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Fred, A Life

April 22, 2009

 We first saw the cat, later known as Fred, when he was just a kitten. He was in the little jungle of a backyard of the house next to ours. He was with two other kittens, who we assumed were his siblings. There was Black-And-White, Gray-And-White, and Red, later known as Fred. We don’t know what happen to Gray-And-White, we lost track of him. And Black-And-White turned into a big Tom who took care of himself.  But Red, we saw a little more of him. He ate the food we left for him on the cinder block wall in our backyard, and then he would disappear. He would reappear  a few days later, maybe with a friend in tow, like this little kitten.

The red headed stranger and friend

The red headed stranger and friend


It is clear from this photo (the first known photo of Fred) and we realized it even then, that The Red was no ordinary alley cat. I’ve never heard of such benevolent behavior in a stray, dare I say feral, creature, who must have had to struggle daily for it’s own survival. There was no question but that Fred, or Red as we knew him then, was operating on a whole other level from his fellow homeless felines.  We took such a good liking to him, he just seemed liked a very special creature. So, he would come and go, maybe alone or maybe with a friend, and eat the food we set out, and in the beginning  that was the extent of our relationship.  Any attempt at physical contact was scorned. There was a longing on our part to get to know him better, but it was going to have to be on his terms.

That was not the case with one friend that Red brought by.  A little kitten who ended up living in our backyard, behind an old piece of discarded furniture. We called him Mechu, short for meet you out back.  He was kind of a goofy guy, and it’s a good thing that Red showed him where he could get a meal and some shelter.

Mechu- big and fat

Mechu- big and fat

We eventually adopted Mechu  and he grew quite big and healthy.  The same could not be said for Red Fred. He continued his life on the street, coming and going from the backyard and one day getting to the point were he was ready for some physical contact. We’ll never forget the first time little Red headed Freddy let us pet him. Although I remember that I was the first to do so and my husband remembers that he was the first to do so. Either way a bond had been formed. He had accepted our affection and given his in return. I thought at this point that we should get Red and make a house cat out of him.  Which really means turning him into a eunuch, but the idea did not sit well with me. Besides we had just got Mechu and we already had several other cats and two dogs. As long as he was still turning up in the backyard for love and cat food everything was fine, right.

Well soon the winter came and Red stopped coming. I told myself that he was OK. That someone else was feeding him, or maybe had even taken him in. I told myself I would see him again soon and that we would take him in then. And I told myself that for many weeks that turned into months. And still we saw nothing of Red.

I clearly remember driving to work one bitter winter day, with snow on the ground, feeling that Red was gone and we wouldn’t see him again and scolding myself for not taking him in and giving him a safe life.  Those winter days passed slowly. No visitors came to the backyard, we didn’t even go back there ourselves, it was just a tiny patch of cement covered in dirty snow. And there was no Freddy ever reddy to bring any joy to it.

to be continued…

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