My first floor Tucson apartment was infested with stray cats. At night I heard them scratching, screaming, fucking beneath the basement floorboards. They made stray cat nests next to the heaters and swaddled cat-babies in the alleys. The ghetto-living was punctuated by a shattered window next to my bed, which looked starkly into a dusty alley lined with desert weeds.
One morning, I awoke to a patch of sun and something else warming my feet. It was furry. When I moved, it moved. Within seconds, I felt the slow crawl of hunting paws first along my legs, the my belly and slowly onto my chest. Before I could wrestle with nature’s invasion, the stray cat put its face in mine and gave a long, almost grateful, “Meeeooooooooow.” After breathing her cat morning breath in my face, she pounced towards the window and made an escape before I had time to offer a cup of coffee.
Throughout that summer, the cat would return occasionally and she was, sweet for a stray, prowling for bowls of milk, or just a warm nights rest. Knowing the elements, I didn’t begrudge her.