10 Observations about Clothilde #sol22 12/31

Clothilde is not my cat. I feed her and give her fresh water every day. She sometimes warms herself on a heat pad I provide. But she is not my cat.

She is not my cat, but I am her human. Her “I’m hungry” stare is so powerful that I can sense it through the glass windows and brick walls of my house as she sits in the garage and stares daggers until I magically appear with a can of food.

I take plenty of photographs of Clothilde, but they are not great. They are photos taken through the window, because even after a year and a half of daily feeding, she runs away when I come out.

Clothilde and Marshmallow

This is our routine. She waits for me in the garage in the morning, perched on a mat to keep her toes from getting cold. I make sure to catch her eye through the window to let her know I’m on my way. She watches me gather the paper plates and cans of food. She is especially alert when one of my cats jumps into the window and I pause to pet them. When she hears the back door unlock, she runs under the fence to hide. She peeks at me warily as I fill three or four plates with canned food. She waits to crawl back under the fence until she hears my footsteps on the back porch. She pauses in the driveway to watch me get safely into the house before she returns to the garage and settles down to eat.

Clothilde and Aubergine

She has a nest nearby where she lives with her grown-up daughter, Aubergine, her last remaining kitten. (Clothilde did not take kindly to being trapped, but she is now spayed, as is Aubergine, and I have rescued her other kittens. Blueberry and Marshmallow live with my mom. The grand-kittens, Sweet Potato and Pomegranate, live with me.) We’ve looked for their nest several times, but we’ve never found it–even though we know it’s close enough for them to hear the lid pop on a can of food and show up seconds later to eat.

Clothilde, Aubergine, Blueberry

She tried valiantly to teach her kittens to be appropriately cautious of people. The lessons mostly took with Blueberry and Aubergine. But Marshmallow was a big failure, a cat who tamed himself against his mother’s express wishes. Within a couple of months, he was not only eating right next to me, he was letting me pet him. A few days after the petting started, he began to purr. And a few days after that, he allowed me to hold him in my lap while I pet him. The look of abject horror and absolute betrayal on Clothilde’s face when she saw Marshmallow sitting in my lap said it all.

I might anthropomorphize just a little bit.

Marshmallow and the fence

Still. One time Marshmallow managed to get himself on the other side of the fence with Clothilde in between us as I put out food. He kept trying to scramble under the fence and come for his breakfast and lap time, but she hissed, growled, and swatted him repeatedly to keep him on the other side.

Clothilde, Aubergine, Marshmallow

Sometimes I get lured into thinking that someday, she might tame up a bit. She eventually worked herself up to sitting on this side of the fence while I put food out–ready to slip under the gap if I moved too suddenly. On two memorable occasions she actually came into the garage as I sat there petting Marshmallow and he purred while he ate. She even took a couple of bites of food, but then dashed back to the comfort of her fence. Marshmallow’s rescue has understandably set back our progress, and now I imagine she worries that if she gets too close, she will be the next cat to mysteriously disappear.

For now, I watch for her through the window. And she watches for me.

First photo of Clothilde October 2020


My theme for Slice of Life 2022 is finding inspiration in the writing of others. Each day I plan to find my slice in someone else’s words or forms. My slice today doesn’t closely resemble its inspiration, Trina’s Ten Observations, but as soon as I read her post, I had the idea of writing ten observation-y paragraphs about my favorite thing to observe outside, the cat who is not my cat.

21 responses to “10 Observations about Clothilde #sol22 12/31”

  1. I loved your take on 10 observations SO much more! I am fascinated with your care for cats. They are beautiful.

  2. Love the paragraph building structure and the visual content to strengthen the narrative. This theme is working for. It just yiu. Did you see the wildfire that is the rambling autobiography?

  3. You are definitely her human. These are great pictures, even though they were taken through a window. I can just imagine the look of horror on her face seeing Marshmallow on your lap. I am sure she was thinking, “As a mother I failed. Where did I go wrong?”

  4. For some reason, I had not connected Marshmallow’s amazing coloring with Clothilde’s, but now I realize he looks very like her! I love this build-up of her story through 10 observations.

  5. Of course I’m here for your #Caturday observations. Clothilde (what a name!) might be related to one of my cats give her tendency to run away . She’s very pretty, as are the other family members. It seems as though she has you trained well, something that happens here, too. I think you and Kim Johnson might be the best furparents in this community, if not in the country. I love how you welcome all these cars into your home, even when they’re not your cats. 😉

  6. I love this line, “She is not my cat but I am her human.” I am not really a pet person, but reading your stories about the cats you have taken into your heart makes me understand how special they, and your relationship with them, are. I love reading about the cats through your eyes.

  7. This is such an interesting relationship. I love how patient you’ve been with C’s unchanging attitude toward you. Whenever I hear the word feral these days, I think of an article I read last fall where someone described the kids in this pandemic (post-pandemic?) time as being feral. There is some truth to the wariness and the difficulty with the social customs. But you are doing with C. what we need to do with kids: meet them where they are and adjust to their needs.

    • I can see that too. Kids are definitely different post-pandemic, and it’s been an adventure and a journey to figure out how best to work with them. I still don’t have the academic piece fully figured out, but at least I’ve got strong connections with everyone. That’s what is mode needed right now anyway.

  8. This is my favorite sentence: “But Marshmallow was a big failure, a cat who tamed himself against his mother’s express wishes.” The look of abject horror and betrayal on Clothilde’s face was a very close second.

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