He had the right idea.
Cute balls of fluff are her purview.
Stray animals glom onto her as if she were some sort of Pied Piper. In fact, if it was up to her our house would be so crowded with unwanted cats and dogs we’d be forced to use the garage as the master bedroom.
That’s why he just as well could have asked, “What did Mom bring home now?”
A half-an-hour earlier, my wife woke me concerned about what appeared to be a stray cat. It was preventing her from taking our dog Rodney for his morning swing around the neighborhood. The cat, no more than a kitten really, was tailing them, and my wife feared it might get hit by a car. She wanted me to somehow distract the cat long enough for her and Rodney to get on their way.
I rubbed my eyes and dutifully did what I always do in a crisis — I reached for a snack.
In this case, I settled for a small bowl filled with a handful of our cat Skitty’s food. I set it outside, figuring breakfast was what the kitten wanted and was, in fact, desperate for.
I sat on our front stoop as the sun came up that morning watching that cat gobble down Skitty’s food. It was a very young, little male Tuxedo, a cat whose coat is black on top, contrasted with a white belly, chest and feet. And it was incredibly friendly.
I figured I was looking at a new family member. Our daughter and I even started arguing about what to call him.
She wanted Artemis because she’s enthusiastic about the Greek gods thanks to the Percy Jackson series of books. She’s a fangirl.
But I’ve been a Star Trek fanboy longer than she’s been a fangirl of anything. I wanted to name him Spot because that’s what Data called his cat on ST: The Next Generation.
I’m going to pretend I won (I didn’t) and, for the sake of clarity, use Spot as the cat’s name.
Spot spent the day hanging out at our house, hoovering up food and drink as if he were a journalist. (As a general rule, journalists don’t turn down free food, perhaps because we’re often one step away from being strays ourselves.)
I kept Spot’s belly full that day. I even briefly reintroduced him to Rodney, who was predictably overenthusiastic. The two seemed like they would eventually get along.
I wish I could say the same about our cat Skitty.
I had cautioned our daughter not to let Spot inside the house for fear of Skitty’s reaction. So of course, Spot somehow found a way in while I wasn’t looking. But at least our daughter had the presence of mind to quickly scoot Spot back outside before the cat fight escalated beyond Skitty’s maniacal hissing.
You’d think Skitty would feel some sympathy for a fellow feline down on its luck. After all, Skitty was looking at the vagabond life herself before being snatched by our daughter shortly after she was born beneath our neighbor’s ground-level deck.
She remained, however, steadfast in her meanness in the face of Spot’s amiable cuteness.
After his encounter with Skitty’s hostility and Rodney’s relentless inquisitiveness, I suspect Spot questioned the wisdom of sticking around our house. He disappeared that night and was gone for most of the next day.
My wife worried about that cat for a solid 24 hours, but she needn’t have. Spot was back in her arms Friday evening. And now he’s adopted our “Laundry Basket of Misfit Socks” as his refuge from Rodney and Skitty.
I’m not sure because Spot’s not saying, but I think I know what brought him back. While he was gone, he must have stumbled upon an article The Journal newspaper published last week. It was about the stray cat problem in our region, the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. According to the article, feral cats are cramming into shelters around here at twice the rate of dogs.
Given the choice, Spot has apparently decided that putting up with us is a much better option.