I am called Henri of Twin Brook, the cat formally known as Happy. Until
September of the year 1997, I prowled the streets and alleys of this town,
foraging for food from the trash cans of the city's residents. In my youth,
I was adept at snaring within my paws, the hapless sparrow or careless
mouse. My jaws closed upon their sweet flesh as I ignored their pleas
for mercy. I had to eat. My life was about eating and sleeping and avoiding
the perils of the streets.
In the spring, my pursuits and interests were more focused on the lovely
queens and damsels in the neighborhood. I fought other toms for their
undying affections and attention. I was strong! I was handsome! I was
bigger and braver than any cat whose paws dared to tread upon my territory!
I was relentless in the pursuit of food, water, lady cats and a comfortable
place to sleep away the daylight hours. Night, with its shadows and strange
noises was my domain. I was a formidable presence on the streets! All
cats respected me. Those who feared me, and their numbers were many, stayed
out of my way. Those who honored me and showed respect, became my friends
and together we traveled the paths of survival together.
What happens to a cat who has spent his life on the streets? We grow older.
We grow leaner. And sometimes we are afflicted with sickness and injury.
Some of my friends, both male and female died under the tires of a speeding
automobiles. Some became ill and too weak to hunt for food and water and
wondered off to die in solitude. I grieved for all. Each life and spirit
was precious to me except of course for those tom cats who had beaten
me up a few times......I had not learned the art of forgiveness until
that day in September when I, Henri of Twin Brook, staggered along the
streets, my fur wet and greasy, my stomach screaming for food, my eyes
bleary with fatigue, stood face to face with the humans who would become
my persons. Why she had stopped to pat my battle scared head and smooth
my dirt encrusted coat, I shall never know. She carried a bowl of food
and put it at the edge of the sidewalk. They both watched and spoke kind
words to me as I devoured those delicious morsels, leaving not a crumb.
I followed them home that night. The wind was chill and the raindrops,
although sparse, were cold against my back. I followed them through the
back gate and stood watching as they passed through the door to their
warm house. She returned later with a warm blanket and spread it on the
table underneath the roof of the deck. I fell asleep, wrapped in the soft
folds of the blanket and awakened the next morning, the warm rays of the
sun brushing against my fur. A bowl of succulent food had been placed
near the blanket. I knew then, that I had found a home.