We once had a short-haired ginger tom cat ingeniously named Tom. Tom was the sweetest, most loving cat I've ever encountered. Dad brought Tom home from the junkyard as a kitten when I was just a baby and he was our beloved cat for about 17 years. Towards the end of Tom's long life, he had lost some of his hearing and vision and tended to snooze most of the day. He would move stiffly when he got up, a result of arthritis in his joints, I'm sure.
I honestly can't remember what time of the year this took place, but one Saturday night my boyfriend and I watched a movie on the sofa in the den of my parents' house. I would have been about 15 or 16. My parents had gone to bed already and I shooed my boyfriend out the door after the movie ended, maybe around 11:30 pm. I remember shutting the front door behind him, turning off the lights in the foyer and den before walking around the corner into the kitchen to make sure the door to the back porch was shut.
As I came around the corner into the kitchen I flipped on the kitchen light and was startled to see a cat eating food from Tom's bowl beside the pantry door. I wasn't expecting to find Tom there and I hadn't even known he was downstairs at the time.
The food bowl was maybe 7 or 8 feet away from where I stood. The cat looked up at me and then rushed past me towards the foyer. I remember thinking that Tom's fur had looked very white and much longer than it usually did. I shrugged the oddity off, checked the back porch door, turned off the kitchen light, and then went back around the corner to the foyer and up the stairs to my bedroom. This took maybe 1-2 minutes and certainly no longer than that.
Tom was sitting at the top of the stairs with his front feet tucked underneath him. In fact, he looked like he'd been there for a while, which made me rethink about that cat I saw downstairs in the kitchen. That cat had definitely looked like it had white fur with none of Tom's dark orange striping, the fur had looked longer than Tom's, and it had moved much more quickly than I had seen Tom move in quite some time. And Tom sitting in front of me was calm and didn't look like an elderly cat that had just run up the stairs after being frightened only a few minutes earlier.
However, the idea of there being another cat in the house didn't seem very likely so I chalked all this up to being tired. I scratched Tom behind the ears and went to bed. I'm sure I told my mom about all of it the next day. She may have suggested that I had seen a neighbors' cat that sometimes stole inside to eat Tom's food as we would leave the screen door on the porch cracked open so Tom could come and go as he needed to use the bathroom outside. But I had locked up the house that night so any cat trapped inside would have been discovered the next day, and there wasn't any sign of a trapped cat in the house. And we didn't know anyone with a white cat with long hair.
At some point we learned from the neighbors that the previous owners of our house had owned a Persian with fluffy white hair. Some time later Dad was up in the attic to do something or other and he mentioned seeing cat footprints in the dust up there.
Even now it's hard to tell this story without getting a goosebump or two.