Old Orange disappeared from my yard around December 12th. Like Black and White, he had become a permanent resident, returning faithfully to his private home every night. While I may refer to him as Old Orange, I respectfully addressed him as Mr. Orange. To many in the neighborhood, he was also known as Chandler. His bright orange coat, his sweet, gentle manner, and beautiful green eyes won over many hearts.
When I first met Old Orange, he was a dissipated old tom, unkempt, with the usual battle scars, and not even remotely interested in human contact. I hesitated to get him neutered because he seemed quite old and I was not sure he would survive the anesthesia. But when he turned up with lesions on his face, throat and body, I knew it was time to take him in. Thankfully, when they neuter and spay feral cats, the ASPCA also administers antibiotics as needed. And that was all that Old Orange needed: his skin began to clear up and over time another cat emerged: this one with a clean, smooth coat and a playful disposition. Of all the cats in the alley, Old Orange was by far the most playful. Almost every day after breakfast he ran and pounced in the alley, jumping in circles, playing with nothing but a little wind. It was a joy to watch him.
Old Orange originally lived in a homemade house designed by my sister. We built this house for another cat that used to frequent the alley, Snowy. Snowy never took to the house, however, and one day in May 2010, Snowy disappeared altogether, leaving us heart-broken. But the house was at last put to good use: it became the fulltime residence of Old Orange, who was so pleased with his abode, he hated to leave it. On cold mornings, I used to serve him breakfast in bed.
Given his attachment to his residence, we were surprised and moved when early one spring he gave up his home to a pregnant female, Little Stripe, so that she could protect her five little kittens from the elements. On rainy and snowy nights, Old Orange would take refuge under the house, which stands about 8 inches off the ground. Old Orange, it turns out, was a real gentleman.