Villa IMG_4045Maybe the second day of our Tuscan retreat I met Lucky. He is one of 10 cats that prowls between these hillside villas. He is silvery gray with black stripes and he loves hard. He wants to be held and pet and squeezed. Each time I pick him up he digs into my shoulder with such passion I bleed.

He “belongs” – as much as any cat belongs – to the owners of these villas. When they are not occupied by renters, the cats have free reign and their pick of homes. Lucky seems to know this. He walks into the open kitchen door with confidence or even indifference, only to be swept up and removed because a few of our house mates are allergic.

This is bad news for Lucky. And me. But he is clever and undeterred. A few moments later mournful meows call me over to a small balcony between the kitchen and the living room; he tries that door. I look at him longingly, then cast a woeful glance on his behalf in the direction of the allergic. I can’t let him in.

But the front door is open too. It is spring and there are no mosquitoes and very few critters, other than cats, that will simply saunter into an occupied home. Eventually he finds this means of ingress and immediately runs down the stairs and finds a place to sleep. I pretend I don’t know this.

Another time he was denied entry, he simply made his way to the roof and stood on the skylight meowing, declaring he knew of no other way down than in. The skylight had to be opened so he could plop onto the bed beneath it. Well played kitty.

But he is not alone. A day or so goes by and an orange tabby introduces herself. She loves to be loved too. Then a big blur of a Himalayan darts in and out of the bushes. And an all gray soft kitty who refuses petting but likes to go on walks.

And there are more. But Lucky has my heart. And sometimes my bed. More than once Karin and I accidentally let Lucky into our room to snuggle. We may have also inadvertently let the orange kitty in the day we stayed back at the villa by ourselves. Oh yeah, and the soft gray kitty too.

On our last morning at the villa Lucky meows outside our window, as he has done before, so we could say our good-byes. It’s like he knew. I was sad to leave him, of course, but I know he is deeply loved and royally cared for here, so I am only sad for my loss, not for him.

This is his home and he is Lucky indeed.

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