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The New Cat On The Block

The first time I saw the new cat, he was sitting on one of the porches at our co-op, half hiding behind an iron banister. He was small, almost kitten-like, and white with grey patches. He watched as I walked the dogs past him. He watched and watched and watched, while the dogs ignored him, or didn’t notice he was there.

The cat with no name. yet.

The cat with no name. Yet.

I read recently that dogs have a hard time seeing things that are too still. They see objects better when the objects are in motion.

Cricket may be able to smell the cat...

Cricket may be able to smell the cat…

but she can't find it.

but she can’t find it.

Eventually the cat hit his limit of watching and jumped down behind an evergreen bush. The dogs noticed him then, but it was too late, he’d already disappeared.

Butterfly was quickly distracted...

Butterfly was quickly distracted…

Butterfly's birdie friend

by a birdie.

I saw the new cat a few more times in passing, literally, passing in front of our door on his way to somewhere else.

And then, one morning, he was sitting in the recess next to my front door, waiting by the window of one of the downstairs apartments. The girls didn’t notice him in his stillness and I could almost picture him putting a paw up to his lips, telling me to keep his secret.

I needed a picture of him, because writing a blog makes me think every experience needs pictorial evidence. So I took the girls up to the apartment and picked up my little red camera. I thought I was on a fool’s errand, but I went back outside and there he was, still sitting by the window.

Still there!

Still there!

I’m not going to say that he posed, but he tolerated me staring at him and clicking away. He seemed to have a particular boundary distance in mind, so as I got closer, he stepped further away. I took a dozen pictures at least, but eventually I got too close and he ran away.

"You're getting too close."

“You’re getting too close.”

"Are you following me?"

“Are you following me?”

He didn’t seem like one of the feral cats. He didn’t have their clever look, or their quick reflexes, and he really did seem small. And the window he’d been leaning against was the one Muchacho used to use as his entrance and exit.

Muchacho

Muchacho

Muchacho, the big cat on campus, hadn’t been seen in months. He’d had a cancerous tumor removed last year, but he’d seemed to recover nicely. All of his fur grew back and he was his sweet, friendly, pee-all-over-the-yard self for a while. But then he was gone.

Muchacho, the scratchy glutton!

Muchacho, the scratchy glutton!

It’s possible that Muchacho died not long after I took his picture and wrote about him for the blog. He didn’t seem ill at all, though. I’d prefer to believe that he went to an old cats’ home or to stay with another relative. I almost wonder if he was saying goodbye that day when he let me pick him up and give him a hug, just for a moment, before realizing what he’d done and jumping out of my arms to freedom.

The last time I saw Muchacho.

The last time I saw Muchacho.

The new cat must have smelled Muchacho’s lingering scent by the lower window and found it welcoming.

Something was drawing me to this new cat, and I felt disappointed when he wasn’t outside during the girls’ walks. There’s something magical about finding a cat hidden in the landscape, like a real live Where’s Waldo. But it’s more than that. Cats make eye contact in a very satisfying way. They stare and observe and notice me in a way people don’t. People are too busy walking by and thinking of other things, but cats notice me, at least until they decide that I’m crowding their space and run away.

It turns out that one of our neighbors has been feeding the new cat behind the tool shed and is contemplating calling the county to have him trapped and neutered, like the other feral cats. Meanwhile he’s been getting bigger all the time, and I’ve been wondering if he has a home somewhere nearby, and just comes over for the food, and to have his picture taken.

I’d like it if that were true.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

83 responses »

  1. Send him to me! 🙂 He let you get pretty close, Rachel. The feral cat I feed at work, down to one now, has ‘that look’ that tells me I will never have him. I hope you continue to see this little one. What a sweetie to pose for you.

    Reply
  2. This is wonderful. And thank you so much for stopping by my blog.

    Reply
  3. Hi Rachel! I really enjoy your posts..keep em coming and such a sweet cat. I am preparing myself to talk to a newer neighbor. Her dog was out in the rain all day yesterday. He/she is caged in a chainlink kennel with no protection from the rain. The dog has been in there all day Friday and today so far. I will offer to help her out when she is out of town or away from her home. The dog looks so sad..Anyway please read this post.. You will appreciate it as it is about cats… http://thehumanpicture.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/the-post-that-went-missing/

    Reply
      • I will have to put on my brave face..Doggies are still in the kennel and have been there since all day Friday and still no owner. He or she is barking slightly and nothing I can do.. I am sure they want attention and to run around the yard..

      • It’s so hard to watch a dog, or anyone, in pain and feel powerless to help. If you’re really worried, maybe call in a local rescue group to take a look. In my old neighborhood there was a dog I was really worried about and we called the local shelter and not only did they go over to check on the dog, they kept track of how many calls they got at an individual address. Every little thing helps.

  4. Thank you so much for the time you spend creating your blog posts. The relief from reality and knowing I am not alone in my pup priorities is priceless.

    Thanks again, Rachel.

    Laura

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
  5. My dogs go nuts if they see a cat in our yard. And I can tell by their bark that it’s a cat and not just a random person walking by.

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  6. Sweet story…and I’m glad you’re looking out for the kitty!

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  7. I love cats as well as dogs. This was a fun read and I like how you said, ‘cats make eye contact in a very satisfying way.’ So true!!

