Wednesday, December 14, 2011


A feral cat lived across the alley from my apartment. I called her Swirls because the golden part of her fur curled into patterns like the inside of a shell. She'd sun herself on the roof and watch a world that hadn't done her any favors.
I flattered myself that just as I knew Swirls’ routines, she knew mine. When the sun lights up my roof, he comes out to his balcony with his coffee, she’d think.
At five she'd cross the alley to the apartment of the person who fed her. At ten past five, she'd re-cross the alley to curl up alone in the dark.
Alone -- but that’s me projecting one of my human frailties on her.
Solitude was no enemy to Swirls.
She had another enemy, though she had no way of knowing.
Apparently her transgressions became too much for someone in the apartment building.
What were these transgressions?
Her food attracted raccoons. 
She left paw prints on cars in the carport.
Freshly washed cars.
And for that, someone decided to poison Swirls’ food.
Her death was slow, I’m told.
The person who feeds her found her in the alley.
She lasted the car ride to the vet’s.
Nothing will happen, of course.
Pets are property. Which makes Swirls something less than property.
She was born in the alley, the only survivor of a litter.
She dodged the cars, outsmarted the coyotes.
We feared the coyotes would get her eventually.
But they were merely predators.
The driver who didn’t want smudges on his car, the building manager who wanted to please his tenant, Swirls never had a chance against that.