Mr. Gray never achieved the fame of Socks, the stray cat that lived in the Clinton White House. In fact, few people care one way or another about Mr. Gray or his life on this good earth. Oh, sure some readers ask about him from time to time and wonder what he is up to these days.
I wish I knew. Actually, Mr. Gray may have lived out all of his nine lives because he hasn't made an appearance on the front porch since before Christmas. I look for him daily and wonder where he has gone for his handout. For years, he has been a constant visitor. In all that time, he never ceased being a wild feline - hungry and wanting his needs met.
The nicer I was to him, the more he hissed at me if I got too close to him. It was an odd kind of friendly relationship. He trusted me to feed him and I trusted him not to bite me. Oh, I admit I kept my eye on him in close encounters. You can never really trust a wild animal I have learned during my lifetime.
Back in those Pennsylvania hills where I was raised, I had pet groundhogs, flying squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, snakes, mink and even a fox one time. I've had bites all over my hands and arms, so I know to be careful when dealing with wild critters.
Anyway, Mr. Gray is either deceased or has gone back to Monastery land, where he may have come from originally. My spouse is glad he is gone because he did not act friendly toward her either!
One good thing about Mr. Gray is that he was a good hunter. He took his share of birds and ground squirrels, but I believe he did cut down on our once overpopulated snake habitat. He was good at catching field mice as well.
So-o-o, Mr. Gray is gone. He wasn't Socks, wasn't really faithful or friendly, but was a kind of companion in his own way. I never heard him purr, but I did see him arch his back and have watched him sneak up on prey. I know he had sharp claws and teeth, and I have seen him use them on his enemies.
I can tell you that his choice of menu was meat, but dry cat food served him well when he was truly hungry. He also drank milk once in awhile. I never counted them, but Mr. Gray had at least 30 teeth and several sharp canine teeth for flesh tearing. I never really found out because he never bit me in all our years of association. Cats live about 14 years, yet I cannot say if he has been visiting that long. I do know he's gone and for some strange reason, I miss him.
While I thought I was helping one of God's creatures to survive, Mr. Gray was giving me that cold stare and probably thinking, "I've got that old fool right where I want him!"
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Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.