Whenever I go to the store and ask xtina
what she wants me to get, she always replies, "A kitten." Yesterday I complied.
A couple weeks ago, SPIBaseball
and I were walking from my apartment to a restaurant. About a block from home, we passed an apartment building with a fenced-in front garden, and a very friendly cat--a gorgeous tabby with a torn right ear--meowed at us from behind the fence. She came right over and demanded lots of petting and love. In fact, she was so friendly that I went into the building and asked the doorman whether anyone had lost a cat. He said she'd been living in the garden for a week, and he and some residents had been feeding her.
A neighbor popped out and said she'd tried to find someone to adopt the cat but no one would take her. In that entire building! She'd posted pictures to Facebook and emailed friends, with no luck. "Found cat" posters also had no effect.
It's December. December is a nasty time for kitties to be outside, even if they're in cozy gardens and people are feeding them.
I called J and got his approval to foster the cat if we could manage to coax her into a carrier. X's phone was dead, but I know her and kitties and was certain she would have no objection. So I ran home and got one of our carriers and a tin of wet food, and we managed to lure the cat out from behind the fence. She wouldn't go into the carrier on her own, though, and while I did actually manage to scruff her and pick her up, she squirmed away before I could quite get her into the bag. Once she'd run back into the garden she would not come out again, and we couldn't go in because the gate was locked. I left the carrier and my contact info with Chris the doorman and Marjorie the neighbor and asked them to call if they managed to snag the kitty.
Every couple of days I'd stop by; sometimes the cat was there, sometimes not. J got to meet her a time or two. It was wet and cold and we fretted, but Chris assured us she was still meowing every day to demand dinner. We emailed back and forth with Marjorie, giving her cat-catching tips and cheering on her efforts to regain the cat's trust.
Yesterday I went out to the store mid-afternoon, and on the way I spotted the cat. She had been snubbing me since the carrier incident, but now she was all friendly again. I noticed she'd lost weight and worried that she'd been pregnant and then had kittens. I gave her some pettings and made a mental note to get a tin of food for her at the store. "I'll be back in a few minutes," I promised her, since she looked very distraught that I was walking away. "I just need to go shopping first."
Just as I got to the cash register, my phone rang: it was Marjorie telling me she'd caught the cat! I juggled groceries and phone and promised to be right there. The awesome neighborhood pet store is on the way, so I stopped in and bought a litter pan and some litter, which I begged them to deliver even though it was outside their normal delivery hours. They were kind enough to agree; I think they were entertained by my excitement over acquiring a stray cat. Then I dashed to the building, where Chris led me down to the basement and handed me a carrier with a very, very loud cat in it. He looked a bit wistful--they'd gotten to be friends--and I assured him that he can come visit her anytime.
I walked home with the cat, running into our landlord on the way. Fortunately he doesn't mind us having cats, though since he lives in the apartment below ours, he was probably a bit concerned that the new occupant was going MEOW MEOW MEOW WOE MEOW very loudly and steadily. When I got in to our apartment, Sam and Java were likewise concerned.
I'd warned X--who told me "It took you long enough! I've been asking you to bring a cat home from the store for weeks
!"--so she had her room all set up as a cat sanctuary. We got the cat out of the carrier and in front of bowls of food and water. She mostly wanted to hide in the corner and say MEOW MEOW MEOW WOE MEOW a lot.
A minute later maryrobinette
arrived for our planned tea date, so she and I hung out in the living room and had tea while listening to intermittent faint meowing and reassuring Sam and Java that everything was okay; X stayed in her room to get a bit of work done and make friends with the new cat. Then the doorbell rang again with the litter and litter pan delivery and there was more bustling to get that set up, and it was all a very exciting evening.
Mary and I had a very nice chat despite the distractions, and after she headed out, X and I made a moderately successful split pea soup for dinner. Then we hung out in her room, sitting on chairs near the cat and giving her space to approach us. She briefly hid in the closet just to prove she could, but once she started to feel more secure about food and less freaked out, she came over and showed us how to pet her: head pettins yes, chin scritchins yes, rump no. She showed us her belly (and even let me rub it!), which made it abundantly clear that there were no nursing kittens hidden in the garden waiting desperately for mama cat to come home. We were very relieved. We tried getting her to play with the red dot and the feather-onna-stick, but she greeted them with disdain: "I've eaten REAL birds. What is this?" If she has a predator instinct, it's very well hidden. Domestication is clearly her destiny. And she loves people! When we left the room and then came back, she'd scold us for being gone.
Occasionally Sam or Java would try to talk to the new cat through the door. Her reaction was to go very still, neither threat-posturing nor fleeing. Later in the evening she wandered over toward the door, though she didn't quite approach it. Java and Sam seem much more curious than freaked out, and they're probably mostly annoyed about not being able to go into X's room, which is usually their sanctuary. (I caught some sort of ick from Boston friends and am home sick today, and the first thing I did was let Sam and Java come into my room and sleep on my bed with me all morning and into the afternoon, so they know they haven't been forgotten or abandoned. They're much calmer now than they were last night.) I think eventual introductions will go well, based on that, but we're going to take it very very slowly.
Between 5:30 p.m. yesterday when I brought her home and 3 a.m. when I went to bed, the new cat ate three tins' worth of wet food--as much food as Java and Sam jointly eat in a day. Today at 5 p.m. I checked on her and her dish was empty again. I know X fed her this morning before going to work, so that's four tins of food in 24 hours, which is astonishing. She looks pretty solid but it's just because her fur is short and thick; underneath it she's all skin and bones. She drools a bit when she's purring, which suggests a need for some dental work. Her torn ear-tip looks well healed but one never knows. I suspect she has not been spayed, though it'll be hard to know for sure until/unless she goes into heat. (I guess we could shave her belly and look for a scar.) She's polydactyl, which means we'll need to make sure her nails aren't growing in odd directions. She could also use a bath. My guess is that the first round of vet visits is going to be fairly expensive, but after that she'll be fine; she's a sturdy survivor. Impossible to know for sure how old she is, but my wild-ass guess is 2 or 3, though the way she's eating might indicate adolescence as well as starvation. She's a grey-brown tabby with tiger stripes and big eyes and giant paws and a stupendously poofy tail and a voice like a siren. We all love her already. I really hope she gets along well with the other cats and we can make her part of the family.
As for a name: Chris called her Bubbles, but... no. I suggested naming her after a Klingon warrior, since she has such a fierce battle cry; on the other hand, her real talent is for being charming and friendly, which is not such a Klingon warrior thing. It's surprisingly difficult to think of fictional characters whose main survival skill is being friendly to everyone. X suggested Sophie, which we both really like even though we haven't yet determined whether she's wise. We'll see what sticks. In the meantime, she's Tiger, Paws, Toes, Little Miss, Cutie, Gorgeous, Sugarlump, etc. She doesn't seem to care what we call her, as long as we don't call her late for dinner.
EDIT: My mother suggests Mitzy, since taking her in was a mitzvah. Awwww.
's Twitter feed for photos.