When our next-door neighbor dropped in rather late in the morning one day recently, we welcomed what we assumed to be her more or less semiannual visit. We invited her into our cozy little sun room for a chat.
As we sat down, we noticed in her hands a 12-ounce can of cat food and a pouch of the soft nubs which are also a favorite with many of those domestic creatures. When our guest mentioned that she and her husband and their younger son were about to travel northward a few days visit to colleges among which the lad might choose one to enter next fall, we were sure that the impending subject would be her two large Siamese cats, which would be alone during their absence.
Simple, but false.
To clarify the truth of the matter, I have to letter in geographical sequence the cat-lovers in this area. Call us A, with two cats. Next door, we have met B and her two Siamese. Close to her is C, a frequent traveler whose three cats we have often fed when she was away. Indeed, at this very time she was off to Canada for a week; but she had hired a former aide to serve them their meals. She had asked us to stop in and talk with the animals every day or two, but we silently brushed this aside because two of them are out of doors most of the time and the third, the veteran of the lot, has taken up his residence in the garret and seldom emerges. So in this case we can write off our responsibility to C.
But across the Duck River is D, with one cat, and the family for the moment not at home. After that comes E, about whom we know nothing.
At last the tangle begins to straighten out. E would come across the river to serve B's cats, but would have nothing to do with her neighbor, D. Therefore B had come to us to deliver a can, a pouch, and a request that we cross the river the other way and feed D's cat about midafternoon the following day. This we did. We even took a Polaroid picture of the cat enjoying canned salmon, wrote on the back the date and hour, and mailed it to the owners, whom we have never met.
That is how we become acquainted with some four-footed friends (and their two-footed slaves) whom we might never get to know otherwise. Add the love of animals to the Golden Rule, and you have a bond of double strength.