In 1983, we moved to Concord, CA where half of our spacious lot behind our first house was an overgrown orchard of sorts with one each of almond, apple, apricot, fig, and peach trees. Soon after we moved in, we discovered that it was the hunting ground of most of the neighborhood felines because of the number of birds and field mice in residence. It seemed to be a democratic relationship with a cat in each corner; each content with their portion of the kingdom.
A couple of months after we moved in, I noticed that most of the cats were gone. Reigning over the territory was one fat, gray cat with large golden eyes. He seemed content in his part of the yard and showed no indication that he was moving. Nor did it seem like he wanted to be adopted. He did his part keeping the mouse population in check and we studiously ignored him. He was so well-groomed and well fed, we figured that he belonged nearby and just came by our yard for easy pickings.
The weeks went by and the cat got bolder and started to nest on our laps when we were sitting outside. He had a battered and chewed ear and the worst dental hygiene, I had ever seen in a cat. He lost a fang in the autumn of that year. Yet, he continued to hang around with no encouragement such as food or shelter from us. He was an independent, outdoor cat.
We headed to Michigan for Christmas and figured that this wayward cat would find another home with no one around for three weeks. We returned in early January, dropped our bags and headed to dinner. As we walked up the driveway in the winter dark, a gray shape bounded up the front walk and proceeded to wrap himself around our legs. My husband looked at me and proclaimed "I guess we now have a cat!"