She has to be in her late 60s. Probably new in the neighborhood—I did not see her before. A shaven head, bright eyes, a hippie gown thrown on her slim body, I met her in my office parking lot while walking to my car after work.
She caught my eye. She was feeding the stray cats. Talking with them, it looked like she hurried from home to fulfill her mission. One glance was enough to see it is more than a hobby for her.
Several cats gathered around her. A street gang. Some strong and looking healthy, others shy and beaten. One was waiting several meters aside, patiently. I opened my car window, asking her how the babies are.
“Hungry,” she replied.
“There is another one there,” I say, while opening the parking lot barrier, rolling slowly into the street.
“I know,” she says. “She does not mingle with the crowd. She is a princess waiting for me to come over.”
And indeed, the Princess is waiting patiently, and finally gets her share.
It was several evenings that I saw this, and every time we spoke a few words through the open window, the lady and I.
Last week I stopped to talk with her before getting into my car. She told me she is relatively new here, and moved in with her own cat.
The cat took a while to get acquainted, and at first she had to shut the windows as the cat would jump out of the window every time while she was away at work. Plus she could not keep the windows closed or she would suffocate. Hot, humid Tel Aviv days and nights. She had to let the cat go. Then she decided to adopt the stray cats. She has three different gangs, in different corners. Each gang has a different menu; I did not catch exactly why.
She watches who else feeds them, and then decides what she will bring, whether cat food (Does she buy it? I will have to ask, but that’s certainly what it looks like), or table scraps. We keep talking. She says the cats need company, and I can see how fond they are of her.
She needs company too, and does not seem to have much of it. Eager to talk and talk.
I walk to my car, heading home.
Tel Aviv, a hot summer night with lonely people and lonely cats.
Related reading: “The Real Cat Woman,” about a woman who feeds street cats in Jaffa, on The Wide Lens blog.