Loving animals comes with a price you can sometimes  measure in dollars and cents and not necessarily common sense.

I was the little girl who carried home an assortment of dogs, cats and other critters over the years.

Holding whatever animal had crossed my path that day, my speech when I reached home never varied.

“It followed me home. Can I keep it?”

“Followed” might have been exaggeration on my part.

But by hook or crook, once I laid hands on an animal, it was going home with me.

Not that my folks acquiesced to my “Can I keep it?” plea.

That almost never happened.

Didn’t stop me from trying though. Again. And again. And again.

So flash forward some decades and that little girl is alive and well in my psyche.

And Bill may try to act gruff. But that’s all it is. An act.

He’s a bigger softy than me.

Which is why we now have the Kitty Kat Kafe on the front porch.

When I sold the folks’ place across the ravine from mine a few years ago, there were a number of feral cats that went with the property.

Our cafe “guests” are their descendants.

It started with a white and orange cat that stationed itself at the gate and waited patiently for our return from wherever we’d gone.

We named he/she/it Sentinel. Without fail, this cat disappeared back into the ravine as soon as we drove through the gate.

From time to time, other cats would come out of the ravine, the bravest ones reaching the porch where they stared through the glass storm door at my two indoor cats.

We named the most frequent visitor – white with black spots – Oreo.

And once it had a name, neither of us could let it go away hungry.

We put a dish on the porch and would take Oreo a bit of cat chow whenever she showed up.

When she stayed one night on the cold, damp concrete, we added a dog bed and scrap of artificial lambs wool. And a water bowl joined the food dish.

One day Oreo showed up with her mirror image, tagged Oreo 2.

Then our guardian made a porch appearance and a few days later showed up with her doppelganger. We dubbed the pair Sentinel 1 and Sentinel 2 although I’ll admit I sometimes can’t tell one from the other.

We are also more or less regularly visited by two calico cats (so far unnamed) and two tabbies that bear a remarkable resemblance to Bill’s cat, Babette.

So far, we haven’t named those. But it is just a matter of time.

All are still skittish, though Oreo 1 will hold her ground when we open the door to set out more kibble.

She sleeps most nights in the dog bed and can often be found napping in it during the day too.

We are convinced cats communicate among themselves and one by one they’ve spread word to their fellow felines about the two soft touches.

On a daily basis we’ve gone from maybe one cup of Purina Cat Chow per day for Oreo 1 to numerous cups for numerous cats.

The only problem is the neighbors’ dogs sneak onto the porch and empty the bowl. They’ve carried off three bowls so far.

We’ve got the dollars and cents to keep this up. And common sense? It’s overrated.

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