DESAYUNO EN EL JARDIN
(Gatos de San Miguel)
They live in this garden, six of them. The other seven only come at mealtimes. Josefina’s spoon clicks and clacks as she moistens the dry cat food with some from a can. She has already collected the empty saucers of yesterday evening and now distributes the pellets evenly between them. This is her first job of the day.
Outside, the cats listen with obvious, familiar anticipation. There ae only ten of them today. Two grey and white, five black and white – one patterned just like a Gateway cow – one brown-tip Siamese, one tortoise-shell. They all look fit, fat and fluffy. The last cat, however, a rusty black one, looks out of place, rough-coated, a bit mangy possibly.
Even the black and white cats that belong here move deferentially around and away from the visitors as they sort out their territories. They pace and circle, nervously eying each other. Occasionally there is a face-off, one giving way to the challenger. Sometimes, with a burst of speed, one darts behind the potted plants to emerge cautiously and resume pacing. Having established the hierarchy they all settle down to wait.
Josefina appears at the kitchen door, balancing a pile of filled saucers. She stoops to pet one home cat while all eyes watch her expectantly. The neighborhood cats move away to a safe distance as she slides each saucer across the tiles – one for each cat. If, impatient, two try to share, Josefina slides another plate nearby so each has its own food.
At last, four grouped to one side, the other six side by side in a line, the cats eat peacefully. As they finish, they go their own ways, until this evening when they will once again gather for dinner in the garden.