“He knows this is his home”
In December 2022, Maureen Friedberg was excited to settle into a newly purchased house with her husband and two indoor cats, Maximus and Chloe. With her husband’s carpentry skills and her eye for cozy decor, customizing their new family home was their main priority moving in — until a round, orange cat appeared on their porch the next morning.
“This beautiful orange cat looked right at me through the window, and we made eye contact,” Friedberg told The Dodo. “I knew this cat was special right there. I had a strong feeling we would be seeing each other every day.”
The Friedbergs spent their first day unpacking and planning out future renovations, all while thinking about their orange visitor. They were happily surprised to see him on the porch again the next day.
By springtime, the cat’s visits became a daily occurrence, and the Friedbergs always welcomed him with a bowl of food. He was skittish and would run away when served, but he always felt safe enough to return for a nibble.
Spring soon turned to summer, and the cat, whom the Friedbergs named Oranges, grew more curious about his generous neighbors. He looked on while the couple worked on house projects outside, and he soon stopped running away at mealtimes.
“Eventually, he didn’t run when I brought out his food,” Friedberg said. “He would sleep on the rocking chair we had on the front porch and wait for his food.”
The Friedbergs fell in love with Oranges instantly, and they knew he belonged indoors with them. But by the time fall rolled around, temperatures began to drop, and Oranges still didn’t feel comfortable enough to venture inside.
“We just knew that this cat could not sleep all winter on our porch,” Friedberg said. “That’s when my husband had the idea to build him a house.”
Over a month, Friedberg’s husband built a miniature house for Oranges to take shelter in. The couple knew that it’d need to be well-insulated to keep him warm, but they decided to go above and beyond for the adorable little guy.
“He built the house like he was building a house for ourselves,” Friedberg said. “The walls are insulated. The roof has shingles. There's a front porch. He has a light inside. The house is temperature-regulated with a heater setup in a separate room.”
The Friedbergs set the tiny house on their lawn and installed motion-sensor cameras in the main bedroom and the front porch. They added one last decor piece: a sign that read “Oranges Home” on the front door.
Then, they waited for the unsuspecting new homeowner to arrive.
“It took one night for Oranges to crawl into his house,” Friedberg said. “It brought me to tears. He loved it.”
Oranges has spent nearly every night since in his new home, sleeping belly-up in his cozy bedroom. Because of the Friedbergs’ love, the tomcat has escaped most of this winter’s frigid nights, staying warm and dry in his house.
“I love seeing him on the camera, walking up to his house and climbing in,” Friedberg said. “He knows this is his home.”
The Friedbergs are still working on gaining Oranges’ trust completely, and they hope to snuggle up with him inside soon. They love watching him snooze away on camera, but they know just how much better life can be for the little guy.
“I really look forward to the moment [when] he can just be a cat,” Friedberg said. “Lying around the house on the couch or the bed, sleeping soundly for hours uninterrupted. I want him to know what it feels like to be loved. To cuddle. To just be himself.”
Photo Source: MAUREEN FRIEDBERG
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