I will start this post with the end of the story: we did NOT take in a fifth cat.
Okay, to begin with the beginning of the tail tale.
Sunday morning, when we were outside in the sunshine cleaning the snow off the driveway, our across-the-street neighbor came over.
"You know about cats, right?
The night before, in the cold and snow, a small, young, clean and healthy, tortoiseshell cat "knocked" on his kitchen window. Even though they are not pet people, he had brought the cat inside to his mud room, an enclosed unheated space, not unlike our enclosed porch--probably quite literally saving her life that very cold night. And he wanted help finding the owner.
Sis gladly helped by taking the above photo of the cat, and with it, I contacted the local lost pet people and the local cat rescue club and I left a message for Animal Control. And we kept in touch though there wasn't much news.
But the temperatures Monday night were going to be 4 below. Which means the mudroom would be too cold for the cat. My neighbor was ready to offload the cat; he'd absolutely done the right thing but was ready to be done all the same. He'd run out of the cat food he'd bought (and so they'd fed it an egg!); I'm not sure he even had litter. I think he had expected to find the owner when he knocked on doors Sunday afternoon. "If we'd wanted a cat," he told me, "when would have already had a cat."
We didn't want to take in another cat, certainly not one who hadn't been tested for disease, but we didn't want it to suffer either. So we arranged to board the cat at our vet very temporarily and to have it checked for a microchip and different diseases; our neighbor was relieved.
And then Animal Control called. They couldn't take the cat in, it being healthy and uninjured and probably clearly owned by someone, but they could help find the owner.
And a bit later, the AC officer called back--someone a few miles from here was missing their cat, a recent rescue. The owner called me and she came over to my neighbor's to see the cat, with her son, a boy a little older than the kiddos.
And it was their cat! They were so happy to have her back. And I was so glad, and also relieved that we didn't have to figure out how to take in yet another cat.
As a friend said, yesterday, we were heroes to a cat and her family.
And we hugged our four a little longer last night.