About three weeks ago Lolly and I returned home from shopping to find a naked tuxedo kitty in our yard. We had never seen her before and thought it must be someone’s lost pet. After she vaulted over the fence, she flopped over in the alleyway and showed off her belly. (The kitty, that is, not Lolly. Although it would have been equally charming – and surprisingly studly with the fence leaping – if it had been Lolly.) Then a car pulled in, but she was in no hurry to get out of the way so we scooped her back into our yard.
As our gluten free fettuccine noodle dinners were thawing in the shopping bags, we stood around perplexed and worried about what to do next. Was she really a stray? Just some other neighbor’s cat? Dumped in our yard because of the pinkness of our lady house and the stunning cat-shaped topiary by the street?
We quickly surmised that she was not feral because a) the belly presentation, and b) taking of treats out of our hands. Also, whilst a little scabby, she also had some shininess and substance indicative of someone maybe doing some caring for her. So we did what anyone who remembers what her mother told her about not feeding a stray cat because it will keep coming back would do and fed her.
…And, lo and behold, she doth return…
However, without capturing her and stowing her in the basement –which we felt we couldn’t do because of exposure to our other extremely sheltered, coddled, spoiled, fraidy, indoor-only cats– I didn’t think we could put up flyers in the neighborhood to say she was “FOUND!” Really she was just “SEEN!” and “SOMETIMES ON MY PORCH!” and those wouldn’t make for very helpful signage. Instead I did some sleuthing: posted on our neighborhood forum and called around to local vets and the city animal shelters, repeatedly checked Petfinder and Craigslist, and looked for “LOST” signs in the area. No luck. No match. I also started pestering people about taking her in if she was in fact a homeless kitty, e.g. phoning my boss after work and telling her, “Your cat is on my porch again. I think you should come get her.”
I knew that the next thing to do entailed bringing her somewhere to have her scanned for a microchip (because cats with chips are allowed to roam around without tags on according to someone at the city shelter). But the thought of taking her somewhere, finding out she was nobody’s, then plopping her back out into the alleyway to continue to fend for herself seemed too cruel. If not just to her, then also to me. Closing the door in her little face every night and leaving her out there in the dark alone was making us anxious. And some of us began weeping regularly.
Then, a breakthrough. My boss’ daughter lives two blocks away. One afternoon she was over there with her new grandbaby and started a conversation with one of the neighbors. This neighbor, we’ll call her Alice, told my boss about a black and white cat that she used to have, three of whose grown kittens she still has, who didn’t want to stay with them anymore and was taken in by another neighbor who then moved away without her. Hence, Alice’s former cat was now roaming the neighborhood for the past year, coming and going as she pleased with no particular place to call home. Could this be the same cat?
The squawk box in my head told me I had a new mission: to confirm tuxedo kitty’s identity. I wrote a letter. I printed out some pictures. I left the letter on Alice’s porch. Later that day, her husband called me and filled in a little more of the story… Their daughter brought them a kitten one day. They kept her for about three years or so. In that time she had kittens of her own (because -I paraphrase- having animals needlessly reproduce is a great thing for kids to witness and kittens can be sold to people, who will even come from out of state to buy them, for twenty bucks or more, so kittens are not the burden one would think they are, and besides, she is spayed now). Then, mysteriously, the cat no longer wanted anything to do with her kittens when they got a little bigger and she stopped coming home. She “divorced” Mr. and Mrs. Alice. “We didn’t abandon her. She abandoned us.” He said she was not friendly to them and was even “semi-hostile.” Still, she was welcome to come around if she wanted and have some food, etc. etc. I thanked him for calling and kept my WTF to myself.
I made some more letters up and delivered them to the house where the lady-who-moved used to live to find out if anyone living in those apartments had taken up care for the cat. One of them, we’ll call her Betsy, called me to tell me that Socks/Boots was left behind by the woman who lived there before her. She does visit with her, feed her, and allow her into the house last winter, also that she gets along okay with her two cats.
We felt quite relieved by this information, but by this time she was already at our place in the morning (asleep in her be-blanketed crate until we make kitchen sounds), back in the afternoon (to have a nap and a treat if Lolly sees her), and here in the evening (for dinner, petting, playing, and sleeping). So while folks have been looking after her now and again, she has pretty much taken up residence here, and even more neighbors have noticed. To date, when I’ve been
busted feeding her spotted with her, I’ve been asking, “Hey, do you know this cat?” because she is NOT MY CAT!