Miss Tichenor Kitty has re-emerged after an unusually harsh winter.

Miss Tichenor Kitty approached after I talked to her, but no closer than a few feet. She likes people, but she’s still wary of them.

I am greatly relieved by the return of Miss Tichenor Kitty, a young cat I’ve seen from time to time outside Tichenor Hall, the location of my office at Auburn University. It’s been an unusually harsh winter for East Alabama, with several hard freezes and temperatures that sank into the single digits more nights than I’d care to remember. A student told me she usually sees her out on the front steps of Tichenor Hall just before class. Guess I’ve been in the wrong place at the wrong time to see her.

Thing is, I’m used to seeing her on the other side of the building and late at night.

Why’s that? Well, once it heats up into the 90s in the spring and summer, I usually push my workouts to late at night. Campus is a great place for a run, and Tichenor is a good place to stop on the way back home after running out two miles from my home to the western edge of campus. Miss Tichenor Kitty is one of the late-night characters I’ve encountered, and on more than one occasion I’ve seen bowls of food and water laid out for her. She’s shy and wary, as a feral cat tends to be, and she seems to be a member of one of the colonies of feral cats on campus; you can tell them from their tipped ears that they have been captured, neutered, and returned to the wild.

Wariness improves their ability to survive, I guess. The first time I saw her, maybe a year and a half ago, she let me no closer than 12 feet away and maintained a constant bubble of space between us. Guess I’m not a stranger anymore to her; she let me within three feet before she activated the force field.

Anyway, it’s great to see her again. Maybe this is a sign that spring is really here. She’s a pretty cool creature to have as a substitute for a groundhog.