When I first moved here to Green Heron Pond, I had two cats, Bobby and Reggie. Both were rescue animals with Reggie actually coming from a feral cat colony outside the high school where I taught at the time. It was a hot August day (105 degrees hot), the day before school was to start and a colleague’s daughter found the tiny golden fur ball wandering along the hot asphalt road behind the school…lost, alone and too warm. We brought him into the building, found a box, a towel, a small dish for water and got him settled a bit.
He was so tiny I could hold him in the palm of my hand; he was mostly quiet and slept throughout the day. When I was ready to leave late that afternoon I realized everyone else was gone and I was left with the small feral kitten… I dreaded taking him home as I had a big Tom cat and I wasn’t sure a tiny male cat would be safe around the adult cat.
Reggie would survive, in fact thrive and has ended up weighing 16 plus lbs for most of his adult life. He became a member of our household… my big cat being very tolerant and was named for “Golden Reggie” from Joni Mitchell’s Song for Sharon. This week our Golden Reggie turned 15 years old; this onetime small, long tailed and fuzzy feral- where lifespan is usually less than 2 years- all a distant memory except in a couple of photos I have kept.
Reggie has blossomed into old age here at the pond. He goes out early each morning and evening to survey his kingdom from the deck, taking an occasional stroll by the garden to gnaw on greenery or lunge half-heartedly at ducks feeding on the lawn. (I have never known Reggie to kill anything but once we did find Reggie and Bobby sharing a baby rabbit- which I am sure Bobby hunted down, and Dan chased and retrieved the rabbit’s foot out of Reggie’s mouth…my husband having had pet rabbits during his childhood.)
The ducks pay little attention usually and the small songbirds ignore Reggie, except for the wrens who get quite close to scold him adamantly. Or if there is a baby blackbird or robin, you can hear some warnings being given to and about Reggie, otherwise the birds all seem to know he is there to lounge, rest and nothing more.
Sometimes he joins us out on the dock at dusk watching and listening to the robins and cardinals finding a last worm or sunflower seed before they say their “Good Nights”. As those last birds of the evening find cover, bats begin to flutter over the water and over us, hopefully consuming thousands of mosquitoes and hopefully never tangling in my hair. Once in a great while there will be the silhouette of an owl- silent in flight over the trees that surround the water or a faint “Quark” sounding from a Black Crested Night Heron searching for a late dinner. Dan, Reggie and I listen in the cooling dark to the night sounds of crickets, locust’ and a Bull frog chorus. We watch the moon’s slow trek across the sky- reflected in the pond’s still black water. It is one of my favorite times, calm, peaceful, perfect.
Reggie, regrettably it has not been that way for some members of your family order recently. International headlines read of the big cat taken down in a so-called trophy hunt, not a hunt for food or survival but a trophy. And more locally a tiny kitten flung at a wall- the event recorded on social media- a former lover’s payback- most likely. Sadly I cannot change any of it, nor understand the why… but I can share a small success, the hopefulness of a possibly unremarked, insignificant story of one small feral cat… my headline reads “Reggie, Feral Cat Rescue, 15 Years Old!”.