Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Book

For me, cats are like potato chips: I could never have just one.  Our current population has reached nine—seven indoor, one outdoor, and one in between.  Each with his or her own way of alternately melting your heart or driving you nuts. 

Most of these felines have been what my family refers to as “walk-ons”:  Cats who just show up one day and within a few weeks make it abundantly clear that they now live HERE.  As long as the Almighty chooses to send these hungry, tired, homeless fur-bags to my doorstep, I will contrive to feed, house and entertain them (because I truly believe our chief attraction to cats is our entertainment value…)

This is “Book.”  Shortly after we moved into this neighborhood twelve years ago, we noticed two black cats among the indigenous animal life.  We dubbed them “Book” and “End.”  Someone told me today that coyotes don’t eat black cats…maybe there’s some truth to that, since, a decade later,  both of these guys are still part of the neighborhood cast of characters.  We see “End” from time to time.  He’s wary, secretive and keeps to the shadows.  Book, however, is just….everybody’s cat.    

Book originally belonged to a family a couple of houses down, a family that moved away several years ago and left him behind.  He seemed to take this abandonment in stride.  He developed a talent for being friendly to any familiar human, so much so that the humans are more than happy to plunk plates of food down for him, or plump up cozy beds on their porches or in their garages.  I know of at least three families on the block who feed him, and make some claim of part ownership of him.  One family calls him “Sunny” and thinks he’s a female (he’s actually a neutered male—notice the notches on his left ear, indicating he’s been “fixed” at the local spay and neuter clinic.)

Well, Book isn’t getting any younger; twelve or thirteen years is often about all there is for an outdoor cat.  He’s gimpy and his eyes run and he sneezes a lot…but he doesn’t look ill.  His black coat, though shot with silver hairs here and there, is still glossy, and in the winter he puts on several pounds, laying on a layer of blubber, like a seal or a walrus, to insulate him from the cold.  For the past few years, I have numbered him among “my” feline family, because I’ve taken responsibility for making sure he is fed, dry, and INDOORS at night.  For a couple of winters, that meant locked inside my (barely) heated greenhouse for the night.  Since last year, it’s been the warmer, dryer garage. 

For the most part, he’s been a contented and docile senior citizen.  I think he knows it’s my aim to make his life more pleasant, and he is happy to hang around the yard, curl up on the chair on the greenhouse deck, or doze in the sun by the front door.  Our daily ritual is to “share” a cup of coffee on the deck in the morning.  I take my coffee out on the deck, and he comes and sits in my lap to be petted and made much of. And to liberally sprinkle black hairs over the top of my cup of joe.    

Though I consider Book “my” cat, I have never been quite sure if he thinks of me as “his” human.  He continues to divide his affection between several families on the block, and just when I think he has finally “moved in” for good and all, he’ll disappear for a day or two.  And when I’ve whipped myself into a frenzy of worry, he’ll saunter back under the fence with his gimpy, old-timer’s gait, with a look that says, “Hi, Lady!  Did you miss me?”

Tuesday morning, he did something that was so funny and so unusual…I think I’ll take it to mean he’s finally accepted me as HIS human (or one of them, anyway…)  I took my coffee out to the deck that morning…no Book.  It was the first nice morning after several days of rain, so I figured he was just out enjoying the dry.   I finished my coffee, took my cup inside, then went back out to do some work in the greenhouse. 

All at once I hear this god-awful yowling coming across the back yard.  It quickly registers as the noise a cat makes when it’s carrying something important in its mouth.  A toy.  A pair of socks.  A bird…  Sure enough, here comes Bookie, proudly bearing…something…between his teeth.  I can hardly bear to look, but first glance ascertains that it is NOT a bird.  Or a mouse, or any living creature.  Or anything that WAS living at one time.  It looks like…a piece of wood?

So I stand at the greenhouse door and call, “What have you got?”  He mounts the steps of the deck and drops his prize in the vicinity of my foot.  I lean in to get a closer look.  It’s…

A cookie.  A raspberry Newton, to be exact.

I have no idea where it came from.  And, at first, I was worried that it might be poisoned or something.  But he didn’t show any signs of illness…in fact, he was pretty damned pleased with himself and his treasure.  He dropped it, ate some, walked away from it, then came back and ate some more.  He left about a third of it…for ME.  I honestly think he brought it to go with my coffee.

(When he wasn’t looking, I picked up the pieces and dropped them in the trash…)

But, I think he likes me.  He really likes me! 




  1. If he brought you a cookie, I'd say he's clearly chosen you to be his person.

  2. Sweet. He was definitely calling you to share.

  3. yes. you are his person, his sweet raspberry newton person.

  4. oh goodness, look what google signed me in as, now that I mostly use wordpress, google somehow decided to use this other, rarely used, gmail account. lol