You were my writing partner. Almost every morning, whenever I would emerge onto my front porch with messed-up hair and stiff joints, a laptop in hand, ready to write, there you would be. Waiting for me.

I’d tap out this column, and you’d sit at my feet. Silently evaluating my por grammer.

Each morning. You’d be whipping your tail, sitting on my rocking chair, sort of expecting me. You knew what time I woke up. You knew my writing habits. You knew I’d be on this porch at 7 a.m., steaming mug in hand, ready to tap away on this laptop.

They called you “Half Ear” because you were a feral cat. Feral cats get their ears tipped whenever they are caught. Ear-tipping is when they surgically remove a small portion of a cat’s ear while the animal is under anesthesia for spay or neuter surgery.

This, of course, is the universal way of signifying that a feral cat has been spayed or neutered. Sort of like the universal way of knowing that a guy with sleeve tattoos either rides a Harley or is a hipster chef who prepares balsamic vinaigrettes in his or her spare time.

You’d weave yourself through my legs the way all felines do. You’d purr. You’d flick that tail. And you weren’t satisfied unless I’d take a full five or 10 minutes out of my work schedule to stroke you.

You were Steinway black. You were slight. Your coat grew unevenly because of fleas, and the rainbow of scars accrued on your body from past street fights.

You had a home in our neighborhood. All the neighbors fed you. All the local kids played with you. All the residents knew your name. We all loved you.

Whenever I would return home after a long trip, I’d see you in my windshield the moment I entered our neighborhood. You’d be sitting in the center of my driveway. Like you were awaiting my arrival.

On long summer days, you would sunbathe on the hood of my truck. During rainstorms, you would sit on my back stoop, watching the downfall in a trance.

Used to, whenever I watched baseball on my front porch, you’d sit beside me and take tiny sips from my beer while I griped about the paramount importance of relief pitching.

I know it’s stupid, but being your pal made me feel privileged. You trusted me enough to sit with me, to hang out with me, to touch me. To partake of my malted beverage.

Greater love hath no man than to share his beer with a friend.

When I moved into this house a little over a year ago, I had no friends in this giant city. I had just relocated to Birmingham, all my pals were five hours behind me. I was lost and disoriented. I had to use a GPS to go the Piggly Wiggly.

But I had you. From the first day. You were right there. You were the first resident of Magic City to welcome me. You were nice. You never judged me.

You could have shunned me. You could have been cautious. You could have made me feel like an impostor, living in this new house. But you didn’t.

Often, the other local feral cats would stand at the periphery, sizing me up. They never came near me. They were too streetwise to trust some big, dumb guy like me.

But you always charged through the group and came straight toward me. Unafraid. Cheerful. I considered us allies.

Yesterday, when our neighbor found your wilting, frail body in the backyard, she took you to the doctor. They told me the doctor put you down because you were dying.

When I heard the news, I cried, Half Ear. I cried the same way I have cried for all souls I’ve loved before. Both human and otherwise.

I know you probably don’t think you were all that important to us humans—after all, you were just a feral animal. You were born in an alleyway. You were raised on catfights, hard living, and handouts. But you were sort of mine. And I was sort of yours. Because above all, you were my friend.

And just I wanted you to know how difficult it was to write this without my partner.


  1. stephen e acree - July 18, 2023 10:12 am

    I had that guy for awhile, too. Beautiful male cat that just wandered up one day and kept coming for the food and to sit on my lap. Maybe miss a day or two or three but always came back. THen one day he didnt. Presley (the daughter) named him Hamilton (after Alexandar and the play she loves so much). I always tell people that animals “know” about people and come to the good ones. At least it makes me feel like an animal person. Nice story, Sean.

  2. Diana - July 18, 2023 11:12 am

    You’re such a kind, loving man. And, I’m crying over a feral cat story.

    • Karen - July 25, 2023 4:39 pm

      Shame you didnt bring him inside and protect him more

      • Rob - July 28, 2023 11:19 pm

        You can’t always bring in a feral cat, Karen. Try not to be such a, well, Karen.

  3. Paul - July 18, 2023 12:13 pm

    One morning as I was about to take our cocker spaniel for a walk, I saw a filthy cat sitting on our front steps. He looked reddish-brown from all the dirt he’d accumulated from living outside. I thought, “There’s going to be quite a fight.” Wrong. The dog and cat rubbed noses like old friends. Long story short, I began giving him food and water, had him bathed, his coat grew out to a beautiful, shiny, pitch black. Not one white or gray hair in his body. Tarbaby adopted me and was with us for 12 years. He loved me and tolerated my wife. His name tag is till on my key chain many years later.

  4. elizabethroosje - July 18, 2023 12:26 pm

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ totally understood


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