About fifteen to seventeen years ago, we're not too clear on it, a yellow and white tiger kitten came to my front porch and explained to me that he was starving. I knew that was what he was saying because I speak cat, at least somewhat, learned in my childhood from Pitsy Paintsy, Puff, and Cleopatra. I was cooking roast beef, the smell wafting outside the house, driving the homeless kitten to desperate measures.
I poured some milk in a jar lid, added a few pieces of bread, and placed it on the porch, then went back into the house to respect his fear of humans, and watched out the window as he gobbled it up. He returned later in the day accompanied by another kitten who looked very much like him, except she had longer fur, with a white patch at her throat and four white feet. We gave them both some roast beef.
The next day, yet another one arrived with his siblings, a gorgeous long haired black and white, big beautiful eyed kitten. We thought surely this was all of them when their calico mother appeared soon afterward. The kittens were wild and would let no one near them. The mother was a bit of a whiner and wanted to come into the house, which, it being summer and not being cat in the house people, we declined.
We'd put food out for them on the stones along one side of the big flower garden, and, from the deck, we watched them eat and play. After a few days of this, we saw a dark blur move among the flowers. It was the scarediest, most wary, most wild, smallest one of the litter.
Over time, with gentle stealth we made friends with all of the kittys. They lived outside that first winter in a dogloo insulated with cardboard and crumpled newspapers. They'd wrestle and play in it, bouncing off the cardboard inner walls making thumping sounds one could hear inside the house.
One of my sons and his girlfriend were photography students at a local college at the time. They decided all the kittens should be named after famous photographers. The black and white one became Ansel, after Ansel Adams. My first visitor became Edward, after Edward Steichen. His look alike sister was named Margaret, after Margaret Bourke White. And the smallest one became Freya Diana, after both Diane Arbus and the goddesses Freya and Diana, because she was a great hunter. The mother cat was just The Mama Cat.
The Mama Cat had to be euthanized that first summer. The vet said she had probably been abandoned pregnant with her first litter, and the babies born in the wild area near our house. The kittens were therefore feral cats, and though we were able to tame them all, FD remained a wild cat at her core.
All except FD met various fates. Margaret was killed by a car only a few months after she adopted us. Edward was also, a few years later. Ansel, a grown cat by then, would go visiting, we knew not where, disappearing on his daily rounds into the field and woods behind the house, arriving back home a few days later smelling of tuna fish. We suspected he was visiting at an apartment complex nearby. Eventually, his visits lasted longer, and then he did not come home at all. We hope he persuaded the tuna fish provider that he really did not have a home, and is lounging prettily on a sofa somewhere.
Only Freya Diana remains. She is a survivor, not as smart as Edward, who I loved, and whose thinking process I understood. He was curious, kind, and a beautiful person. But, he grew overconfident and ventured to cross the street rather than take his usual underground route through the culvert. Ansel was dumb, but beautiful, sashaying as he walked, and so lazy and tolerant you could drape him over your arm like a scarf and he'd not mind.
FD has an elegant understated beauty, she's almost a calico, but not quite. She's wary, and it takes a very, very long time before she trusts someone enough to let them near her. If she wants to be petted or stroked, she flops on the floor in front of one of the few humans she accepts, but usually she flops slightly out of arm's reach. Just being careful, that's all. If you come across her outdoors, though, you will not be able to get close enough to pet her at all. She may reply if you greet her, but in a manner that lets you know that she's working, so please don't bother her. She's at the office, and doesn't mix business with pleasure.
I've learned from FD that wild at heart should be respected, and one should never try to force a wild one to do what a wild one is not inclined to do. She got loose at the vet's once, and moved so fast you could not see her. She turns into a flying, biting, scratching wild creature when cornered for capture. I never do that, and advise all others not to do that either.
I've learned that survival skills protect one, and that being careful is always a good idea. Context is important, and some people behave differently at work than at home. I've learned that it's an honor to be the friend of someone who does not accept just anyone who comes along with a bit of gravy.
Miss Freya Diana is not always an easy creature to live with. I'd never get another house cat. Yes, she's now an indoor/outdoor cat, thanks to midwest winters and cats who come by to attack. I hate to deal with those passerby cats who like to leave their scent postcards on my front, back, and deck doors. But, we have a history together FD and the family, so, I think she's here as long as she chooses to be.