Isabella came into our lives just before Christmas, on one of the coldest, snowiest days of a winter past.  We happened to look out the window at the moment an emaciated cat, the same color as the snow, made her way around the outside of the house, hugging the warmth of the perimeter before disappearing into the whiteness of the afternoon. 

A few hours later, I noticed some paw prints in the snow on our front porch.  I set out a little food and waited - it disappeared - just like the 'snow cat' when I tried to catch a glimpse of her.  We heard a pitiful meow from time to time so we knew she was still with us, but despite our friendliest entreaties of, "kitty, kitty, kitty," we couldn't coax her out.

Enter our daughter, Carmen, who came home on Christmas break from her undergraduate studies.Carmen holding Izzy  As soon as the snow cat heard her voice, she came out from under the porch and allowed Carmen to pick her up.  From that moment, she became Carmen's guardian, companion, and confidant. With some food, a warm place to sleep, and attention to frost-bitten paws, the snow cat became Isabella; named for the Christmas song, "Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella." 

After calling the neighbors to no avail to see if anyone was missing a cat, we discovered a set of paw prints that began at our front porch and ended at a nearby rural intersection.  Since the chances of a cat wandering away in the cold and deep snow were slim to none, we surmised she had been dropped off.

Isabella watching the city street belowCats are well known for their attachment to place, but 'Izzy' proved to be remarkably adaptable. She has since become an accomplished traveler; her most recent change of venue being this summer when Carmen moved to Toronto.  Quite a leap from country cat to city kitty.  Izzy made the adjustment to a tiny, third floor walk up by taking advantage of all the vertical space the apartment has to offer.  She navigates the top of the refrigerator, cupboards and shelves like the branches of a tall tree.  She observes the bustle of a Toronto city street from her favorite perch - a wide ledge that runs the length of the front wall of windows - traffic and people scurrying like mice on the pavement below.   When Carmen crosses the border to come home, she presents her passport; Izzy, her travel papers.

I think it's true what they say, that cats choose their people.  The paw prints, in fact, began at a nearby rural intersection, and ended at our front porch.  Intersecting paths of cat and college student; not merely time and chance, but meant to be. 

It's a tough transition when an only child moves far from home, but we find solace in knowing a guardian angel in the form of a 'Snow Cat,' is taking care of things.

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