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  8. This cat looks just like Sam, my husband’s late cat!

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  9. Very nice post, Rachel! I tried (3 times, I believe) to comment on your last post, “Magical Thinking,” but darn WordPress was giving me fits until I changed something — now I’m able to finally comment. What I wanted to tell you before (and mean for this post, too) is what a terrific writer I think you are. I know how difficult getting rejections can be — I get them all the time … and since I’m older than you, I’ve been getting them for longer. You’re too strong a writer to let a few passes slow you down. Keep writing. About your 2 sweet dogs, about this little cat whose welfare you’ve now made me very interested in. 🙂

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  10. Butterfly & Cricket had better watch out. They’re not the type of canines to get into a cat fight and win.

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    • When we first moved in there was a cat downstairs who was not happy about having dogs in the building. Butterfly went over to make friends and got a paw in the face. The surprised look on her face was priceless!

      Reply
  11. You’ve captured a lovely quizzical look in this little cat’s expression. One of our neighbours has a cat which sits brazenly still even when we walk quite close by with our pair in the mornings, and they don’t seem to see it! So funny 🙂

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  12. a nice contemplation on cats

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  13. what a beauty! I love your photos of him 🙂

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  14. I really enjoy the pictures you put with your rhapsodies. My Lily also likes cats, very curious, but they make it clear (she gets beat up scratched often) they do not want to be her friend. She keeps trying!

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  15. I am always amused and entertained by my obsession with the camera and pictures for the blog so it’s nice to see other bloggers with the same compulsion. Red literally walks out of the room as soon as I pick up the camera now. I have to sneak up on him for a photo!

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  16. Lovely post Rachel!

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  17. What a wonderful story. The new kitty on the block seems to want to engage you but just isn’t sure…. yet. If they trap & neuter him will they return him to your co-op? Good luck and I hope we get to hear more about him!

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  18. Hey, thanks for liking my kitten recipe! I like the cat name Muchacho! It just makes me smile. What a lovely blog.

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  19. Kitten? That was supposed to be cookie. I think a kitten recipe would be illegal.

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  20. I also hope your mystical kitty has discovered your co-op is a nice place to get a between-meal snack before he returns to his nice comfy home – especially with winter on its way. Before Marcel,Marceau & Marble, my previous cats were indoor/outdoor cats but when one disappeared – probably falling prey to a coyote or fox, I’ve mended my ways and have kept my cats indoors. They’ve never been out so they don’t know the difference.

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  21. What a nice looking guy. I like the idea he comes for food and photos.

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  22. What a lovely post! Pretty little cat 🙂
    Our Chicki wants to chase away all the felines that she encounters.

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  23. Reminded me of my post about my dog missing a cat right by him that was moving!!
    http://lifeonleash.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/a-bush-a-bird-a-cat/dscn0627/

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  24. I made friends with a cat who wandered around our house when I was 13. Like you, I had to get closer just a few feet every day otherwise she would run but once we became friends, it was fever. The next Summer, she gave birth to her babies in my suitcase under my bed.

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  25. I hope he has not become homeless for whatever reason. It almost feels like he has chosen you and your small lovely dogs for a family he wants to stay with and to have a warm, cosy, loving home. I don’t know, might as well be somebody’s kitty just curious about Cricket and Butterfly.

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  26. Your picture of Butterfly here looks like my dog Sophie in white. Sophie is a “golden” Shorkie, with golden brown tinged with darker brown streaks. It is a daily devotion to keep up with her constantly growing hair.

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  27. I am not overly fond of cats, my allergies are insance when it comes to cats, but cats LOVE me. lol Jack doesn’t like them either, when he was little, a stray cat and he fought and the cat put a hole in Jack, he has a scar as a badge of honor. Poor Jack.

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  28. Tweeted this and the post about the new dog bed. Great reads 🙂

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  29. It’s a good job the cat isn’t in our garden, ed and sal would bark their heads off! Thanks for visiting our site-I wish I could write as often as you 🙂

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  30. Ahh Lovely post , cats are interesting, look you in the eye.
    Best Wishes Sheila

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  31. Maggie completely ignored three rabbits as they munched contentedly on the grass. Another moved, and she was off after it like a shot, so I think there is something in it about dogs not seeing things if they’re still.

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  32. A beautiful and well written post.

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  33. I love the photo of the cat peeking over the wall at you!

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  34. Thanks for reading my post. I love animals-my dog, my cats, turtles (all rescues ) and all the wild critters that live on our place. Enjoyed reading your posts so much! Have a blessed day.

    Reply
  35. I miss having a kitty at home. They are deep thinking, it appears. There’s nothing more soothing than falling asleep to a purr.

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  36. Loved this post! I adopted two feral siblings (brothers, Tipper & Biscotti) who were born in my backyard. I’ve enjoyed several of your other posts so far and was struck by some of the commonality. You have a dog with diabetes, I had a himalayan cat with diabetes (with three years with daily insulin shots he lived to age 13). You have a dog named Cricket, I had a cat named Cricket (who lived to age 20 by the way). So I’m taking this as as sign that yours is a blog I’ll follow and enjoy!

    Reply
  37. Tweeted this and two other of your lovely posts 🙂

    Reply

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