Not My Cat was asleep, curled up on the cushion in the sunroom rocking chair. He had been there a couple of hours, settled in a few feet away from Molly, our beagle, sleeping in another chair, and Huey, our scruffy old terrier, napping on the sunroom couch.
Why do we call him Not My Cat? Because he’s not my cat. Really.
We don’t know whose cat he is. We just know he’s young, gray and white, and hangs out in our backyard a lot. Oh, and he walks right in when we open the sunroom door.
We figure he must belong to someone in the neighborhood because he’s tame and friendly. Too friendly, I guess; that’s how he keeps ending up in the house.
The Not My Cat mystery started on a cold, stormy night a week ago. Lightning was flashing and the thunder rolling. I opened the garage door to take the dogs out before the rain started, and a cat walked right into the garage. Molly went nuts over the invasion; little old Huey just wagged his tail.
I shooed the cat out and closed the door. Soon, the little fur ball was on the front porch. “Maybe he doesn’t have a home,” Jenny said.
That’s how it always starts at the Mitchell Home for Wayward Animals. It wasn’t long before we had gone out to pet him. We concluded he looked hungry. Jenny went to get the box of cat food and a bowl. Yes, we have cat food even though we don’t have a cat. Can you tell this has happened before?
The next morning, Not My Cat was at the front door when I got ready to leave for work. I put some food in the bowl on the porch.
Over the course of a week, the food bowl has moved to the back patio and the cat hasn’t missed many meals. Sometimes, he lolls around on the patio furniture, waiting for the sunroom door to open. Then in he comes.
The problem, of course, is Not My Cat is just that. There’s no shortage of cats who need homes, should we really want one. And we should have learned our lesson about feeding strays when we lived in Florence, Ala.
For a couple of months, Jenny fed a not-very-tame gray cat there that she and Joe nicknamed Sylvie. When she got ready to move to New Albany, she agonized about whether to just load up the cat and bring her. Surely the cat was homeless, she reasoned, because she spent so much time around our backyard.
Finally, our son Joe took the cat’s picture, and put up several “Is this your cat?” posters in the neighborhood. Within 30 minutes, a neighbor who lived behind us called to claim it. We had come within a couple of days of stealing our neighbor’s cat.
Now, the cat dilemma is happening again.
Why us? Do cats somehow sense that our cat died last year, and left a spot open in our home? Do they just latch onto us because they know we have kind hearts and a ready supply of pet food?
A stray dog showed up the other night, but we were pretty sure where he belonged. Even birds flock to our yard, now that we’ve found what to feed them. Maybe the Mitchell Wild Bird Buffet is what’s attracting cats to our house. And we thought it was us.
We need to find Not My Cat’s owner. And fast. Or else we’re “fixin’” to take him to the vet and bring him inside for good.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.