Alarms and Incursions

My house is rated* for three cats. At the moment, there are two: Mr. Ferguson, a charming lanky Irish bad boy who grew in the back garden a few summers ago, and Nickel Catmium, a Bengal who went slumming one night from her breeder-raised life with an idiot family and ended up wintering in the parking lot of my gym. Cats find me.

*The rating system for houses and cats depends on how many cats can be safely sequestered from one another, or from necessary and thoughtless intruders like plumbers, without risk of escape. My old house has three floors and wonderfully complicated internal divisions; I am always expecting to stumble headfirst into Narnia or Elidor.

Last December I had a fleeting glimpse of a small cat who resembled nothing so much as a gray cloud or a spectral emanation, seated — lightly, as if barely bending the grass — in a yard around the corner, closer to the main road than I like to see cats. I spoke, bowed politely (I always do to strange cats) and moved on.

Three blizzards and the start of spring later, I followed an intensely excited Mr. Ferguson to the window yesterday and saw Little Cloud Cat gazing raptly up from under the holly bush. Fergie got in a fight or two when he was outside, but likes girls, so I assumed we had a girl visitor; I crept around the house to put out a little water and food, which I regard as a courtesy, and shot a couple of photos from a distance. Cat ambled off.

Later in the afternoon I tackled the continuing job of disassembling slaughtered shrubbery that is still prostrate from the double blizzard, and hola, there on my back porch was the gray cat again, not the least bit shy — head-butting me like a boxer sparring with my shins, and exhibiting peekaboo glimpses of what looked like full tomcat tackle. Fergie was rapt, boy or girl, and not at all hostile. The conversation that followed went on for most of an hour.

I eventually had to take evasive action to keep Torvald from following me inside. OK, by the end of the hour I was calling him Torvald. OK, I put out an old cat carrier under the porch with used sheets to make him a little cabana.

He’s not very hungry, and very friendly, so he probably has a family, but I have a real moral dilemma when it comes to the testicles. There are feral colonies around here and the ladies don’t need any more babydaddies complicating their lives.

My engineer, a fellow cat lover who supervises a household of nine counting the outside guests, says it’s rude to get someone else’s cat neutered. He has a point. But Torvald was back at ten-thirty, chatting away.

Maybe he’s just a friendly stray, in which case neutering him would be a mitzvah. Torvald, not the engineer.

Stay tuned.


9 thoughts on “Alarms and Incursions

  1. Maybe what Fergie is actually saying is “Let me out there, I’ll show him who’s the boss”.

    I am fascinated by the story. It reminds me of how Tosca, (Susan and CioCio’s mother) removed herself from my abode. She was adamant that she was to be the Only Cat and she took it very badly that I did not evict her daughters when they were weaned. She moved down the street to another apartment, where I used to see her taking the sun on a nice “Window Bed” the new Slaves had provided for her. I’m sure they were happy to adopt her, as when she was scouting for new digs she was still sporting her shaved tummy and fresh spaying scar.

    We will be waiting with bated breath for the development of this ongoing news event.

    • I felt I had to provide a less tense alternative to coverage of the health care debate.

      Fergie is not too interested in showing other cats who’s boss — he wants to be buddies with everyone and will only fuff to indicate the limits of what he’ll take if another cat tries to hassle him. He’s a big boy, so it’s effective. Of course, unless I went the whole nine yards with Torvald and took him by the vet, I wouldn’t feel safe about even a gradual introduction, but I can let this acquaintance prosper through the sun porch jalousies for a while.

  2. Frankly, anyone with an indoor-outdoor unneutered cat should be fined. Heavily. You’d be doing Torvald’s humans (if they exist) and the entire neighbourhood a favour if you got him de-nutted.

    The idea of CE as a friendly stray made me laugh out loud. 🙂

    • I agree with you on the neutering issue. I have yet to understand why the feral cat trap/neuter/release stuff this being done by people is a good idea. Yes, it means they will not be able to reproduce. But the feral cat, which has been shown to be a significant predator of small mammals and birds, once caught should be confined and found a new home or respectfully and kindly euthanized. Releasing a neutered cat does not stop them from predating until they die.

      • What’s the problem with them predating? Especially in urban areas that have plenty of mice and birds which are bothersome to the humans living there as they often wreak havoc in their homes and gardens. Better a few cat predators keeping things in check than using pesticides.

  3. To me, cats are sacred as no other animal is and I would have a hard time with that point of view — I know how much some people love birds and I can’t tell them not to feel that way, but to me they are just fungible feathered things that shit on my lawn furniture half an hour before I want to sit on it. Quite a few neuter-release advocates around here actually involve themselves with feral sanctuaries where there is a promising effort to relocate the cats to patches of semi-rural scrub where they can nonetheless have access to a group shelter and feeding stations. And one of them supports a small colony right behind the organic grocery I favor. That grocery has no rodent problems.

    • This is so true! When the new kitten came to live with me three weeks ago I thought I already had a name picked out for him … and the first time I used it I knew it wasn’t right.

      A day or two later his true name came to me … Loki, norse demi-god of chaos. Fits him to a tee.

  4. Pingback: Torvald, Again « Sixteen Tons

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