Thursday, July 9, 2009


The tabby adopted us gradually. The latest Secret Headquarters has a cat door, so it was no surprise that at least a few li'l folks around the neighborhood use the Secret Headquarters as a Midnight Snack Bar. Only one was brave enough to raid the food bowls while the People were still awake.

Every now and then we'd catch a dark and tawny glimpse of our little raider. At first, any eye contact, the slightest movement, and the little stranger was gone. By slow, painful degrees, he learned that no one here meant him any harm. He also learned that breakfast is a fine meal for Midge and Butler, and that three dishes could go out as easily as two.

Before I knew it, he was sleeping in the house at night. One morning, bribed with fresh fish, he let me pet him. For maybe three seconds.

Did he have a home? Did anyone miss him? If he didn't have another family, where did he go when he left? Was I taking in a stray or stealing someone's beloved pet? I gave the little fellah the freedom of the house, long as he played nice with the others. As it happened, he was pretty mellow and played well with others. (Not 'played' the way Butler does-- I once saw him scare the hell out of a German Shepherd-- but you know, nicely.)

We got used to having the little guy around. Still not officially part of the household, he didn't have a name. I called him Tabby Cat, Buddy, Little Man.

One night he didn't show up for bedtime. The next morning, he wasn't at breakfast. No sign of him all the next day. I told myself he'd gone back to his 'other family', that it was just as well we hadn't named him anyway.

It was cold that night, the rain like ice. I heard the cat flap and ran to open the lounge door. Nothing. I moved further down the dark hallway. Wet fur brushed my leg in passing. My little buddy was home.

And limping. His right front paw was in bad shape, and one side of his face was covered in blood. He'd been hit by a car. I don't know how far he traveled to make it back to the house, but he curled up in the cat bed in front of the fire and passed out. I stroked his flank and prayed he'd live through the night.

I knew then he was our cat. That this really was his home.

The next morning, the receptionist at the vet's asked for his name. For the first time, I had an answer.

"His name is Buddy."

Update: Buddy is well on the mend, now only favoring his paw when he wants an extra helping of wet food or a warm lap made available. That's right-- he's gone from spooking at every movement to deciding that laps are great places to sit!


Sidney said...

Ah, the felines, they are our brothers.

Barbara Martin said...

That's quite the feat for a stray cat to decide where his real home is and return to it when injured. Wonderful story, Steve.

writtenwyrdd said...

Awww! I'm glad Buddy's on the mend.

I adopted a stray mom cat and her kittens once. She wanted to come inside to live but I couldn't let her. Fortunately a vet moved in next door and took over cat duties when I moved.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great story. I can see that little warrior limping his way home through the cold, the thought of a warm fire in his noggin. Got you a fighter there.

Angie said...

Decent way to acquire a cat. [nod] I'll bet Buddy's happy to have you all; if he did have a family, he obviously preferred you folks and there was probably a reason for that.

One of ours, unimaginatively named "Panther" by the neighborhood kids, was a stray who ended up with us because the box said kids (including my little brother) had set up for him was in our yard and none of the other parents were willing to take him in when it became a matter of regular feeding and such. He was a great cat, lived a long time stalking through the neighborhood, and took over his new territory without much trouble when we moved.

Another similarity:

now only favoring his paw when he wants an extra helping of wet food or a warm lap made available.

When he was a few years old, Panther got an injured paw too. The vet said it looked like a small bullet wound; it was shortly after Christmas and we figured one of the jerkwad kids from the neighborhood behind the back fence got a new BB gun or something. :/ Anyway, Pan was limping all over the place and getting lots of pets and scritchies and treats for it. This went on for over a month. One day, I was with some friends and we pulled up to the house in a friend's car. Pan was streaking across the lawn doing about Mach 3, when suddenly he saw us. Screeching halt, and back to limp, limp, limp.... LOL! Tricksy brat had definitely figured out which side of his bread had liver paste on it. :D


Lana Gramlich said...

This post almost made me cry--I'm glad Buddy's on the mend. Years ago I went through something similar. I spent a year taming up mom's feral cat (she wasn't a cat person, had inhereted a kitten from a friend who'd died, & would just throw food out for it.) He turned out to be one of the best people I've ever known & although he died of cancer some years ago, I treasure the love he brought to my life.
Gads...I AM going to cry...

cs harris said...

Smart AND lucky cat. Thanks for bringing a smile to my heart.

Having seen stray cats that I told myself weren't mine so I wasn't going to give them a "proper" name end up going through life with names like Mr. Fussy, Missy, and B.C. (Black Cat), I've decided that from now on they get proper names, whether they stick around or not!

Give Buddy a little pet for me.

SQT said...

Awww, he chose you! I can't think of a better way to acquire a cat. We adopted one a few months ago and I love having her around. Glad to hear Buddy is on the mend. Great story,

Shauna Roberts said...

That cat has good taste in owners. Glad he's getting better.