It was an unexceptional day in Cleveland when my cat grew wings. Sparky had always been a little odd. She had turned up in the garden on a languid summer afternoon. I’d watched her approach the old terracotta dish I kept topped up with fresh water for visiting birds with caution. She had licked up some water before methodically preening herself. With feline grace, she disappeared over the back fence.

Knowing the nomadic temperament of some cats, I expected that this would be the only visit. But Sparky returned occasionally. Then she settled in to stay. In true cat fashion, this was a form of adoption where, after sampling the hospitality, Sparky kept returning until she no longer left to wander around the neighbourhood.

Sparky had arrived in my life with her name neatly printed on a tin disk on her collar. I’d looked for contact details to no avail, searching local online forums and even putting up old-fashioned flyers to try and work out where she really belonged. But with no-one coming forward to claim her, I suggested that she settle in with me for a while. Sparky merely blinked, then resumed the strict regime of grooming which seemed to dominate her day.

It was a delight to have Sparky come and brush up against me when I was in the garden, and she would sometimes be quite playful and chase after butterflies or bees. I had worried about the local bird life, having created pockets of dense greenery and set up a couple of birdbaths for the visiting wrens. But the birdbaths seemed to be high enough to prevent Sparky from getting too close to the birds, and she mostly preferred to be inside, stretching languorously along windowsills as she followed the sun around the house. I had tried to add a small bell to Sparky’s collar, but despite repeated attempts, she seemed able to dislodge them.

Our days fell into an easy rhythm, and I enjoyed the mostly silent companionship that Sparky offered. She was affectionate on occasion, but not a cat to be pampered. I was surprised at times by the almost trilling nature of her purrs on occasion, but mostly she was quiet unless particularly keen for her supper.

It was an ordinary day when I glanced out the kitchen window and saw that Sparky had grown wings. I’d gasped at the image, thinking that temptation had been too strong and that she’d succumbed and snatched one of the birds that visited our garden. But there had been no squeak of protest or any sign of movement in the yard. Sparky was next to the terracotta dish, right where I’d seen her the first time. She turned slowly, unfurling a broad pair of wings, the same colour as her coat, turning until she faced me once more. With that ease of movement that I admired, she turned, flew up onto the back fence, and disappeared from my world.

This piece was written to a prompt on the Writer’s Digest website. An Unexceptional Day in Cleveland: “It was an unexceptional day in Cleveland when my cat grew wings.”

Photo: a griffin on a church in Launceston, Tasmania