Spook, for the uninitiated, is one of the two ginger cats who’d turned up at my house at roughly the same time. Spook was the younger of the two and was ultimately the one who didn’t want to stick around. I had Buddy so that was okay, but the little guy was cute as most young cats are and I worried about him.
He’d show up every day for a couple of weeks, then we wouldn’t see him for several days. Sometimes it was due to storms; other times, he’d disappear because Buddy had chased him, he’d gotten chased by some neighbor kids, or the dogs got after him pretty good. Being a small and pretty submissive cat, he’s easy pickings for pretty much anything bigger.
When he first turned up at the house, he wasn’t wearing a collar. Then a couple days later, he wore one and a couple days after that he had a tag with a phone number and the name “Tigger.” The collar turned up on him about the same time as one showed up on Buddy (before Buddy adopted me), so we assumed one of the neighbors caught both of them and stuck collars on them. Who that might have been remains a mystery to this day. Regardless, Spook’s collar (and tag) disappeared and no collar ever appeared on him again.
I called him “Spook” because everything scared – spooked – him. Being talked to, touched, cars driving by, dogs barking, kids laughing/screaming, noise from the TV, everything. And that’s what we stuck with. Again, he didn’t stick around, so it was just a handle to refer to to differentiate between him and Buddy. What, I’m going to say ‘the small orange cat’ so as to not confuse him with Buddy?
Regardless of why he’d disappear, we’d worry: is he okay? Did the coyotes (foxes, hawks and/or eagles, raccoons, dogs, other cats) get him? Where does he go when he’s not here or coming by? And how, when it’s been raining pretty heavily, does he come here clean and dry? Shouldn’t a stray cat, exposed to the elements, be soaking wet?
We got some answers to these questions – and others.
One of our neighbors came by and asked us to take care of their cat while they went on vacation. Oh? You have a cat? The last pet they’d had was a gray tabby that had died some 20 years before; her husband swore ‘no more pets!’ at that time and that, we thought, was that.
Yes, we have a cat. He’s a small orange cat, has a white spot on his hindquarters. His name’s Tigger. He’s yours? We call him Spook. Well, his name is Tigger, she said.
She went on to explain that Spook, or Tigger, belonged to a family just around the corner from both of our houses. The girls (four of them) had this cat and the father brought home a dog (a Viszla mix). At first, the dog and Tigger got along but then the husband got another dog who chased Tigger and Tigger ran away.
He landed at the lady’s house. The girls, on seeing Spook/Tigger would try to grab him and hold him (picture Lenny in Of Mice and Men) and he’d run off, hiding from the girls. He’d run to the lady’s house, where he’d be safe from young, grasping hands, get food and enough attention to tide him over. And, every once in a while, he’d meander over to our house and get some food, sleep on our couch or the car in the garage (often next to Buddy, which ticked Buddy off after a while but less so near the end), then dash off to the lady’s house again.
So the little bugger effectively has two homes where he gets fed, ours and the lady’s. He no longer sleeps here, not since Buddy died. But he comes by almost daily since we fed him during the lady’s vacation. That means he gets 4 meals/day. He sticks around whenever the other couple isn’t at home, waiting till their porchlight or bedroom lights come on – then he’s gone, not to come back till . . just before I go to bed, scrounging more food to tide him over till the next morning.
When it all starts again: eating an early breakfast here, then hieing himself off home to get his second breakfast.
Now we know Spook’s full story: he’s a semi-stray cat who fled tortuous children and landed where he gets more food and enough attention to keep himself happy.