Winter in Northern New York is known for its brutality: sub-zero temperatures and Lake Effect Snow. And winter sometimes arrives when the calendar says it’s still fall. The temperature was dropping rapidly, with the possibility of the first snowfall of the season coming this weekend.
And Moo was still living outside.
I had been desperately posting on Facebook about Moo for nearly two months, hoping to find him a home, or at least someone who could humanely trap him, get him neutered and vaccinated, and into a shelter. I was beginning to lose hope. I would be moving at the end of the month; I didn’t want to leave Moo… but how could I take him with me?
My Ex, who I’m still friendly with, became very fond of Moo, too. He called the cat “The Mighty Moo” and reiterated many times that if it weren’t for his “crew” (cats Oliver and Tiffany) at home, he’d take Moo in a heartbeat.
Then one afternoon, I received a message from a young woman I didn’t know. I’ll call her “Mandy,” since I don’t use any human’s real names here. Mandy explained that she works at a local veterinary clinic, and she also fosters cats and kittens for the SPCA. She saw my Moo post weeks ago, but at the time the shelter was full. Now that there was room for more kitties, she could come and get him that very day…
The spotted cat was a newcomer to my neighborhood. The first few times I saw him, I spied him from afar. He stood out from the feral cats in the area; he wasn’t a stealthy hunter or a fighter. Rather, the cat seemed afraid of his own shadow. I tried calling to him, but he’d only stare at me, wide-eyed, then flee. His behavior made me wonder if he’d been somebody’s pet once. I mean, he just appeared out of nowhere one day. When I spoke to the neighbors across from my place, they claimed that someone had dumped him here earlier this summer.
I felt bad for the poor guy, who I dubbed “Moo” because of his cow spots. This was during the time I was feeding Snowy, the neighbor’s elderly outdoor cat, who I have blogged about here. Eventually, Snowy led Moo to my doorstep. When I opened the door, Moo looked at me, then at Snowy, as if to say: “Are you sure this is safe? Are you sure this lady can be trusted?”
When I put down a bowl of cat food in front of Moo, he grabbed a mouthful of pate and ran down the steps, spitting it out on the ground so that he could eat it a safe distance from me. And so went my next few encounters with Moo.
I was stumped: how could I possibly help this handsome boy if I couldn’t even touch him?
It turned out that the Mystery Cat belonged to my neighbor, Rafael*. He had another cat, Sheba, who lived indoors, as well as a dog named Princess, who I’d seen on occasion. The other animals stayed inside almost all of the time, but Snowflake liked to be outdoors. Not so much that he (yes, Snowflake was a MALE) was a nature buff; he just liked going from door to door in the neighborhood, meowing pathetically as if he were starving. He scored many a free meal that way, I’m sure!
Although I was now wise to his act, I continued to feed Snowy. (I couldn’t bring myself to call him Snowflake, because he wasn’t pure white; he was white and gray.) He was a funny cat, so vocal and quirky. He seemed to like being around people. I used to let him into my apartment and let him wander around, until I realized he was bringing fleas into the house. What a pain they were to get rid of! Milo and I are both severely allergic to fleas. So, that was the end of Snowy’s coming indoors.
Now a strictly outdoors cat (because he’d brought fleas into Rafael’s apartment, too), Snowy set off on a new mission, one that had nothing to do with acquiring free meals.
It was much more important…
TO BE CONTINUED.
*My neighbor’s name has been changed in this story to protect his privacy.