May 1, 2019

Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer


Putty is two-timing me.  Yeah, that adorable black and white cat pictured above.

This is the cat that has a warm house on our patio.  This is the cat I feed four times a day.  Or more.

How do I know?

Lately, Putty has been putting on weight.

At first, I thought he was just puffy-looking, growing more fur on that white belly to stay warm during the winter months.  But upon closer inspection, he just started looking heavier.

I feed him moderate servings of dry kibbles and wet food, but not enough for him to look chunky—though when he comes to our deck and presses his face against the glass of the door, he often receives an extra helping.  Still, he only comes around three times a week.  It is obvious that Putty is hitting up on other neighbors.

I wanted to know where he went.

Plan A:  The collar

I bought a neon pink collar and wrote on it with a marker: 'Who cares for this cat?' along with my cell phone number.  Getting the collar on him would be tricky because I didn't want to take a chance of getting bitten.  So, when he arrived on our deck, I slipped on a coat and garden gloves for protection.  Then, I set out a bowl of wet cat food.  While he ate, I snapped the collar around his neck, which is not as easy as it seems with a squirming cat and thick gloves.

Now, whoever feeds him will see the collar and may be curious to read the message.  I expected to hear from a neighbor in no time.  It was disappointing.  Nobody called. 

Then within a week, our little stray showed up on our deck without the collar.  I got the feeling he would not wear that gaudy pink.  He would not.  It's not in his color wheel.*

Plan B:  Surveillance

Even though the collar didn't work, I was still determined to see where Putty went after I fed him.  One day after he had a bowl of food, I watched him trot from our deck, cross the street and amble up the driveway directly across from our house.  And then he disappeared from sight.  I had no idea where he was headed, but the houses across from ours have dogs, so he probably wasn't going there.  I had a hunch he was going through backyards to get to Oak Creek Drive, one street over from our street.

I phoned Kate, a neighbor and cat-lover who lives on Oak Creek to ask her if she had seen a black and white cat.  She said, "You mean, Double Stuff?  Sure, I know him."  Kate explained she feeds him premium wet cat food and has a warm house for him.

But that's not all.  Her neighbor also feeds him.

And she had a heated home for him!

Plan C:  Share

Putty puts up with gets along with our cat Ozzie, as long as the screen door is closed.  They are, for the most part, buds.  But given the opportunity, Putty would bite Ozzie.  I know because it's happened before. 

When it's warm outside, Putty takes naps in the sun.  He shows no interest catching a bird even though we have several bird feeders on the deck.  He could care less about squirrels.  Putty has expensive, more refined taste.

Since I've fed Putty for over two years, he knows and trusts me.  He'll come up to the door when I call him and he'll let me pet his head.  When he hears my car pull into the driveway, he trots down the deck steps to greet me.  So, this makes me feel like Putty is MY cat.  But he is not.

The hardest thing for me is to get used to the fact that my stray strays.  Sometimes, I get a little jealous and offended.  I think:  what's wrong with what I'm serving today?  But I've come to realize that kind people welcome him.  They give him food and comfort.  They like him and treat him well.

I'm okay with sharing him with others.  My stray has figured out who to be nice to and what to do in order to be fed.  Putty, or should I say Double Stuff, knows what side his bread is buttered on.

* "I will not wear that gaudy orange.  I will not.  It's not in my color wheel"  Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

À la prochaine!