Friday, August 14, 2020

The Cat Who Devours

It's an odd thing courting a stray cat. Spartacus was so easy. I asked him to come inside and he did. This time I'm learning patience. Here's the story so far. This is the short version.

My husband likes to leave Freya's leftovers outside for any creature who needs it--birds, cats, whatever. He just leaves the dish under the patio table and in the morning, it's always gone. 

In the last week of July, we began to notice a black cat always came. As he became bolder, Dan got a good look at him. He was thin and had no collar, and was always hungry, so we made it a nightly thing to leave food out. 

I talked to our neighbors. Ladonna said he lived at the end of her street. Joyce said he lived across the street from us, in the green house three doors down. Hmmmm...Still we left food out. He seemed to need it.

One day, I was about to water the garden and when I opened the door, the black cat was standing on the porch. He looked eager and gave me a quiet little meow. So of course I went back inside and filled a plate for him. He must have been a bit desperate, because he had to pass Freya to get to our door. For her part, Freya didn't pay him much mind. Later that night, we had the screen door open, and he jumped right inside and asked again. 

If this cat belongs to someone, they can't be feeding him very well. He's skinny and devours everything we give him. He started searching around the house for more, so we gave him seconds. Now we leave the screen door open, and he just comes inside and explores the house while we fix him a dish of kibble and wet food mixed. 

We try not to get our hopes up. Maybe he DOES belong to someone. But like I said, he's skinny, scruffy,  dirty, scratched up,always super hungry and when he lifted his tail, we discovered he's an unfixed male. 

So we've named him. At first, I wanted to name him Hades. My husband wanted to name him Imhotep, or maybe Apophis. (Huge Stargate fan.) We had a small list going. I thought about his appetite, and watched him skulk out of our house in the dark, and it hit me. Grendel. Yes! He's the devourer who hunts in the dark and only comes inside to EAT. Dan reminds me that Grendel was an ugly beast. I remind him that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Grendel had a mother who loved him. (I'd like to be his Mom. I'm beast enough.)

I worried out loud on Facebook. My yard doesn't have many good places for a cat to hide from the weather. Someone suggested I make one from a Rubbermaid bin. I can tell you from experience, that doesn't work. After you cut any part of the plastic, it begins to rip, creating jagged edges, and it continues to rip, even after you tape it back up. Cold weather makes it snap into shards at the slightest touch. It's not that important to the story, but yeah, don't use a Rubbermaid bin for a homemade cat shelter. Anyway, we improvised. 

We have a shed. There's nothing valuable in it, just tomato cages, old pots and bits and pieces that should be tossed. We left the doors slightly ajar--just wide enough for a cat to sneak into. It's good because it retains warmth and it's a good wind break.

It worked! Dan told me yesterday that he saw Grendel peeking at him from the shed doors and Grendel came out to greet him. I checked for myself today, and sure enough, Grendel came out to greet me too. He lay down on the sidewalk and let me pet him a little bit. Then he followed me inside the house for a snack. 

I'm excited for the weirdest reason. After this last feeding, he roamed the house again, BUT this time, he used the upstairs litter box. Yay! What a wacky thing to be excited about. Now I understand what the big deal is for parents.

We're trying to give him space. He's already made it clear he's not ready to stay inside with us. We think that might change once it gets cold, there's still time. He and Freya seem to be okay. There's no growling or hissing. Once we can get him inside, and once he's comfortable, we'll get him to a vet and check for a microchip. He'll need shots. Eventually he'll have to get fixed. My worry now is that he'll get a cat pregnant, and we'll be on the hook for it even though he's not our cat yet. 

So, wish us luck. We promised ourselves that we would help a cat in need if ever another one came to us, and so we have. Whatever happens, we'll do what is best for Grendel. Not just in memory of Spartacus Jones, but because it's the right thing to do. We promise.

Sorry for the odd photo placement. I'm learning how to use Google Photos and Blogger changed too.

While you're here, check out Donna Milward, Author on Facebook and look for my contest.