This might be something best told at the end of the month, Halloween, but I had a visitor in the wee hours of this morning. He used to come by several times a year, less and less often as the years go by, but he always comes on the first cold, wet night of every fall. When no cat wants to be outside and looks for a warm place to sleep.

It wasn’t long after I’d gone to bed, I wasn’t quite asleep yet. Frankie, my tabby, abruptly jumped off the bed and retreated to the back of the closet. When Shadow was still alive she didn’t care for this visitor either. I felt the light bump of a cat leaping onto the bed. And the padding of its feet as it chose its spot. And then there was that kneading/nursing thing they do, right next to my legs (I sleep on my side), before I felt him lay down against them and purring heavily. I could almost hear it. Strange thing this year, I could feel it more on my left leg, the side affected by my stroke last year.

I didn’t try to reach for him or turn on the light. He always leaves when I do. I know which cat this is.

I’d been confused by his first visits, this strange cat in the night, when he started dropping in regularly one winter. It was always the cold nights when it was wet or snowy. And my visitor would always shy away easily so I didn’t know then who he was.

It was that spring when I found him.

Some night during the winter we figure he’d been hit by a car. He’d been bleeding badly. Why he came into our garage cat door instead of his own home we don’t know. Perhaps he knew he wouldn’t make it and simply didn’t want to die cold. If he’d come further in the house, we’d have taken care of him, I’m sure, but he was too shy.

He died in our garage, next to the furnace. The hot, dry air had mummified his body. He’d been such a pretty cat. I buried him in our yard and shed a few tears for him.

I’ve learned, when he visits not to try to reach for him or look. He won’t be there. He’s still shy, but lonely enough to come to me from time to time anyway. I’ve moved three times since then and he still came to me on those cold, wet nights.

I try to give him a mental scritch on the head when he comes by.

It’s not his fault he’s stuck in the wrong house.