Our cat, the Feline Unit, is a talker. She follows us around the house demanding wet food, saying hello, and demanding wet food.
Sometimes we hear her having long, soulful conversations with neighborhood cats. These aren’t the hiss-fits you hear when there are too many tom’s circling a dumpster. These are friendly little cat chats. I know it’s more than one gentleman suitor because I recognize their different voices.
Saturday evening I was in the yard salvaging the last of the kale and killing cabbage worms.
Up sauntered the most bizarre-looking lion kitty. At first I thought this orange cat had been shaved. It has a giant mane of hair and a ball of hair at the end of its tail. The rest of its fur is thin.
I looked up this bizarre cat hairstyle online. It’s called cat alopecia, and can be caused by mites, fleas, thyroid problems and cat neurosis.
I ignored the cat when it talked to me, but I recognized its voice. This was probably my chance to hiss, stomp my feet or throw pebbles. Yet, I was having a nice moment with my kale.
The cat hid under the wheel of my boyfriend’s car, telling me very important things.
Then it happened. I bent down to pull a mallow weed and the cat was on my hand faster than a racing pig at the county fair. It rubbed three parts of its body onto my extended hand before I had a chance to retract my fist full of mallow.
I started walking, fast mind you, toward my door. It followed, all of its meek disposition suddenly gone.
By the time I called Mandy, the cat was at the screen door, talking loudly.
“Congratulations on your new cat,” Mandy said. “What are you going to name it.”
Here’s the thing. There is NO way I am adopting a new cat, no matter how much my heart feels for this poor, very, very desperate, strange looking creature. We can’t have two feline units in the house.
I walked closer to the door while talking to Mandy. The cat’s cry increased four decibels and Mandy howled with laughter.
I’m thinking I’ll box up the cat and give it to her as a wedding present.
I can see how my kind-hearted friends end up with 12 cats in their yard. Every creature needs food. Every kitty wants love. Next thing you know you’re buying cat food in bulk at Northern Star Mills and walking around with multiple colors of fur stuck to your black skirts.
Wednesday night my boyfriend and I sat at the kitchen table when we heard the familiar sound of the cat door and kibble being nibbled.
However, our cat has a bell and a collar that clinks on the rim of the metal bowl.
Sure enough, the lion kitty had walked into the laundry room and was happily chomping.
WHAT TO DO
I talked at length with Tracy Mohr, animal services manager at the Chico Animal Shelter. She said cats can have up to a two-mile roaming range. In all likelihood, this cat probably lives somewhere nearby. Cats often roam, she said. They might spend all day at one home, then spend the evening at another house begging for food and attention.
This makes sense, because I’ve been hearing this particular voice for a while. What’s new is actually seeing the cat. For all I know, it could have been been eating out of the laundry room for weeks.
My best bet, Mohr agreed, is to make my home inhospitable.
For the past 40 years society has trained people to take strays to the local animal shelter. Mohr said the reality is that only about 2 percent of lost cats are found this way. Most lost cats find their way home on their own, she said. The worst thing to do is to transport the cat to another part of town. Then the owner will never find their cat, she said.
This is a great time to make the pitch for having a microchip installed for pets. Mohr said I could bring the lion kitty down to the shelter to check if there is an owner nearby.