Sean comes from Europe, so he scoffs any time I describe an early 20th century building as “old.” History oozes from every corner in Europe, and Sean is always quick to remind me that Newgrange – the world’s oldest freestanding sculpture – can be found right here in Ireland. Even Sean’s family’s house was built over a hundred years ago. Sean’s bedroom is compact and narrow, with concrete walls and glass-paneled double doors. There is a small, square backyard bordered by a wooden shed and bissected by a clothes line. Fat snails, large slugs, and green frogs peek through the strawberry bushes bordering the yard. This backyard, over the past year, has become home to a number of stray cats.
At first, says Sean, there was only one. She was black, orange, and white. Then came another one. Soon, there was a large litter of tiny, blind kittens pawing through the grass. The kittens grew into long, sleek teenage cats. By the spring, there was a small population of cats all right there in the back. My heart fluttered; a yard full of cats sounded like paradise to me. Cat paradise – where good cat ladies like me go to die.
“You must be joking,” said Sean. “Those cats are nothing but a bloody nuisance.”
“They fight, they cry, they kill the birds out back.”
“Well, if you don’t feed them.”
“Feed them! Oh, Jaysus. That’s the last thing we want to do. Look; just last week, one of those bloody things killed a pigeon and left it on the stoop, all torn up and bloody. There were bits of bones sticking out. We didn’t have chicken for over a week.”
I had to admit, that was a rather grim picture – one that was thankfully obliterated when Sean told me that sometimes, the cats sneak into the kitchen via the crack in the window. My head exploded; a cat in the kitchen! Immediately, I imagined padding down to the kitchen in the morning only to find a white-booted puss sitting upright at attention on the tiles, its head cocked and its green eyes wide and inviting.
“You must be joking!” cried Sean. “Are you even listening to me? I came in one day to find one of those lunatic cats on the kitchen counter, eating the apple pie. Into the rubbish straightaway and so much for a sweet after dinner! Bloody nuisances. Don’t you go feeding those things now. I mean it. Don’t you go encouraging them to keep coming round or they’ll never leave!”
He was wasting his breath, as I was long gone to Cat Paradise.
Well, well, hello there, Mr. Cat. What a nice surprise. And just what are you doing in here with your nice black stripes and snappy little white boots?
A perfect start to what I’m sure would be a perfect day.