As the days passed, Moo became a regular on the doorstep. At first, he would only come to the door with one of the other outdoor cats that frequented the neighborhood; he was too shy to come near me on his own. At least he was making some progress in trusting me… he was staying on the stoop to eat his meal, rather than grabbing a big mouthful of pate and running away with it.
It took a month or so before Moo allowed me to pet him. I suspect that being stroked sparked a memory of being somebody’s furbaby… of being a housecat.
And soon enough, Moo was strolling into the house! He’d look around, cautiously at first, eventually becoming braver and staying longer to explore the rooms downstairs. I was pleased, but I was also wary of letting him near Jinx and Milo. I didn’t know if he had any diseases, or even fleas. Plus, he was obviously not neutered. I didn’t want him spraying my furniture.
I thought of pretending I wasn’t home, because I knew why my neighbors were pounding at my door. But I knew I’d have to face them eventually. So I mustered up as much courage as possible and stepped onto the front stoop.
“So, you think it’s okay to take someone else’s cat?” Jake was belligerent.
I measured my words carefully. Another neighbor had told me a few days before that the kitten “really doesn’t belong to anyone anymore,” indicating that Jake and Clarissa had abandoned her. I believed the neighbor, since I saw Zoey outside all the time. I’d tried to catch Jake and Clarissa to ask them if it was still their kitten, but they were never around. Now it had come to this: a confrontation.
“She was hurt,” I said. “I had to get her to the vet. I haven’t seen you around. I didn’t think you wanted her anymore.”
“We’re around. We just don’t come out of out apartment a lot.” Jake was doing all the talking, while Clarissa hung back and played with her phone.
“She’s too little to be outside all the time,” I said, trying not to sound argumentative. “She could get hit by a car or mauled by a dog.” I immediately wondered whether I should have included that last part, recalling that the couple owned a pair of pit bulls. (Which, unlike the kitten, they kept in the house.)
“You can’t control a cat if it wants to go outside,” Jake scoffed.
“Yeah.” Clarissa finally spoke up. “Whenever I open the door, she scoots right past my legs before I can stop her.”
“Can I keep her while she heals, at least?” I was losing this argument and losing hope.
“Well… if I give her back, will YOU keep her indoors until she gets better?”
“No! She’s going right back outdoors, where she wants to be.” Joe stomped away. “I’m gonna call the law!”
“Wait!” I cried. “I’ll go get her.”
This shut them up.
With the heaviest of hearts, I went upstairs, where Zoey was resting on the bed, unaware of the drama that was transpiring one floor below.
I scooped up the tiny kitten and brought her outside, where Jake and Clarissa were waiting. I knew they were right. Even though I disagreed with the way they were raising the cat, it was their animal. Just because I’d gotten Zoey veterinary care didn’t give me any legal rights to her.
I held my breath as I handed the kitty over to Jake, wondering what would happen next…
I brought Zoey home and got started on her aftercare plan. I found it impossible to squirt the drops of liquid medicine down her throat; she was too wiggly. So I mixed the drops into her wet food, and she ate it right up. The flea med seemed to be working as well. While she still scratched a lot, a quick few strokes with a flea comb turned up no live fleas. The neck wound still looked awful, although it had started to fade from blood red to a healthier pink. I wondered if her fur would ever grow back there, or if she’d always have a bald spot.
My two adult cats weren’t sure what to make of the newcomer. I kept them separate as much as possible, sequestering Zoey in the spare bedroom most of the time. Of course, the other cats knew she was there; they’d smell her under the door, the way cats do. Also, I couldn’t resist letting her out once in awhile, for just a few minutes at a time, to explore a little bit of her new home.Well, the hallway at least.
As her sniffles cleared up, I let her out more and more. She was so curious about everything!
Speaking of curiosity, Milo seemed to want to know about Zoey. Jinx, however, was terribly offended that I would let another cat into our world. Certainly she, the magnificent Jinx, was splendid enough to fulfill anyone’s need for a cat! Even this Milo character was merely an “extra” on the set of her life. Him, she’d grown to tolerate, but this… this ZOEY. Just, no.
It will all work out, I thought. It’ll just take time. But three is my limit!
It’s funny, when I had just the two, I’d always joked that I was “one cat short of crazy.” Now, with the addition of Zoey, what did that make me???
Before I could figure out the answer to that question, there was a knock at my door. I opened it to see Jake and Clarissa*, my neighbors. I’d only exchanged “hellos” in passing with them, yet I knew what they were here for.
They were Zoey’s original human parents. And Jake looked very unhappy.
I thought about getting a collar for the kitten. She was so tiny, though, would I be able to find one that would fit around her miniscule neck? An adult collar would look like hula hoop on her!
As I gently stroked her fur while she ate, I thought it felt like there already was something around her neck. But not a collar; to my fingers, it felt more like a thin rope or a thick, coarse string. It was early in the morning, still dark outside, so I told myself I’d get a closer look later in the day, after I got home from my radio shift.
When I next encountered the baby kitty, I got the shock of my life. What I’d thought was a rope collar around her neck was actually multiple scratch wounds, all scabbed over. Worse than that, the kitten had a huge, raw wound on the front of her neck! A large patch of fur was gone, exposing the pink skin underneath. And right in the middle of her throat was a deep, round hole! It was red with blood, as if it had occurred recently. A claw from another cat? It looked a little too big to be that. More like a puncture wound, perhaps from a dog’s tooth.
