A few stars were beginning to appear above Father Risolino's small town in the Italian Alps. It was two days before Christmas, and the good weather was holding. It was cold, but not the kind of cold that turns your blood to ice. Not yet.
"Un miracolo," thought the priest. A miracle for the people and especially for the cats, the stray cats.
As the priest scanned the neighborhood, he looked around for the strays that used to populate the town, but there wasn't even a fleeing shadow. For generations the town had been famous for its willingness to feed and shelter strays. Cats used to be seen slipping out from under cars or behind trees and prowling through the streets, where little cat cafes had been set up beside empty boxes lined with blankets, which made very cozy sleeping quarters. But the townspeople had given up those practices, and now -- there were no gatti in sight!
"But the cats have to be out there," sighed Father Risolino, "cold, hungry and miserable, trying to fend for themselves." The priest scratched his head. How could he lure them out of their wretched hiding places and provide for them? And why had his congregation stopped caring about the cats?