The Love and Care of Feral Creatures

This cat-that-is-not-mine and I have had a week. We are almost six months in and she’s remained a feral, outside cat who just happens to call my front porch home base. I came from home from Louisiana this past weekend to find her limping fiercely, and upon further inspection, also missing a front tooth.

Since I figured the chances of another one of her cat friends taking her to the vet were negligible, I volunteered.  They gave her a few shots, including an antibiotic, and then sent us back on our way, but only after suggesting that I keep her inside for a few nights until the tiny cut on her leg healed.

I’m already certain she’s a dirty little liar.  She limps flagrantly in front of me. In fact, you’d think she didn’t have a back leg at all, and it had instead been replaced by some piece of al dente pasta. Back outside, however, when she doesn’t know I’m watching, she proves to be much more capable.

I have to follow this little con artist around like she’s committing workman’s compensation fraud.

Nevertheless, I let her in for two nights.  I waited until late, and around midnight I set a water dish in the corner and surrendered to bringing her inside. How difficult can this be?  I’ll fall asleep on the couch with her, toss her back outside around sunrise, and go spend the rest of the morning in my bed without the little swindler.

The first night was simple, and she slept the perfectly peaceful curled-up-in-an-upside-down-ball sleep that cats are capable of when they’re trying to sell you something.  The second night did not go so smoothly.

I rolled over at some point and she was no longer lying by my head.  I looked around and found her pacing, first in one corner, then under the table in the studio, then, just as I really came to my senses, to the center of my living room rug. 

The realization sunk in that I’d only set out some water.  There was no food bowl, but there also was no litter box.

In a fit of 3:00 am, half-awake gymnastics, I managed to slide over the coffee table, scoop her with both hands, and pivot for the door.  I understood the crisis.  She did not. 

She started yowling, and because she’s a cat, she legitimately had no idea why this was happening.  She was going to the bathroom when some wild man snatched her up and swung her towards the door.  Startling, yes, but not a clear enough indicator that she should cease the behavior.

So.

I found myself in the sudden possession of what I can only describe as a… poop gun. I was in control of it, directionally at least, but because I still had to find the key to get the door open, all I could do was try to aim her at the hardwood and away from anything cloth. It got messy before I managed to slide her out the door and onto the porch like a curling stone.

She has been hesitant around me since then, and why shouldn’t she?  We have two fundamentally different viewpoints of what went down.  She (a cat) was doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.  I (a human) think that relieving yourself on my living room carpet is grounds for immediate dismissal, regardless of species. 

There is a diametrical difference between how the two of us think a thing should happen and we don’t share enough vocabulary to reach a middle ground.  It’s obvious though, right? One of us is a civilized being and the other just shits all over everything.

Which is weirdly how most of us view opposing political parties and other beliefs…

The strangest part about it was that I instantly felt like I was right, and indignantly so.  This is how things work! How do you not know that, you stupid cat?

Then I think about how she doesn’t pay any taxes and there’s no punishment if she doesn’t have health insurance and she doesn’t have to register to hunt or stand in line for a driver’s license or deal with self-checkout lanes or know what TMZ is.

Not everything is a shit-gun. Sometimes it’s just a different way of doing things demonstrated by a creature I’m slowly growing to love.

But we’re definitely going to have to learn to communicate.

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