Walking back to the inn from Ocracoke Coffee Company, I noticed a woman feeding more cats than I could count at a glance. Dozens, anyway. I asked her if the cats were hers — I just couldn’t help myself — and she said no, they’re feral cats, fed, spayed, neutered and provided veterinary care by a non-profit organization called Ocracats.
Ocracoke is home to an estimated 1,000 feral cats, she said, roughly the same number as domesticated humans, but the cats (like the Banker ponies, I’ve learned) are believed to have descended from livestock thrown overboard to buoy sinking ships along the Outer Banks during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Shipwreck survivors, in other words. No wonder they look so hearty. (Tonight I’ll dream about cats with little peg legs and eye patches who drink ale and say “Arrrr!”)
After coffee and cats, I walked 2.5 miles north (then 2.5 miles south) along the ocean beneath an overcast sky. The beach was deserted and the wind was almost strong enough to lean into. Very much to my liking.