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  • Writer's pictureTamara S. Graham


Updated: Jan 15, 2021

I have a feral black cat friend that showed up suddenly last summer, and after originally nicknaming Blackie, I later decided to call "Pan". It was both short for Panther and Pansexual, since I wasn't sure what his sexual orientation was. Surprisingly, our 3 female indoor/outdoor cats were not threatened by this outdoor visitor, since previously they had been upset by any male cat. I had an energetic feeling he was presenting as female, but was actually born male. My family assumed Pan was a female since our cats seemed to tolerate this new frequent visitor. As he got older, I got a glimpse of his growing manhood, so the discussion of biological gender was finally resolved. So the name I gave him of Pan stuck. Now I wonder if he (or his name) was a premonition to the Pandemic due to the timing of his appearance and disappearance. Ironically, I have not seen him since I was forced to work from home as we sheltered-in-place here in far Northern California.

This story begins July 17, 2019, when a skinny little black stray kitten began to hang around our yard, and timidly visit me on the back porch. Of course, my heart melted and I began to feed him daily. Usually, he would wait for me patiently outside the back door and I would look forward to getting up early (before I had to leave for work) to feed this little guy. He was very cautious and would not let me touch him for weeks, and even then - only when - and if he was getting a treat. I had to giggle a little because his spine would curve downward in rebellion under my hand - as if I had cooties, or magnetically repelled him! He definitely wasn't used to human touch. But, he learned to put up with it, as long as that affection came with food.

He often seemed ravenous and a bit dirty or roughed up, so I assumed he did not have a home. He was here most mornings like clockwork and was very vocal. In fact, often after I fed him and went back into the house, he would still meow as if asking for attention. He barely let me pet him, and no way did he want me to hold him, so I thought it was adorable that he just seemed to want someone to talk to. Don't we all? I understand little guy, tell me all about it.

It was during this time that I was enjoying my newly set up blog, and creating photos to go with my verbal images and musings. I often did my writing on those weekend mornings since I couldn't sleep in any longer knowing I had a friend waiting for me to feed him. My Pan, my muse, my new buddy. He often napped just outside my office window as I silently plunked away on my computer keyboard and chased my own kind of mouse.

Rarely, I would see him out on the porch after midnight or in the wee hours of the morning, all huddled up trying to stay dry and warm. It was not practical to allow him inside, since it would be our human and furry family's decision - and no one but me was ready for. As the evenings began to get colder, I set up a cardboard box near the hot tub, hoping he would discover the radiating heat if he was cold enough. As far as I could tell, he never used it or discovered the treats inside.

So, I bought him an igloo style, outdoor cat bed that he never felt comfortable climbing into. Even on the coldest mornings when I had set it up in the warmest spots, I never saw him use it. I even tried adding a rug tent over it to keep him more protected. But, he was too wild to be confined and seemed to choose to sleep elsewhere. Perhaps, he did find a home after all, and was just visiting me in the mornings for extra food. I did enjoy seeing him grow and the food I gave him seemed to give him some body fat to survive.

Winter came and my heart would break when I went out to feed him and he shivered as he devoured plenty of food. I began to spoil him even more by giving him warm cream if I saw him before work.

He was always a considerate guest, never eating every bite. No matter how much cat food I gave him, he always left between 10 to 20 kibbles - for someone else - or perhaps a snack for later. He did it every time, no matter what time of day, or how starving he showed up. It was an endearing personality trait that I often admired. I could have called him "Lil Sumpin" (a popular beer around here) since that is what he left, and that is what describes the few white hairs he has on his chest!

I finally figured out that he liked that cat bed in the flattened configuration, without the fluffy pillow. I would occasionally find him in it waiting for me in the morning. One bitter cold night, I coaxed him into our 3 season porch-like "cat sunroom". As soon as I closed the door to keep him separated from the other cats, he went into deep distress. I had to decide if it was worth traumatizing him just to offer warmth. He was still shaking but with fear, and meowing loudly. No other humans were home, so I kept him in there to keep him alive, no matter how loud and upset he got. There was a very heavy sliding glass door between him and the house. I slept on the couch nearby so he could see me and he seemed to give in to the warmth I had offered and he lay down for a nap.

I decided to go to my own bed, since the couch was very uncomfortable. I woke up about two hours later to Pan's distinctive, demanding meowing and daylight just peeking in the window. I jumped out of bed remembering he was probably still upset. But when I got downstairs, the sliding glass door was open and he was not in there!?! I was half asleep and very confused. I looked around the house and discovered that our cats had Pan a bit cornered n the dining room and he was close to the back porch window yelling for me to let him out. Wow, how the heck did he get that door open? I can only imagine it took him hours of pulling at the bottom of that door, and/or the indoor cats may have even helped him, feeling his emotional pain and fear of being trapped. He sure seemed like a magical cat, or at the very least desperately determined! Pan the man!

Around mid-February, he showed up with a hurt back paw. Tough little guy would not let me get close enough to help or even look at it. In that short visual flash of discovery, all I could deduce was that something may have bit him, or he perhaps a door had closed on him.

I was able to snap this photo a day or so later as I watched to be sure he was healing. I debated taking him to a vet, but since he may have a home, I didn't think I should. The vet would have probably talked me into getting him fixed and vaxed, which I wasn't prepared to do emotionally or financially. Each day he came back and I did some energy work on him and nurtured him as best as I could. He stopped limping and healed.

The last time I saw my dear little friend was March 27th, 2020. Yes, I know the exact day because as you can tell, I have a photo diary of our time together. Ironic that it was only a week after I began working from home (due the COVID-19 pandemic) and would have had more time to spend with him. My heart is happy knowing that I helped him grow and got him through the winter. And perhaps, he found a forever home since everyone is sheltering-in-place now. Maybe I helped to tame him so he was ready for a human family home.

I once had a black cat statue that looked just like this.

It's been 6 weeks without my intriguing blacklight hanging around. I sure do miss this little guy, and I think my young grey tabby cat, Gracie, does too. They didn't directly interact when I was watching, but they sure seemed to have a growing affection.

From the age of eighteen to my early twenties, I used to have an all black cat named Princess. She was always near me while I was taking a correspondence course on writing children's books. Perhaps this little guy is her, reincarnated to finish our relationship. Or (s)he came back to be with me as I am getting ready to publish the children's book series that has finally emerged from my heart after 50 years in the making! Thank you Pan the man, or woman!

P.S. I had a dream last night that inspired me to write this blog, as if Pan was trying to communicate! I will update you here if Pan comes back to visit, or if the Humane Society responds to my inquiry if anyone has brought him there. Stay tuned!

Tami is an optimistic, nurturing soul, full of great maternal compassion. Being a mother has been her hardest and most rewarding job since her unique and sensitive children have been her greatest inspiration and teachers. She is currently writing a series of children’s books for the misunderstood sensitive souls that have come here to change the world, The Sunshine Books. Follow this blog for more of her heartfelt ponderings about life and her love for children and animals.

{Copyright 2019 - 2021 - Most photos are the property of Tamara S. Graham unless noted otherwise}

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