Being a fellow who works from home, I got to know this black cat who had no problems catwalking up the driveway and checking out the garden in our backyard - just like the four-legged creatures who live there.
Before I got to know the cat, I assumed it was a territorial stray that was going to take control of the area and browbeat the backyard's rightful feline owner, Lucy, into submission. (Max was not that interested except to chase any interlopers away.) Often I would let Lucy go outside in the early morning light and wait for the inevitable cat fight that would make my heart drop and my feet run outside (with Max a healthy step in front of me) to shoo the cat with violent tendencies away. That day never came.
Lucy's litter box
Soon enough I realized this black cat was just looking for food and fun. So whenever I saw him I laid out some treats and watched from inside the house as he ate. I watched from my desk as he walked around the houses, up and down the street and back again. I watched from the living room couch as he walked past the bird feeder in the front yard - giving the birds that ate there a total ignoration. He was a sweet cat.
It was midnight this past Saturday and I was walking Max for a late night treat. On Bascom Avenue almost to the corner of Bailey, I stopped in my tracks when I saw this black cat lying on the sidewalk dead. It was most probable that he had been hit by a car and crawled off the street onto the sidewalk to die. I started crying uncontrollably. How silly I thought; I barely knew this cat. But the heart knows what it knows. I ran home, tears falling to the sidewalk, to ask George what we should do.
Ultimately George (my ever loving vacuum lover) went and got the cat and we took him to the 24 hour clinic in Campbell. They have a program where, for $44, they take dead animals, cremate them and bring the ashes to a potter's field for animals in Napa, CA. As the receptionist filled out the paperwork he asked me some questions.
What's the cat's name?
The cat didn't have a name, I said. He didn't belong to anyone.
Well, I need to put something here.
Can you put two words?
Whatever you want.
He typed Found Cat and moved on to the next field. After a couple of other questions, I asked HIM a question.
Can I change the cat's name?
Sure, he said.
Midnight. The cat's name was Midnight.
He typed Midnight and moved back down the form.
I'll miss Midnight on Bailey Avenue. I guess he belonged to me.
MARCH 19 UPDATE: Today I received a Certification of Country Burial from Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park in Napa, CA affirming that Midnight had been interred in a country setting. I didn't know I was going to receive this but I was really glad I did.