For a few weeks now we have noticed this cat in our neighborhood. We live in a town home community, and there is a field in the middle of it, we call it the quad. Well the community is very dog friendly, and while we do have a neighbor who has had the police on our porch several times for any dog barks, everyone else seems to be friendly and dog lovers. So around 530 and 6 when people get home from jobs you see lots of people out walking their beautiful and obedient dogs around. You wont see our dogs out there because they are insane and kind of like us, they cant keep their uniqueness, excitement, and anxiety under control in order to fit into society. Were too wild for that! It makes me sad to think that 1) everyone works all day and doesn’t get to spend time with their furry family members, and 2) we have a neighborhood full of houses of sleeping or bored dogs while we are at jobs we probably don’t even want to be at. This cat is obviously the only one living a free life.
This cat lays in the middle of the quad every day and ignores everyone and their dogs walking around, it just lays in the sun. Then there is another corner of the neighborhood where they haven’t built a house yet but will in the future, and at night, every night, that cat lays in that square of grass and sprawls out.
We first noticed the cat creeping around the bushes on that corner or laid out in the grass, because we walk our dogs at night. We can’t just let them out the back door because they might hear something and bark, and we will “get arrested” as I like to say- have the police on our doorstep for no reason again. Our dogs never notice the cat, they just keep walking along.
I kept seeing the cat and wondering if it belonged to anyone, and wondering if anyone else in the neighborhood was feeding it. I thought if I was friendly to the cat, or fed it, I might prevent it from finding its way home. I also was a little afraid to get involved with a stray cat, seeing as I’m not allowed to have more than the two pets that I have, but also think my dogs might be very startled and threatened if I brought it inside. They have a lot of special issues already…
I thought about how I used to have an outdoor dog growing up, and then we had an inside cat, Jellybean. I loved that cat so much. We each got a pet to take care of growing up. My brother got our dog, then I got our cat, and then my sister had multiple rabbits. I named that cat Jellybean, I think we got him around my birthday which is near Easter, and back then I loved the black Jellybeans because nobody else liked them and I thought there were just… different! I saw a home video recently where Jellybean was still small and adorable and we were playing with him and deciding what to name him, our only options at that point were black cat and burnt cat. We laughed at that and reminisced how when the parents weren’t home we would try to lure him onto the treadmill with a trail of potato chips… He was a fat cat when he got older. Those were great memories. I moved out of my house and left Jellybean behind for college in 2005. I saw Jellybean on holidays until he passed, bless his lil heart. He was a feisty little adventurer, always sneaking out the garage door to go get rowdy with the neighborhood street cats….such a rebel. Always had tons of sass and attitude. I loved that. This cat would purr while you were holding it, then randomly dig its claws into your chest and escape. ( I do the same thing with Jake ) I still have a scar from that. A little love mark. (Jake has some scars too… ) : )
I have briefly petted my mother in laws cats a few times around her house, but they are very calm and friendly to anyone, and other than that I have had no real interactions with cats since I went to college.
Well there was Biscuit- he showed up at me and a friends place in NODA, we weren’t sure if it was a stray, but we only had biscuits in the house to feed it (times were hard back then living solely out of dumpsters) and it was adorable. It came around every once in a while but we never knew when to expect it. Jake petted it and played with it with a flower, it was cute and that moment really made me like Jake a lot more. But I think Biscuit wasn’t feeling our limited food options and went back home because he didn’t stick around for long.
Maybe like two years before Biscuit, there was one time when Jake and I were becoming an exclusive “thing”, and he texted me to come over because he “had a surprise for me”. I am telling you, I got there and he had a baby kitten trapped in his kitchen the size of a gerbil! It was orange and precious and I thought to myself, If this boy has gotten me a kitten, I will stop hanging out with other guys and this is gonna be the real deal! But then I said, WHERE did you get this kitten!? As I was holding it, thinking it was mine, and he says, oh my brother found it, I am just watching it right now….. *bummer* Then he is getting texts on his phone and says “Oh I met this great woman at Petsmart just now, she was so nice and shes coming over” I’m like WHAT? what is going on? (there was a lot of confusion in the beginning, and sometimes there still is!) It’s entertaining to know that he took the kitty to Petsmart in his pocket to buy it supplies, and he randomly met a lady there, who later, showed up as he was telling me he met her, and she dropped off a catbox and food and beds and all kinds of good cat stuff! I was amazed. So Jakes brother had found the kitten outside in the rain outside his little quadplex where he lived, he kept the cat even though he was severely allergic and he mentioned the cat liked to sleep on his face ( I love these boys!) and later, Jake ended up moving into that quadplex, I went to a wilderness camp job, and Jake and his bro kept Nugget and “Kitty” there. How adorable. I love that memory. I also love that Nugget was the most adaptable dog ever. We lived with probably 15 different roommates together, and their poodles, chinchillas, and drunk boyfriends and high friends. Later Jakes brother moved to Chicago and Kitty went to live on his moms farm. Then I came back from the camp job and moved in with Jake, in the same quadplex where kitty was originally found. It was our first place together. The paint peeled off and fell on your head when you went to the bathroom. It was nice.
When I worked at that camp, there were always these golden eyes peaking through the woods in the pitch black nighttime, and I know some of them were cats, who would occasionally run through our platform tent at night, but sometimes I really didn’t know what was looking at me, and cats or not, it was creepy!
