My wife and I have an assortment of kitties who call our place home. All of them started off as feral adult cats or kittens. We have them in numerous varieties: large and petite, male and female, friendly and aloof, orange, charcoal, and light yellow. Occasionally, we even see a gray-and-white male cat that comes by for a quick bite. But I was not prepared for the long-nosed "cat" that started eating alongside our other cats one evening.
A couple of years ago, I was going through my normal evening routine. I’d place food in each of the bowls we keep inside our garage. After all of the food bowls were full and the cats were eating, I would also change their water. After putting the food and water in the garage, I’d wait about 30 minutes and then walk out to the driveway and make sure each cat was present. Then I’d walk back into the house, satisfied that all was well.
The light to the garage would remain on until around 10 p.m., when we’d normally go to bed. Before heading upstairs, I’d open the door to the garage, check to see who was sleeping in the cat beds in the garage, and tell whoever was there to be safe and that we’d see them in the morning.
This routine changed little from night to night. If I was late putting their food and water out, they’d give me the cold shoulder for a while until their bellies were full. Then, they’d look at me as if to say, "Don’t let it happen again," and wander off to groom themselves.
On one particular night, as I went to the driveway to check on the cats, I noticed a new addition. The new cat was a little off in the distance but was intermingled with the others. My existing kitty family was very accepting of the new cat, though each one looked at her very puzzled. I didn’t have my glasses on, so I slowly moved a little closer to gain a better vantage point. As I approached, the new cat sat perfectly still. The new cat was black, gray, and white, with the white surrounding a majority of her face. I kneeled down and inched forward to see if she was friendly. Once again, the cat didn’t budge.
As I squinted, I noticed that the new cat had an unusually long face and nose. The new cat also seemed to have lost all the fur on her tail. Squinting even further, I figured out why my cats had puzzled looks on their faces. The new addition was not a cat at all. Instead, it was a lovely opossum.
I’d assumed that I had frightened the opossum away for good. I thought she’d never return to my kitty colony again. I was mistaken! The next night I went through my usual routine and once again, the same opossum joined the kitty crowd. This time she entered the garage, selected a bowl and began to munch and crunch the food alongside the others. When she was finished, she promptly left and walked along the fence back to her home in the woods. She had joined the group, and they didn’t mind at all! They shared their food with her and even allowed her to hang out in the potted plants.
This has now become an annual event, with the same opossum appearing in the fall when the weather gets a little chilly and then staying until late spring. The opossum goes away on a little summer vacation and then comes back to join our cat colony upon her return. We named her Shadow, because she always appears in the evening when the light casts a shadow on the driveway.
The lesson that I’ve learned from my very tolerant cats? The more the merrier, even if it’s slightly different than what you’re used to.