doing fine,” I’ll say while I’m pouring kibble into the makeshift bowl, and then when I get home at night I say to the baby girl, “I saw your momma today.”