I’ve got two and a half cats.
The logical first question is “Where can I get a half cat?”
So here’s the story.
I live on the outskirts of Austin on a hill. Behind my house is a couple thousand acres of greenbelt. Its protected space full of scrub oaks, cedar, coyotes, foxes, rattlesnakes, skunks, owls and as far as I know, dragons. It’s a beautiful area and wild as hell. Of course, all the critters that live back there are hungry pretty much all the time.
Now add curious, well fed, happy and no doubt stupid, house cats.
They wander back there chasing mice or birds or butterflies, unaware that anything on earth means them harm.
Well, in my neighborhood, they end up as Scooby Snacks.
There is a neverending series of flyers by the mailbox for missing cats that will never be found. They were breakfast.
In the nearly fifteen years we’ve been here, we’ve been through more cats that I can count. At some point some years back, we realized that it didn’t make much sense to get too attached to a cat so we started getting only black, male cats from Craigslist. We give someone $20 and bring home a wonderful kitten and do everything possible to keep it in the house, but with the traffic that flows through our doors, they always manage to get outside. Some come back, most don’t.
Hell, we had one wonderful cat that got out one afternoon and never came back.
So we get these black, male cats and try not to name them for the first year. The good thing is that kittens are a blast and we always have kittens.
Is this cruel? No way. We give them a great life and if they choose to sneak out and move on to the next plane of cathood, that’s their choice.
We’ve got two BMCC’s (Black Male Craigslist Cats) right now that are great. We love them. And we hope they don’t get out and eaten.
But what about the Half Cat.
That’s Rio. She’s your typical cranky, lanky, foul tempered Siamese cat. She’s kinda bony, kinda wobbly and can go from purring to sinking her teeth into your arm with little or no notice.
And she’s over twelve years old and has spent a good half of her life outside. She’s outlived maybe a dozen other cats. She’s been seen a mile from our house, killing rabbits in a friends back yard. She’ll vanish for weeks at a time and come home skinny and hungry and camp out on our bed for a week at a time.
How does she do it? She hates the two black male cats and wont interact. She comes in the cat door to our bedroom and sleeps on the bed all day. When she wants out, she goes. And every time she goes, we never know if we’ll see her again. She can hang around for weeks or months, then slip out into the night and be gone for an hour or a week.
So we’ve grown used to her rhythms. We feed her, pet her, give her whatever she wants and when she leaves, we silently wish her good luck.
Now that Spring is here, she’s been out more. New bunnies and rats and such are cropping up and she’s there to cull the herd. She’s been gone for two days so far with no sign of returning… Will she show up randomly at 3:00AM and jump up on the bed, curl up on my chest and purr all night… Or will she never be seen again. We never know.
What are the lesson I’ve learned from my two and a half cats?
1. Treat every day with everyone you know and love like it’s the last time you’ll see them. Hell, you never know. It COULD be the last time you see them. Whenever I see Rio, I treat her with kindness. Spend a couple extra minutes petting her. She purrs and looks pleased.
2. Live your life for the joy of living, not for safety. Rio does that. She’s very fortunate to have the best of both worlds. A warm, soft bed with food and people who are kind to her, and she’s got the wild world outside the door any time she needs it.
3. The smart survive. Rio is obviously smarter than any cat we’ve ever had. She’s outlived a dozen others in the same environment. I sometimes think she’s got a deal with the coyote herd. I think she brings the new cats out to meet her “friends” and leaves them there to their fate. I’m sure of it.
4. Cowards live long lives if they make peace with their true natures. My two black cats have it made, but in a different way. They stay inside probably because they’ve had the living crap scared out of them from the monsters that live beyond. They’ll live long because they’re cowards.
5. Purr. It makes you happy and it makes the people around you happy. And happy is good.