Several days ago our local animal shelter posted a plea for donations via our beloved online journal, Columbia Magazine.
Cat and Dog food, cat litter, pet toys, soft bedding are always needed.
One correspondent posted a suggestion that a few sturdy boxes for the cat area would be welcomed by the feline residents.
The editor proposed that readers share stories and photos of cats in boxes.
I couldn't resist trolling though my many photos of our cat companions to create the above collage.
Several of these dear pets are no longer with us--making the photo review one of nostalgia.
I'm sharing the essay I wrote to accompany the collage.
I can't recall a time when we didn't share our home with an assortment of feline companions. Over the years the numbers have varied--usually we are housing and feeding more of the creatures than makes sense to anyone but a dedicated cat lover.
We've found that while one can make polite suggestions to a cat regarding appropriate places for napping or meditating, cats have a way of choosing their own special nooks.
We encourage them with baskets and boxes lined with remnants of soft towels or old sweaters. While these accommodations are usually accepted, nearly any empty container becomes fair game. Set down a large kettle or colander during canning season and I can guarantee it will have been taken over by the time I reach for it. An open drawer or cupboard, a closet door left ajar, an empty space on a book shelf--- all will be claimed.
Set down a basket of clean laundry, fresh from the clothesline, you will find it lures an occupant. The basket holding a sewing or quilting project is up for grabs; if you are lucky enough to bring home an old-fashioned paper bag, it will provide hours of amusement for your cats as they scoot it
around the room.
Cats have a way of fitting into unlikely containers: a shoebox, a shipping carton that is much too small. They have an ability to soften the edges, tuck in their paws, fold the tail tidily, creating the illusion that the space was custom made for the inhabitant.
Sometimes what we humans offer as a cozy nest is spurned and ignored while an unlikely box becomes so popular that squabbles break out. Places not intended as cat beds seem especially attractive--the small bin which holds gloves and winter hats--the basket heaped with carefully folded towels, the tray holding papers and other oddments.
A cat in a box or basket considers himself/herself both invisible and invulnerable, sprawled with legs in the air or curled into a tight slumbering ball of fur. The chosen 'bed' becomes a retreat, a hidey-hole, a lair, a den, a refuge, a place to 'sit tight' and survey the humans who are meant to