I was horrified, even though the little cat kept on eating and acting as if everything was normal. I couldn’t let her stay outside like that, and risk the wound getting infected. Or have her get attacked by the same animal. The next time could be fatal! So I brought her inside and kept her away from my cats, Jinx and Milo.
But, as luck would have it, it was a Saturday. Were any vets even open on the weekend? And how was I going to get her there, considering I don’t have a car?
Then I had an idea… one with just the tiniest glimmer of hope.
One day, I was surprised to see the Deejling waiting outside on the sidewalk when I was walking home from work. And even more astounded when the little one followed at my heels down the long driveway that led to my front door! How cute, I thought. It’s following me like a puppy dog!
I fed the baby kitty on the front stoop, as usual. From the house, my two adult cats beheld the sight with jealousy from their perch by the living room window.
It wasn’t long before the kitten trusted me enough to pick her up. I was able get a peek under its tail. The Deejling was a She! I’d have to think of a new name for her.
One morning, the little kitty tried to follow me to work. Picture this: it’s 4AM, still pitch black outside. I’m trying to walk the half-mile to the radio station, and this spunky, wee kitty chased me for a whole city block. I picked the cat up and carried her back to my yard. This scenario played itself out three times. I realized that the stubborn kitty was not giving up. What should I do? Should I carry her to work with me? What would she do in the studio for six hours? What about a litter box? I couldn’t leave her in the house with my two cats, who might hurt the defenseless kitten. Ultimately, I outwitted her by giving her a little more food. As soon as she started eating, I bolted!
I was very flattered by the kitten’s sudden infatuation with me. I thought about her often during my air shift. Was she a stray? Should I try to tame her and take her in? Would I be premature in coming up with a name for her? I didn’t want to get too attached, only to find she belonged to somebody.
Little did I know that I’d be forced to make some important decisions sooner than expected….
It was Snowy who brought The Deejling to my porch. Snowy, or Snowflake, is my neighbor’s cat. Fluffy, gorgeous, and affectionate, Snowy has led all sorts of felines to my doorstep. Most, it turned out, belonged to other neighbors. The funny thing is, all of the cats had initially been too timid and skittish for me to get near them… until Snowy brought them to me. It was like he told them in Cat Language that I was a safe person. Or, more importantly, a source of food!
I was so thrilled when the mini Deej first appeared with Snowy on my doorstep. I was in awe. I took pics and sent them to my ex. He agreed that the kitten was a dead ringer for Deej.
After a few visits, the little guy (or gal?) let me pet it while it was eating. I was so happy! But I shouldn’t be, I thought to myself. I have two cats already. I don’t need a third!
Now that My Life With Cats is in print as a real, actual, physical BOOK, I thought I would share it with four of the cats featured in its pages. I had to read it aloud to them, as my cats are pretty intelligent (except for Tiffany), but they’re not clever enough to read. Here are their honest, uncensored reactions.
First of all, I’m a little embarrassed by the revelation that my original name was “June Bug.” The folks at the SPCA thought me to be ornery and antisocial. Well, who can blame me? A sleek, black, spooky Halloween cat named “June Bug”??!? How demeaning! Mom and Pete chose the perfect name for me. I’ve always been a Jinx. I have lived many lives before… AT LEAST nine!!!! Bwahahahaha!
Other than that, I am pleased with my portrayal in this book.
Something you didn’t read about (because Mom doesn’t know)… I didn’t spend ALL my “missing days” in the neighbor’s basement. I had me some adventures I have never disclosed to anyone. Why? Because I am saving them for my own book someday!
I love the book and I love my Momma! I am her favorite! Sometimes I gotta remind Jinx of that. I hardly remember my Military humans at all. Or my brothers and sisters. It seems that the whole world has always revolved around me. I don’t know what “surgery” is, but it sounds scary. I’m glad Momma’s not making me have it. She takes good care of my eyes.
I don’t know why Momma didn’t mention the tricks I can do, like the tunnel crawl and the bacon dance! Or how much I love John Denver. His voice makes my ears twitch. I think I remember him from one of my previous lives. How many am I up to anyway?
I live with Pete now, but I still see Mom once a week. She’s okay. I prefer my Papa, or as I call him, my “Sugar Daddy.”
The cooler incident with my kittens is all a blur in my memory. I was never meant to be a mother. I am quite self-centered. My role models are Mae West and Scarlet O’Hara. I’m not sure I like the way Mom portrayed me in this book. Almost like I’m a…. Floozy!
My earliest memory is of not feeling like I belonged. I was the “black sheep” of the litter, if you will. I guess it’s because I have seven toes on my feet instead of five. I have a very faint memory of riding home in that little red canvas carrier. My goodness, I couldn’t even fit one leg in that little bitty thing now! I’m a big boy! I can’t help it if I’m shy. I don’t ALWAYS hide when Mom comes to visit. Sometimes I come out and do a “panther stalk” across the living room in slow motion. Tiffany may be a Daddy’s Girl, but Dad and me are best buddies.
All in all, an interesting book. Who knew Mom had so many kitties before us?
Copies of My Life With Cats may be ordered by clicking here.