Felis catus

2021 December 19

On the evening of December 9, 2021, Sam and I were sitting in the living room reading our books, when I heard a noise from outside. “What’s that?” I said. “Is it the neighbor’s kids?” Sam listened a bit, and said “No, I think it’s a cat!” So we both immediately looked for our cat, and there she was, coming across the room looking intently at the back door with her tail like a bottle-brush. And then we heard the cat crying again, and it wasn’t her! So Sam went to the back door, opened it, and saw a startled cat suddenly dash off into the black locust stand beside the house. Now, by this point, it was dark and we already had close to a foot of snow on the ground, so it wasn’t really practical to pursue the cat into the brush. So we put out a bowl of food for it so it would hang around until we could come up with a plan.

The next day, Sandy went out and borrowed a cat-sized Havahart live-catch trap from a friend. She baited it with tuna, put it out by the back door with a blanket over it . . . and an hour later, we had acquired a cat.

She was not terribly happy about being in the trap, but once calmed down she turned out to be a rather affectionate cat, wanting to be petted pretty constantly. While being picked up is not her most favorite thing, she is certainly willing to tolerate it, and is definitely fine with being a lap-cat.

So, we made an appointment to take her to the vet for a checkup before letting her get in contact with our existing cat. The vet said she was in perfectly good health, and was about three years old. The vet also explained about her ear: the tip of the right ear is clipped to show that she has been spayed/neutered. And in fact, this very vet office had done the spaying in her case, based on a tattoo that she had been given at the time. However, it was not a numbered tattoo, and so there is no way to connect up with records to see where she came from. She also doesn’t have a chip. We did check to see if anyone was missing a ginger tabby cat, but it has been a couple of weeks now and there’s no sign.

The vet says that she most likely was in a “pet hoarding” situation, where somebody has way too many cats and they just let them come and go between the house and the outdoors. When the local humane society finds cases like that, and the cats are just numerous, not mistreated, then they try to persuade the owners to at least have the cats spayed to keep them from having a population explosion. The clipped ear-tips makes it easier to keep track of which ones have been spayed already when there are a lot of cats about.

As for how we ended up with this cat, who knows? Maybe she was just in the habit of wandering far from home, and got lost in the woods until she found our house. Maybe something happened to her owner, and they were no longer able to keep feeding her and she wandered off. Maybe someone actively took her out and dumped her in our yard to get rid of her. At this point, there is no real way of knowing. In any case, she wasn’t abused, and I think she’s adapting to our house OK.

Which isn’t to say that our original cat is 100% OK with this.

The new cat seems to be interested in our original cat, but our original cat was not so keen. When the new cat gets too close, there is growling and bushy tails almost immediately, often followed by hissing and a brief chase. No bloodshed, though. And they seem to be getting better together. Last night Sandy had a ‘treats party’ with some “Friskies Party Mix” and some catnip. This lured them within a couple of feet of each other with minimal growling and no hissing. And last night, Sam says she had one cat on her stomach and the other next to her feet, without it turning into a combat situation. Progress!

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