About the time that Buddy, the current incumbent cat, wiggled (sneaked, maneuvered, wormed, or charmed) his way into my life, he was running with another orange cat. That other cat was really nervous, spooky really, so the name was a natural. Where Buddy is old, Spook is young; where Buddy is long and thin, Spook is short and stocky. Some health issues afflict Buddy, but Spook seemed healthy. My lap is not safe around Buddy; sit for even a few minutes and Buddy’s trying to climb onto/into it. Spook has trust issues and doesn’t even like being petted, not a little bit. Buddy is a light orange with lots of white, kind of like he’s wearing an orange tuxedo and has green eyes. Spook is mostly dark orange, has one large white swatch on his right flank and his eyes are a piercing yellow.
When Buddy wiggled (sneaked, maneuvered, wormed, or charmed) his way his way into the house I would have been willing to take Spook in too but it seemed that he was adopted elsewhere – he simply stopped coming around but was hanging out around another house. He came by again a couple more times, and had a collar with a tag, and the tag had a name (“Tigger”) and a phone number. I thought he’d been adopted and was glad. He was too young to be left to go feral and had a kind of sweet and innocent look about him that I thought would lead to a long, happy, healthy life with someone or a family.
But then he started coming by again. His collar had been replaced with a generic flea collar and the tag was not on the collar. The voracious appetite he showed before was even more evident when he sneaked into the house and scarfed Buddy’s food. ‘Scarf’ is the only way to describe it: he’d come in, circle around the bowl so that he could see outside and it would be harder to sneak up on him, then he’d lower his head towards the bowl and go to gobbling down huge amounts of food. My mother, who lives with us, took to feeding him canned food which he didn’t seem to eat so much as inhale.
It seemed that he hadn’t been adopted, at least so far as his eating was concerned: he ate way too much for that to be a mere snack, and the way he circled the bowl showed some stray/feral savvy that a house cat wouldn’t really have (at least none of my other cats had ever done that, and I’ve had at least 1 cat in the house for the last 30+ years). So we started putting 2 bowls out, one for Spook and one for Buddy – Buddy refused to eat after Spook had, so separate bowls proved necessary.
Then one night we had a storm, a pretty bad one, and the weather was cold (for our part of the US). Spook came trotting in, soaking wet, ate his share of food, then trotted around the house a bit, investigated the garage, then found a spot on the couch, curled up and slept. He repeated this for the next few nights, too. We locked him in without him complaining (Buddy sometimes charges to the door when he sees it closing – so long as he doesn’t see it close, he’s okay being shut in). He’d charge out during the day, go heaven knows where, then trot on back at night and curl up again.
One night, though, he didn’t return. Nor the next night or the next. I feared the worst.
Then he showed up again. Trotted right in, ate a little bit of food, went into the garage, walked around, came back in, found his spot on the couch, and went to sleep.
Had he come back? It was cold again that night (after a brief heatwave). Rain was forecast, and the temperatures were supposed to drop, drastically (on the order of 15-20 degrees). I was, honestly, kind of happy about it: here is, by all appearances, a young, healthy cat who wanted to be around but was pretty self-reliant. And there wouldn’t be any issues about who’d get my lap because Spook doesn’t want/need/demand the kind of attention Buddy does.
The next night, colder with fog. The kind of fog that is heavy and wet, and seeps deep into the bones. The kind where you literally cannot see your hand in front of your face, and the light from streetlamps refracts heavily, diffuse into the night.
No fog last night, but still lower temps, and rain. It’s raining again as I write this.
And still no Spook.
I don’t know what’s going to become of Spook. I don’t know whether he’s going to adopt us, whether we’re a way station that’s open when he’s tired and doesn’t want to risk crossing the street to get to his ‘real’ home, or if we’re just a convenient place to get some extra food to fatten up for the winter.
I don’t know and it’s frustrating and kind of worrisome. Though we think of our cats as ferocious hunters, when you live near canyons they’re not hunters, canyons that have not only rabbits and squirrels, but also foxes and enough trees for owls to nest in, cats are the hunted. They’re prey animals.
Spook deserves better. But there’s not a blasted thing that I can do about it.
The door’s open. I just hope he walks through.