A Tale of Two Kitties

Fair warning: If you don’t want to read a cat post, turn back now.

Meet Tigger:
Tigger is a frequent visitor to the backyard lately, somewhat to the chagrin of the resident queen, Molly the Cat:

Tigger is outgoing, inquisitive, trusting and playful. He likes to par-tay. Molly, on the other hand, is reserved. Her idea of a good time is hiding in a bush, spying on the backyard. She can do this all day, even if nobody’s there.

We have a dilemna. Tigger doesn’t live here. Tigger isn’t our cat. But Tigger never goes home.

Home is two doors down. We don’t really know the people who live there, but once when Tigger got trapped in our house by a door that blew shut, I caught him and read his little tag. “Tigger,” it said, and there was a phone number.

We called the number, because Tigger was acting like a lost cat, and we thought we’d try to help, and that’s how we found out he lived so close. The woman who answered was not concerned about the little guy, and indeed had not been missing him. She even volunteered that her husband didn’t like Tigger. Seems his heart had been stolen by a black cat who had recently died a violent traffic-related death. She told us that Tigger was not cuddly. Didn’t like people. Couldn’t stand to be picked up or petted. Always ran when he saw people coming.

We were pretty surprised, because this was exactly the opposite of what we saw. He loved to be with people, couldn’t get enough petting, always wanted to play. And he’s the cutest darned thing. At first he had dry, brittle fur, and he scratched a lot, even though he didn’t have fleas. And when the lady on the phone told us he was a year old, we were horrified, because he was the size of a six-month-old kitten. We discovered that Tigger had a brother, Bootsie, who was the alpha cat and ate most of the food. These are stupid names, aren’t they? I had nothing to do with them.

So we fed him. Not much at first, just a few bites here and there, but good quality stuff. Anyone who’s ever fed a stray cat knows where this is going, and over the course of six weeks, that’s exactly where it went. Tigger hung around more and more, and eventually he had a feeding schedule, just like Molly the Cat, although Tigger never gets to come in the house, which pleases M and frustrates T.

He thrived on the food (and attention) he got from us. His coat got shiny and luxuriant, and he gained a couple of pounds. Every now and then Bootsie would show up. Tigger obviously idolizes his big brother, but even in our yard Bootsie eats all the food, and Tigger quietly defers. In fact, it was after watching this deference once that I started feeding Tigger regular meals. I figured he just couldn’t get close enough to the food back home.

But today Miss B (Mrs. Jones) had another talk with the lady two doors down. She came looking for Tigger, and she found him at our house. She said she hadn’t seen him for two weeks.

Two weeks! Molly the Cat was a raggedy unattractive little stray when she came to us seven years ago, and to this day she’s kind of ornery and bitey, but if she went missing even for one day I would be all over the neighborhood looking for her. Molly the Cat is in the house for bed every night or I am out searching until I find her. And these people can ignore such a cutie-pie for two weeks?

Miss B and I have concluded that these people are not good cat stewards. They have a bad attitude toward Tigger, they don’t really know him at all, they don’t seem to be feeding him very well (witness his new shiny coat) and it took them two weeks to come looking for him.

And now they’d like us to stop feeding him, so he will stop coming to visit. Personally, I suspect he’ll continue to visit no matter what we do. He visited for weeks before we ever gave him a snack. But, hoo boy it will be hard to stop feeding him, now that he has come to expect it. He will give me that expectant look, and he won’t know what’s going on when I fail to come across with the goodies.

Our neighbor has hinted that if we like him so much maybe we should just keep him. But what about Molly the Cat? She hates him (she hates all visitors, human and animal), and she precipitates daily screaming confrontations with him (even though he is only mildly interested in her – they are both fixed). Then there’s the issue of Tigger’s big brother, playmate and role model, Bootsie. Would it be right to separate them? Plus, you know it’s easy to shoot off your mouth and say “Why don’t you just take him?” but if we said “Yeah, we want him,” I don’t know how she would react.

Tonight’s the first night in a month that Tigger won’t get any food here. He’s lounging on the back stoop right now, waiting for a late-night snack. Instead he will get a door closed gently in his face. I’ll try to comply with his owner’s wishes, but if I see him getting scrawny again, and his fur turning scruffy and scratchy, I don’t know how I’ll take it.