So other than these few brief cat interactions over the years, cats really haven’t been a part of my life. And I really thought I was an equal cat and dog person! But now after nearly a decade with Nugget by my side- he truly is my soulmate- and we also have had Bobo for 2 years, my parents have had 2 dogs since I moved out, and my sister has a dog.
Recently, I worked with a girl at Starbucks who loved cats, hedgehogs, tacos, and pizza. She was awesome. she showed me pictures of encouraging hedgehogs and inspirational cash cats when I was having a rough shift.
We became friends bonding on the struggles of never having money, our cynical perceptions of the stupidity of certain types of people, food, coffee, our interest in travel, and working in such a strange environment. When she first started working there, I found her to be absolutely delightful. and I told her this. I told her she was as pleasant and refreshing as a fresh homegrown cucumber straight out of the backyard garden. And she was. most of the time. but we all have our days. : ) I don’t know if I ever have those fresh cucumber moments myself… Especially not at work, you would be surprised the disturbing and offensive things that are said to us. You really would be shocked.
She awakened my love for cats again, and I didn’t know it until I saw this cat around my neighborhood. At first I was curious, like- hey what is that cat doing here? Then I found myself looking out the window, or looking around for it when we walked our dogs. Then I said to myself, I like cats. Yeah, I like cats! I told Jake at one point that we were getting a cat after we got married for my wedding present from him. He told me he was allergic and absolutely could not have a cat. But then over time I wised up.(At first I wrote ” I wisened.” apparently that’s not a word but I kinda like it!) I said- Didn’t you live with a cat with your brother? Yeah but it was rough on the allergies. Oh okay. But wait- Didn’t you have cats growing up? Yes. Okay… But didn’t you pet Biscuit? You did! that was one of the reasons I liked you back then! Yeah, but that was one time.
Then the moment came I had been waiting for. We were at Jake’s moms house for the holidays, and there he was- holding his moms cat in his arms and petting it and hugging it! I THOUGHT YOU WERE ALLERGIC! and he stuttered in his response/excuses. I took a picture on my phone as evidence and from that day forward I have not allowed any talk of allergies.
I texted my coworker, the catlover, and told her that I was gonna try to have an outside cat pet, and wanted to name it Taco in her honor. She told me to call out his name and if he came running it was a sign from God. So I told Jake tonight, that I had been watching him out the windows and I was going to name him Taco. When we started walking the dogs and turned the corner where he normally is, he came out from under a bush and I saw him. Taco! I whispered excitedly, Taco!!! And I am telling y’all, we had two weird dogs with us and this cat just started walking towards us! I was like NO WAY! And we had to keep walking to avoid our dogs seeing the cat, because it was 11 o’clock at night and we CANNOT have our dogs get excited or bark, we don’t want to get on our neighbors bad side again because things have cooled down and her house is up for sale : ) I prayed for that and it actually happened y’all!
So when we got further down the street I told Jake what my coworker had said about it being a sign from God and I said, oh yeah, it starts tonight, Tacos eating good tonight!
We walked the dogs down the street and back, and there was Taco, laying in the field like every night. Cats are so cool y’all, like I thought they would hide under bushes and stuff, but this cat is just sprawled out. No cares at all.
We put the dogs up, I went into our emergency stock in the pantry and got a can of pole caught tuna, put about a third of the can with some water into a little clear tupperware dish, and I brought it out to the field and approached Taco. I timidly walked up and set the food dish in the grass. It had stormed earlier and all the grass was wet but Taco was completely dry. Cats are so smart, seriously they are true survivors with serious life skills. Taco wasn’t startled or threatened at all, just rolled up onto its feet, walked over and started eating.
I watched it for a long time, and since I haven’t really looked at a cat in years, I just stared at its body and wondered if it was okay. It seemed really hungry, and the body looked skinny to me. Other than that the cat looked okay. I wondered if I should call someone to get the cat, what if its ill, what if its not well, what if just leaving it out here is neglectful? Who do you call and what do they do? People save cats all the time, I’m a grown adult how do I not know what to do? I started praying for the cat and I felt like God said, relax, this is what Taco needs right now.
So I chilled out and enjoyed my time with Taco. I loved watching (him/her?) eat. I had forgotten how cats eat! Kind of slow and small bites. I had forgotten how cats really looked. Although it was hungry it was really beautiful. It kept taking breaks from eating to sit and stare into my eyes. It was weird, but I liked it. It was like it was saying thank you, and hello, and mmmmm. It was like, taking the meal in courses and really appreciating it. So fancy.
I said, Taco, I’m gonna start coming out here every night and feeding you right here okay? And it rubbed up against my leg. I said I wasn’t going to pet it because I had googled what to feed a stray cat before I got the can of tuna, just to make sure we didn’t have anything better I could give it ( I learned that cats need twice as much protein as dogs) and I had also read that stray cats can have diseases. So I wasn’t going to pet it, but it just stared into my eyes until I did. I reached down and gently stroked two fingers on its head and said I love you Taco. and Taco instantly started purring. This cat had the biggest prettiest eyes! My heart is so full y’all. I can’t sleep because I’m excited to see Taco tomorrow!
*I will try to update with pictures : )
Goodnight/Good morning -S
UPDATE WITH ADORABLE PICTURES!