I never thought I would grow up to be a Cat Daddy, so that’s one more thing I was wrong about.
After my retirement, cats started arriving as frequently as Social Security checks. Some briefly, but others liked the amenities and decided to hang. I am up to three cats, which is manageable, but I worry that they won’t stop coming, and I will have to eat cat food with them or start a GoFundUs page.
The problem with cats is there isn’t much return on the investment. It is all about the cat. They eat and sleep and when the mood is right permit you to rub their belly. Oh yea, they will occasionally deposit a maimed rodent, dead or soon to be, on the porch.
As far as being a companion, they are aloof. Nothing like dogs, who actually return the affection.
I’ve always been a dog person, but haven’t had a dog since Poker, my German shepherd, died in 1992. I never got another dog because I was rarely home and dogs need companionship. Cats could care less about company.
My conversion to Cat Daddy status was not by choice. It was either feed them or watch them starve.
Let me introduce them.
Boots was my first, emerging from The Jungle in July 2018 as a kitten, probably just a couple of weeks old at the time. I videotaped our courtship and put them on Facebook, including his first foray into my humble home, and a star was born. It wasn’t me.
A tuxedo cat, Boots is a handsome fellow, perfectly symmetric, regal even. He once told me that he was actually born in a tuxedo. But he’s no longer much use for the ladies if you know what I mean.
We’ve written two books together — “Boots and Me: Life with the King of the Jungle,” and “Boots and Me: Getting Down to Business” — that hover around a single premise, Boots making fun of me. He says there is an infinite amount of material.
Hundreds of books have been sold, raising several thousand dollars to share among two local rescue groups, the Robeson County Humane Society and Franny’s Friends. If you want one, both or a really cool T-shirt, let me know. I will be cutting a check soon to the Humane Society.
A couple of months ago Juice arrived, a grown tabby cat who is a male and whose age I have no clue. I named him Juice because he was orange, not after O.J. Simpson, a football idol of my childhood who fell out of favor when he cut off his ex-wife’s head. That was a dealbreaker.
Juice, unlike Boots, is an outside cat, rejecting daily invitations to come inside no matter how wet and cold it is outside. I think he is traumatized from the one time he did come inside. When the door closed behind him, he morphed into a pinball in search of an escape. When none could be found, he levitated and found himself atop a 7-foot-tall hutch. It made me question all I believed about gravity.
He stayed there for an hour hissing at me until I had enough Bud Lite to get up the nerve to toss a towel over his head and grab him. His hind right paw dug into my right arm as I opened the door and gave him a good toss into the yard. The blood loss was minimal, but it was all mine.
Juice was back on the top step eating 10 minutes later, so he doesn’t hold grudges.
Juice is still a male in every sense, apparently territorial, and returns each day with fresh wounds on his face. He is on a steady diet of antibiotics. I am concerned that he will return with injuries so bad I will have to get him to a veterinarian. Should that happen, I will be the one with flesh wounds.
His fighting mate is another tuxedo who arrived a few weeks ago. I don’t know for sure this cat’s gender, but I suspect it is a male because he and Juice make war, not love.
Full grown and perhaps kin to Boots, this fellow is glad to eat the cat food I put out, but our relationship is distant. I have not gotten within 15 feet of him before he flees into The Jungle, so he hasn’t yet qualified for a name. If he does, a Facebook friend suggested Oreo.
On Thursday night, during the midst of an unnamed hurricane and with temperatures near freezing, Juice, the unnamed feral and Opie — he’s an opossum named for the Ron Howard character on “Andy Griffith” — were outside, social distancing, soaked to the bone, staring at the back door, waiting to be fed.
Boots was inside, sleeping on a pillow, warm, comfortable and content. Every once in a while he would rise from his slumber, saunter to the back door, and gaze at the three. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I have ruled out sympathy.
As he often reminds me, it’s good to be King.