This is Lucy (a/k/a Lucy Long Tail). She used to live on the other side of my fence in a Buddhist Temple feral cat colony. Her mother hid her and her littermates under my air conditioner slab to keep them safe from a storm when they were tiny kittens. Apparently, she liked my little garden, because she kept coming back. Were it not for my knowledge of her history, and the missing tip on one ear, I would never have taken her for a feral.
The little cat grew fond of hunting in my bird feeders. She’d hide beneath the Plumbago bush and stalk them. Whenever she heard me flip the lock on the back door, she’d shoot out from beneath the bush where she lie in wait, and demand pets. The day she caught a sparrow in front of me and hopped the fence with it squawking in her mouth was the day I started trying to find her a home. Meanwhile, I began bringing her inside when I was home and could supervise her interactions with the other cats. She liked them. They weren’t as thrilled about her.
Eventually I found the little cat a home in Houston. Just days after the Memorial Day floods of 2015, I put Lucy (who had not yet been named) in a carrier and drove her from Austin to Houston. She was still a kitten, and hadn’t grown into her tail, which was quite long in comparison to the rest of her. When I got to her new home and brought her inside, I learned the residents of the house were indoor smokers. I knew I couldn’t leave her in that environment, so I popped her back into the carrier and took her to my mother’s house. I had planned to stay the weekend as we were holding an estate sale in preparation for putting my mother’s home on the market. (She was declining from Alzheimer’s and had moved into assisted living.)
Since I hadn’t planned to have the company of a cat for the weekend, I had to buy supplies for her: litter box, litter, food, bowls, treats, and toys. I installed her in my childhood bedroom, the only room in the house that was off limits during the sale. She was a very good cat: Relaxed, playful, cuddly, and terribly cute. In fact, she was a bit of a comedienne. As we cuddled together on the very first night in my childhood bedroom, I decided to call her Lucy.
By the time we made it back to Austin at the end of weekend, I knew I wouldn’t try to find her another home. We’d gone on a weekend road trip and slept together in my childhood bedroom. I’d named her. What else was I to do? Lucy had become Cat Number Four.