I open with this reference because I looked out the front door to a befuddling sight: one set of footprints. Here are some photos:
Above, here's my view out the front door: the first thing I saw. It was just one set of footprints, awfully close to the house. Most of the footprints that I've seen in the backyard were deer footprints, so I naturally assumed that these were deer footprints as well.
I looked to the left of the door from the screened-in porch, though, and I got more confused. I now clearly saw two sets of footprints.
I looked even farther to the left, and I saw that the two sets of footprints had merged into one path with two distinct sets of prints. Then, finally, I thought to look to the right of the door.
Now I began to see what I was dealing with...something sneaky! Two deer - or something else? - entered the yard via the same path, then took different paths as they approached the porch. But, just to be sure, I opened the front door...
Yup, cat prints! And right along the brick wall of the porch. Just as cats slide along, rubbing against your leg, a couch, or the leg of a chair, here one had moved right along the grating brick edge of the porch.
I think the "cat effect" in the Footprints poem is the other footprints, the ones that aren't there, like the ones that aren't in the photos: the ones that I made getting out to my car to go into work, and the ones that I later made to check the mail and take a short walk in the brisk air tonight. I'm referring to the actions and impacts that we all have on each other. We have no idea just how much influence our words and actions have on the lives of others. So, like cats, even if we're sneaky, we should try to make a good impression, in hopes that our words and actions will return to us with even greater potency. And maybe some warm milk.