What do you think I should do? Cut off all food? Claim him as ours? Buy an RV and hit the road for two years? Or feed him surreptitiously, all the while claiming I am not feeding him?

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11 Replies to “A Tale of Two Kitties”

  1. I would feed him and deny it. Pure honesty takes a backseat to alleviating suffering in my book.

    Or I would adopt him. Molly would adjust eventually, and Tigger would surely wander to his original home to vist Bootsie.

    Noah was very very upset when we got Luna, but now they are the very best of friends, and Noah has lost his big, lazy-cat belly because of their kitty cat games.

  2. Tricky, but I would feed him and deny it too, I don’t like his real owners they don’t deserve him. But you just can’t ‘close the door gently in his face’, that would be tragic!

  3. I see you changed the title. Next thing you know you won’t wont to say title because it has a nasty word in it. Good luck with your newly virtuous approach to life! Us crazy bastards are going to keep saying “Shit Piss Fuck!” until they come get me and carry me away. you knos they? Them? Those people?

  4. Something very similar happened to me several years ago. The neighbor’s cat repeatedly escaped from upstairs and begged to come in to our apartment. Eventually, his caretakers got tired of fetching him and asked us if we wanted him. However, it wasn’t the food he was after when he begged to be let in to our place. He was looking for an atmostphere more akin to his soul. You see, his original roommates/caretakers were into heavy metal music. That wouldn’t do. Atticus was a totally cool cat. He liked the classics like Monk and Coltrane.

    The point is, cats choose us; we don’t choose them.

  5. Tigger is probably drawn to you and Miss B (Mrs. Jones) because you’re nicer people. Cats know who’s nice and not so nice. Cats aren’t like dogs, who will stick to whichever human they’re accustomed to. And you can’t change the motivation for Tigger to seek better people.

    But maybe you could comply with the neighbors’ request in a way that’s morally acceptable way to you by finding out what they feed Tigger, and then feed him small amounts of the same thing.

    OR you could mail them a dozen cans of the stuff Tigger seems to like at your house, and then you could feed him the crap they used to feed him. (Mail the food with delivery confirmation, so that you can deliver a subtle insult.)

    That way you can continue to feed Tigger without worry that he is suffering from food deprivation, and if he continues to drop by for food, you can use that fact to suggest to the neighbors that THEY are the problem, not the food.

    Once the neighbors understand that THEY are the problem — that the problem is not the superior food you serve, but in their ‘tude — they will look deep into their souls and become better people. Tigger will be happy and warm and home, and he will not need to roam.

    This is what the U.N. might do and expect as far as an outcome from half-hearted assistance.

    In reality, though, we know that nearly all neighbors are stupid, inconsiderate boors who will never learn anything. My own neighbors, of course, do not have this opinion.

    Your neighbors, when confronted by the results of this experiment, will probably react in some unforeseen way, such as a lawyer’s letter telling you not to feed their cat.

    At that point, you could capture Tigger and take him to the animal shelter. Don’t tell the neighbors, unless they ask. If they ask and wonder why you did that, tell them you did it because you had no choice: It’s THEIR fault; you had to show Tigger what THEY wanted.

    If the neighbors don’t claim Tigger in three days, or whatever the deadline is, then you are legally allowed to take ownership.

    At that point, you take ownership, put a new tag on him, change his name, and buy your own lawyer’s letter to tell the neighbors not to feed Piglet. Yes, you name him Piglet!

    Maybe at this point the neighbors will give up.

    Of course, the best solution would be for the nabes to feel grateful that Tigger has other friends and safe places to go, away from traffic and danger. But people like that are prideful and mired in distrust and resentment, and ultimately the battle must be fought to military victory.

  6. I would definitely adopt him. He sure is cute. And he seems to need love and attention as well as food. He needs conscientious caregivers like you and your wife!

    I, too, think that Molly might adjust to it. She’s already sharing her backyard w/o too much of a fuss…or is she? Some kitties “match up” and some don’t. But, I think it would be worth a try.

    In my humble opinion, the neighbors don’t deserve the cats they own.

  7. i’m not even a cat person and i say feed him and deny it. (my relationship with cats is actually sort of entertaining–i really am NOT a cat person, but I can’t tell you how many times i’ve gone to someone’s house and the cat(s) in residence climb on me or sit on me or sleep with me or whatever, and the owner says, “s/he doesn’t do that with strangers.” go figure.)

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