cats like warm places

FRIENDLY REMINDER

In some locations, the temperature is starting to drop (I actually had to scrape frost off my window the past 3 days I had work.) And cats  will sometimes crawl under and into cars and car engines for warmth.

So just knock on your hood, honk the horn if you have one, make a bit of noise to warn any cats that may have thought they found a warm bed and give them a chance to vacate before you turn on your car.

Rejuvenation

I live alone in a rental house with my cat. He’s a sprightly rescue tabby and, lame as it sounds, my best friend. I’m not too much of an extrovert and having a happy whiskered face to come home to every day is all I need in terms of interaction.

Except, one day, I came home to two happy whiskered faces.

Two happy cats came prancing to meet me after I closed the door one evening. It wasn’t scary or anything, just confusing. Maybe I left a window open, I thought, and a cold stray was just looking for a warm place. He did look remarkably like my cat, though, I noticed, but I could easily tell them apart - my Buddy was wearing a collar and this new tabby wasn’t. And if I looked closely, it seemed like our new friend was just a little smaller, maybe a bit more malnourished, cementing my thought that it was an errant stray.

I wouldn’t say they got along well, or poorly - they didn’t acknowledge each other at all. If it weren’t for the collar discrepancy and seeing them both when I came home, I would have thought there was still only one cat in my house; they were never in the same place at the same time, it seemed, and they might as well have not known the other one existed. I checked the house for an entry point, but all the windows were shut and locked, blinds drawn, the way I liked it. I shrugged it off as a mystery for the ages and made a mental note to possibly check my attic and basement for open vents or holes in the old siding.

The next few weeks, things got progressively more strange. I didn’t have the heart to push a malnourished stray cat out of my home, so I set out two bowls of cat food when I left for work every morning instead of one and resigned myself to double the litterbox duty. Except, only one dish of food ended up eaten, and no extra cleanup was necessary. I rationalized this as the new cat using the same entry point to get in and out during the day, get his own food, pee where he wanted in nature. This meant I most definitely HAD to check out the attic and basement.

After the first few days, Buddy… the only way I can put it is, Buddy aged. It started out looking to me like a cold, lethargic and snotty, but soon he was losing weight, losing control of his bladder, becoming unable to jump and play like your usual year-old cat would have. The stray, though, was getting bigger, and warmed up to me almost instantly. What I thought was Buddy eating all his own food and leaving the stray to hunt outside was actually the stray eating all the food I set out for him and Buddy eating nothing whatsoever. Obviously, I was concerned, nearly to the point of being worried sick, but being a single young adult with a minimum wage job, vet bills for sudden crippling cat diseases weren’t in my budget, and I resigned myself to making Buddy as comfortable as possible in the hopes he could rest up and get better, or at least die peacefully.

Sometime after the second week the stray arrived, I was lying awake in my bed staring at the ceiling, mulling over my anxieties, when I heard scratching in the ceiling. At first I was startled but then everything clicked, it was either the stray coming or going from his entry point or another unwanted animal using it to enter my house. I decided that since I was already wide awake, I was going to catch them in the act and seal it up for good. As I pulled down the ladder that lead to my attic, the scratching turned into a loud bumping, a little like footsteps - but there’s no way something big enough to have FOOTSTEPS could’ve been coming in through a cat-sized hole, so, frustrated, I figured whatever animal was making noise up there was now knocking things over. I became all the more determined and ascended the ladder.

I was prepared to see almost anything. A squirrel, another cat, the same cat, a raccoon, a possum, nearly anything. What I was not prepared to see was me.

Unmistakable. There I was, nude, pacing the attic. Except I looked a little under fed and skinny. My heart stopped in my throat and in that moment of utter panic, there was nothing that I could possibly do but scramble to get down and shut the attic door. And that’s exactly what I did.

Buddy died early in the morning. When the stray came to me to beg for pets, he was wearing Buddy’s collar. I didn’t put it on him. I don’t know how it got there. I couldn’t bring myself to touch him. I sat in the corner of my room on the floor, hugging my knees, listening to the footsteps wandering above me.

That was a few days ago. I’m so tired now. I haven’t eaten. I’m not hungry. He came down the attic ladder and explored the house, except he didn’t have to explore, he knew it was his and where everything was. He discovered my wardrobe as I watched and dressed himself. Combed his hair the same way I do. After the second day I was too scared and tired to leave the house, and without asking or any hesitation, he went to work for me.

Did you know, supposedly, the human body replaces all its cells every seven years? Every seven years, you’re a new you. Supposedly.

He wants the clothes I’m wearing. He doesn’t say so. The only times I hear him talk are to the stray cat, which he calls Buddy. And I know it isn’t a stray. But he wants these clothes. It’s been too long for me. I don’t doubt that when I try to fall asleep tonight, I will feel him taking them from me, and I won’t wake up.