The Cat Next Door (or Living With Michael Part 4)

After working for a few hours in my home office, I decided I needed a glass of water. I opened the door and at my feet stood an orange, gray, and white cat, his tail waving wildly. Michael and I don’t own a cat.


Michael loves all animals, and on our evening walks spots cats long before I do. “Shhhh,” he says to me, stopping me mid-sentence. “What?” I ask. He doesn’t speak. He just points. To the front stoop of someone’s house. Or under a bush. We slowly approach, and at the right moment Michael squats down and puts his hand out. In his best baby-talk voice, He tries to coax the furry creature over to us. It’s a good day when one of them gives in.

With a man who behaves like this, you’d think we’d get a cat. But we’ve determined our travel schedule is not conducive to harboring animals.

So Michael was delighted when he looked out our kitchen window one day to see a cat perched on our deck railing. He opened the door slowly, but the cat quickly jumped off and ran away.

While I was out of town one week, Michael worked on his relationship with that cat. He would leave the back door open, and the cat couldn’t resist. She peeked her head in, curious. Eventually she took a few steps in. And when she realized this was friendly territory, she decided it would be a nice place to visit sometimes. Michael also bought treats for her, so I’m sure that helped.

Now when Michael goes out to grill or check on the garden, I’ll sometimes here his baby-talk voice and know he’s probably talking to the cat, who, in addition to our deck railing, also likes our patio chairs. If we leave the door open, she comes in and out at her leisure, once even making herself comfortable on the floor of my office.

A couple weeks ago I groggily opened my eyes to see Michael playing with the cat on our bed. I had no idea what time it was, but knew something was off. I told Michael to get out so I could sleep.

Once I got up, I asked Michael, “Did you have that cat in our bed this morning?”

“Yeeees,” he said with a smile.


“Didn’t you hear her?”

“What do you mean–hear her?” The only time the cat makes a peep is if we’ve closed her in the house and she wants to leave.

“She was meowing at our window this morning.”

“What window?”

“The one on your side of the bed. I didn’t want her to wake you up, so I went out to get her.” And bring her into our room to wake me up? I wondered.

I told my mother about our part-time pet. “Cats like to have back-up,” she explained. “They want to be sure they’re going to get fed and taken care of.” By that time, Michael and I had learned that the cat belonged to the neighbor behind us–a single guy who lives alone.

So now it’s not unusual for me to open a door and find a cat we don’t own roaming around. Whatever her reasons–security, treats, attention–lucky for her, she landed Michael as a neighbor.



Living with Michael — Part 3

“Where’d you get the flowers?” Michael asked, noting the vase on the kitchen island.

“I bought them for myself.”

“Aw. It’s too bad you don’t have a boyfriend who buys you flowers.”

“Eh — he does a lot of other wonderful things, so I don’t mind,” I said with a smile.

In the past few weeks, I’ve come home to: IMG_4388

  • Homemade bread, still warm from the oven.
  • A man singing, “Our Love is Here to Stay.”
  • My laundry not only washed and dried, but folded. And the things that I don’t put in the dryer? Dutifully placed on hangers and hanging from the shower rod.
  • A homemade garden bed, filled with all the proper rocks and soil. The next day? Tomatoes and peppers planted. The next week? Trellises built.

So yes, random flowers are nice sometimes. But I’d take Michael’s other qualities over those any day.

Living With Michael — Part 2

“Have you talked to your mother lately?” I asked Michael this morning.

“I called her yesterday.”

“And did you talk to her?”

“No, she wasn’t home.”

“Did you leave a message?”

“Oh my God!” Michael said. “Someone please help me.”

“If you’d just give me a detailed answer the first time, I wouldn’t have to ask you any more questions,” I explained. “Like you could have just said, ‘I called my mother yesterday and she wasn’t home, so I left a message.'”

“Why does it matter if I left a message?” he asked.

“Because I want to know if she gets to hear your voice when she comes home, or if she’ll just have no idea that you called. I’m naturally curious.”

“A pain-in-the-ass. That’s what you naturally are,” he said with a smile.