Fort Myers Florida Weekly

The reluctant cat lady



When you’re in your mid-30s and single, the last thing you want is a cat.

“But they’re so cute,” my friends say. “Look at this little guy.”

They send me photos of fluffy kittens, tiny creatures with round eyes and fuzzy tails.

“How about this one? Or this one?”

Each time, I tell them no.

“It’s a slippery slope,” I say, “from one cat to 12.”

I know men can sense my cat lady potential, and as long as I don’t have one of my own, I can honestly say, “Cats? No, I don’t have any cats,” when it comes up on a first date. Because, believe me, it always comes up.

The problem is that being in your mid-30s and single gets lonely. As Grace on the new TV series “Grace and Frankie” rightly put it: “We all want the same thing. Someone who’s glad to see us when we get home.”



A cat, I know, would do the trick.

Which is why I’ve worked out my own particular solution: I’ve started loving on the neighbors’ cats. I spend a lot of time crouched in my driveway trying to coax them over, and I’ve even given them their own names.

Earlier in the year, I had a good thing going with a beat-up old tom I inventively named Old Kitty. We got into a solid morning and evening routine in which I’d call to him and he’d mostly ignore me. Once, he even came into the house for a brief visit — although I realized later it was just to pee on my closet door.

You can imagine my heartbreak when I didn’t see Old Kitty for a few days and his owner told me he’d gone to live in Lehigh.

I thought I’d be alone forever. Until last week.

I noticed a new cat in the neighborhood, a longhaired white fluffy one I liked to call White Kitty. White Kitty cruised through my yard every evening, hunting lizards and taunting squirrels, on a schedule so regular that whenever I saw him I could tell you the time without looking at a clock. I tried intercepting him with my usual tactics, squatting in the grass, calling his name, but he pretended not to notice. Until I made pot roast.

That evening, I sat in my yard on the outdoor chair beneath my poinciana tree. When White Kitty passed, we did our usual me-calling, him-ignoring routine. Then he stopped. He must have smelled the pot roast on my plate. On delicate paws, he crept to the edge of my chair, sniffed and hopped up on my outdoor table. I gave him a piece of meat, which he gobbled up before jumping down and setting off across the yard again.

Something in our relationship shifted with that roast.

White Kitty comes by every evening now. He jumps in my lap, purring, and we spend a very pleasant few moments together.

Eventually, though, I put him down and send him on his way. After all, he’s not my cat. And I plan to keep it that way.

— Artis Henderson is the author of “Unremarried Widow” published by Simon and Schuster.

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