The little one sat down beside the grown up on the curbstone. "Why," she asked, "do you want to take the cat?"

"Because it's homeless," replied the grown up who had tried, unsuccessfully, to entice the street cat into the cat carrier with food.
"The cat lives here--outside," said the child.  "Yes," agreed the adult, "but she would be better off indoors, with shelter."

"The cat has shelter out here," said the child, pointing to the trees and the densely wooded area across the road. Also noted: the brick car ports, as well as the many backyard patios. She explained patiently: the cat has lots of cat friends. They all live together out here because they're outside cats.

The grownup thought for a minute, remembering a conversation she'd once had with a couple of homeless humans some years back... "Have you tried the shelters," she'd asked them. " I don't like them," they answered; without hesitation and without elaborating. "I'd rather stay out here."

The grownup found out for herself, at another time, exactly what they didn't like about shelters.

The conversation between elder and child was a civilized one. They disagreed--at least initially--without shouting or personal attacks.

(If only the same sort of polite informal discussion could be the new normal in the country's boardrooms and courtrooms and offices.)

The elder saw the wisdom in the child's viewpoint. She knew the street cats would hunt and feed themselves without her help. She knew they had a community--a family--even if they did live outdoors.

When it rains, and when the sun bears down, the cats find places that shelter them from all weather.

One person's shelter is another's prison.

This short story is dedicated to granddaughter. That's all.

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