There were a lot more stray cats in Greenpoint last year.
A bunch of them lived in the parking lot near Mark's apartment. There was a small one I always noticed, white with grey spots. He didn’t look so good – whiskers at different lengths, coat a little tattered. He got through the winter, but I haven’t seen him in the last few months.
This year, a young grey cat lives among the garbage cans a couple doors from Mark. Someone has been feeding him besides me. There are empty cans here and there, and we take turns filling plastic take out containers with water.
Grey and I have an understanding. If we see each other, he waits, while I fetch a can of food from the apartment or the corner bodega. I say ‘hello’ a couple times, dump the wet food on the ground, and leave him alone. He meows at me repeatedly, and I have the feeling he knows who I am.
This morning, I sat out on the stoop with Grey. I was worried about the discharge coming from his eyes and the rain in the forecast. Last week, we had a big storm that tossed my petunias around (sounds like a euphemism, but isn’t!!) I was home, worrying about Grey. It was cold outside and there were high winds all night. I prayed to the Cat God for divine intervention.
So this afternoon, I walked down to the 99 cent store and bought a styrofoam cooler. I’d read that you can make a shelter with one, and that’s what I did – turned it upside down, cut a big entrance hole and smaller holes on the sides for air and visibility.
Grey wasn’t in sight, but I went to the basement level of the building where I usually see him. There was another cat house under the stoop, left by his other keeper, a cardboard box that’s sagging and badly stained. I set the new, very white, waterproof house next door with a board on top, to keep it from flying away.
There’s no way I'll know if Grey uses the new house, unless I venture down those steps again. I’ve read about trapping feral cats, and can only dream of catching Grey before winter. Before then, of course, he and I will have to talk.