I’ve never had a pet. Not a dog, or cat or bird or gerbil. Nothing. Jade has been trying to persuade me all her life to get a dog, specifically a golden retriever. I remember when we started the process to adopt a second baby, I asked her if she’d like to have a sister. “No, I want a puppy.” This question and same answer went on for about seven months. Finally I asked again, this time saying she could name the baby. She agreed, and that’s how Faye got her name. I was grateful she hadn’t chosen Max or Buddy, as that would have started a whole new round of negotiations. Still, she never gave up on asking for a dog.
Faye hasn’t seemed to care one way or another. Maybe she never got over the trauma of being a dog-substitute.
There are those who might insist that our live-in chicken last summer was a pet. The fact that BG named her Henrietta, could be submitted as evidence. I disagree. I only ever wanted her eggs. Once Kim and Thomas built the lattice wall on one side of the carport opening, and the sliding lattice door on the other, she never came back.
Enter Neko-chan. This cat adopted us a week ago. I had been helping BG make a pork roast in the Crockpot, that is to say, I was stripping off and getting rid of all the fat that I knew he and Faye would eat. This cat suddenly appeared on the side porch and insistently asked for food. I figured I’d get rid of it and the fat by giving it to him/her. No, it just asked for more. I gave it the rest, and figured that was the end of the story.
I was wrong. It came around to the front door, peered in through the screen, and cried for more. The poor thing was very thin, a young beautiful cat with crystal blue eyes and a multicolored coat and dark brown tail. BG immediately took to the beast: despite being allergic to cats he scratched it and fed it luncheon meat. “Hey, that stuff is $13 a pound!” I said with alarm.
As he stepped outside with another chunk of ham, he retorted, “Cats are obligate carnivores. Besides, the poor thing is hungry. Here Puss – now that’s the last piece.” BG went upstairs, and the cat continued to meow insistently.
When Jade woke up, she took the cat’s measure, and brought it a bowl of water, despite her vocal distain for “the cat.” But it was Faye getting up several hours later who fell in love: holding it, stroking it, purring to it and deciding it should have a name. I told her she better hurry, as BG had already written Puss on the water bowl Jade took out.
As Faye deliberated, BG came home from his mid-day walk with 10 cans of premium cat food. He proceeded to feed it two cans immediately. The cat didn’t protest. But I did. Based on the girl’s cat-sitting jobs when our former neighbors took off for a weekend, I knew that Amy and Kim fed their cats two times a day. They got a big dish of dry cat food in the morning and a can of wet food split between them at night. “You’re going to make that cat puke!”
“But it’s hungry – look at him. He’s gobbling it all down.”
Faye tried several names on the cat, all Japanese, and decided on Neko-chan. She’s still determined to learn Japanese by watching Anime, and to my surprise, she’s actually progressing fairly well. “What does Neko-chan mean?”
“Neko means cat in Japanese, and -chan is the suffix that indicates a younger or smaller member of the family. When you put them together they mean kitty.”
Neko-chan stayed on the front lanai all day. Every time anyone stepped out, it nuzzled up to them, stroking his body against their legs and lifting up its head to be caressed. I’ve never seen a cat ask for love so blatantly. And everyone obliged. Even I snuck in a head stroke. This was not looking good.
Next morning I woke to the thought that the cat may have gone home. Nope. There it was still sitting on the front lanai, meowing pitifully. The subject of its sex came up in conversation often, but I don’t get close to animals and the others declined to check it out. Judy came over that day and confirmed it was a boy. “He was probably kicked out of his last house for spraying. He’s about the right age for that. You’ll need to get him neutered soon.” What? This isn’t my cat!
That day BG instructed Faye to put dry cat food and a flea collar into the grocery cart when I went shopping. Holy Cow, cat food is expensive!. That evening at Women’s Circle Dianne’s cat smelled me and sat by me. I don’t even like cats – why do they have to pick on me?
I was irritated about the whole business and when we went around the Circle for check-in I said why. Dianne assured me that I would come to love the cat, and not mind the $72/three month in Frontline flea prevention drops (she says flea collars don’t work), and the doctor appointments, and the cost of the neutering. “Wait!” I sputtered, “I haven’t decided we will keep the cat.”
“Doesn’t matter,” she said simply. “It has decided to keep you.” Damn cat.
The weekend brought more bold behavior. It dashed into the house when Jade took the laundry out to the carport. “No Puss!” BG was adamant about keeping the cat outside. More than once he mentioned the fowl lice that Henrietta brought into the carport and into his office upstairs. BG grabbed him and brought him back out to the porch, where he gave it a stern lecture on proper boundaries.
“BG, you’re allergic to cats. You already said you won’t pay to have it neutered. Why are you feeding and flea-collaring it?”
He paused and cocked his ear – “Listen. We’ve had no roosters or chickens in the yard for four days! With the cat marking his territory, we’ll be rid of them.”
With exasperation I said, “But we haven’t seen or heard from the Big White Rooster or the Big Brown one in a week or two.”
“Yes, but new roosters have taken their place over there,” motioning across the street. “They haven’t come over yet, but it’s just a matter of time. Now we have protection.” Sigh.
That night, Neko-chan puked all over the front lanai. Or maybe it was poop, but certainly not a well formed little turd. BG cleaned it up, but then put more food out. Yesterday, I woke with the thought that we really need to put a CAT FOUND poster up. Maybe his owner is worried about him. But if he isn’t claimed, and we wind up adopting him, I feel that we really should get him neutered.
I smiled as Neko-chan peered in through the screen on the front door and meowed. It really is a sweet kitty sound. But then I noticed the orangey smeared mess on the deck again. I walked out to the back lanai. This is not my cat. Even Faye has not been as affectionate with him since he started this phase of cat-hood.
I left for my volunteer job at St. James Thrift Store shaking my head. When I returned, I found a cat litter box on the lanai. He’s got the whole damn yard. Why does he need a specific spot? And how will he know the litter box’s purpose? Sure enough, a little while later I found him sleeping in it.
This morning as I sat on my back lanai with my coffee, I noticed Neko-chan wandering in the back yard. It’s the first time I’ve seen him off the front lanai except to get to the food dish on the walkway. It might have something to do with being a bit hungry. BG has taken to the twice a day feeding routine. He nosed around then meandered off. Twenty minutes later, a new rooster and his hen strut into the yard. Where is that cat now? Sigh.
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