Two nights ago, it is 10 o'clock at night; I've just changed into my pajamas and there is a knock at the door. Gregory and I look at each other - shocked - because well, no one knocks on our door ever! (Except when we order pizza, of course.)
I answer to find a random girl on our porch, introducing herself and mumbling something about a black cat they've been feeding, her cousin wanting it and do we know who it belongs to? Why yes, I reply, it's our cat Pockles.
He's an outdoor cat who is virtually impossible to keep inside and has made his way into many of our neighbors' yards. Pockles always returns and seems to be smart enough to avoid the two busy roads near our house. If he doesn't make it back before we go to sleep, Gregory usually props open the garage door and he spends the night there. Pockles loves to hunt and chase all sorts of animals - which is part of the reason we try to keep him indoors. We have found many a mole, bird, mouse and rabbit shredded to bits in our yard. The other morning, we watched him chase a chipmunk halfway up a tree.
It's in his blood. He's a savage. But we try to avoid the unnecessary rodent bloodshed and do our best to block his constant lunges out the front door. He's busted through screens and meow-howls until it drives us crazy and we have to set him free. I thought his hunting was our biggest concern with Pockles, the outdoor kitty. Now I have to worry about cat-nabbing, pot-smoking neighbors!
This girl who had knocked on our door was inquiring whether we wanted our own cat back. She had been feeding Pockles for God knows how long and started to delude herself that he was homeless. First of all, he is quite large and well-fed. Secondly, he is super friendly. Neither of those qualities are very prevalent in feral, abandoned adult cats. Here's a lesson in animal behavior: if you feed an animal, it's going to come back to that same person or spot regardless of whether it is being fed somewhere else. It doesn't love you or need you, it's just following the gravy train.
Apparently our neighbor is one of those (how do I put this?) annoyingly over-concerned with animal welfare know-it-alls. I care about animals too. That's why all of our pets are from shelters and I'll do my part to get strays off the street. But I also mind my own business and know the difference between a sick and healthy cat. She kept asking: do you want him? Does he have a place to sleep at night? Is the cat spayed or neutered? Yes, yes and YES! Thanks for the unnecessary public service announcement. These are your concerns on a summer night in June when a fat cat slouches into your yard for a snack?
I walk over to this girl's house, right around the corner (our backyards border each other) and they have Pockles shut in the garage. Gee, wonder why he won't go home! Oh yeah, because he's locked in a garage. I have to freaking ID him through the window to say that yes, in fact, he is my cat.
Then the door was lifted...like I'd been granted access to deliquent cat prison. Pockles makes a run for it and disappears into the night. Then I am blasted in the face with the stench of cigarettes and pot. Honestly, the smell of cigarettes was more offensive and I understood a little bit of their moronic behavior. They had invited Pockles over for some munchies and marijuana and then started to convince themselves that he was a stray. I will admit that our cat doesn't have a collar on... but that's because he manages to rip them off every time we try. He has a microchip and that's the best we can do other than put him in a harness that might drive him insane.
I can only be thankful that this girl had more sense than her boyfriend and cousin, or whoever they were. The one kid stormed off, angry that he couldn't have the cat, and apparently he had driven from another neighborhood with the intent of taking Pockles home with him. We would have never known what happened to him! Ayla's little kitty, that was given to her after her 2nd birthday, would have just disappeared forever.
The whole situation was so surreal and weird that I just said goodnight and walked home. The girl apologized for bothering us, but not really for being so stupid about the cat in the first place. It wasn't until later that I started to ask myself the obvious questions. How long had they kept him locked in the garage? Why at 10 o'clock did she start knocking on doors? Why do you think it's a good idea to feed a healthy, well cared for animal? A dog would have been one thing: but cats don't give a f*%k about their owners.
Pockles was born outside (my mother found him as a kitten, alone, alongside a road. DUH! That's when you take it upon yourself to save an animal) and will always want to be outside. Both Gregory and I asked this girl to stop feeding Pockles and can only hope they don't get weird about this. In the past two days, he has run outside numerous times and won't come back until he's damn ready. It's just how he rolls.
*** title of this post inspired by Abby McTiernan***