Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Curious Incident of the Calico Cat

Yeah, so, this is a post about Pepita.  If you're not here for strange cat tales, please tune in another day.

A year ago, this happened and then this.  To recap in brief:  A year ago, while out walking the kids and dog, we found a small calico cat, and she followed us home.  We didn't take her in.  And then she followed us home again a few days later and I felt bad, so in she came, disrupting the delicate feline equilibrium of our household and resulting in what has been a year long territorial dispute (urine fest) between her and our other female cat (now incarcerated in Husband's room on a permanent basis and bitter about it).  In the early days, I tried to find Pepita's owners.  Her microchip led us to a man who had recently died and whose wife (?) informed us grumpily before abruptly hanging up on me that her son was supposed to be looking after the cat.  And posters in the neighborhood advertising the loss of a cat who was the spitting image of Pepita led us to a very nice chef, who assured us Pepita was not in fact her cat. 

The chef's lost cat was named Sorrell.

This morning, while walking the dog and kids, we cut down the alley behind Juniper street to check on the progress of the fig tree we like to poach from (its branches overhang the alley, so I figure fruit there is "public access").  Today, about half way down the alley there was a man in his yard, in his PJs, with a bassett hound wearing a blue T shirt (yes, the dog is wearing the shirt):

"Hey look, a beagle!" he announced loudly to his dog.
"Actually, beagle-bassett mix" I clarified, pausing.

Dog-related chit-chat ensued, with interruptions from Winton ("Mummy, I want that man to ask what my name is").

A cat appeared behind the man: small, calico.

"Oh!"  I said "We have matching animals! We have a calico cat at home too."
"Her name is Sorrell," said the man.


Turns out that a year ago, after a month of looking for her, and then giving up, Chef and Man got a call from someone in Owings Mills saying that they had found their cat.  This seemed so unlikely, given that the cat (and today's conversation about her) happened near the intersection of York and 39th in the city (Baltimore city, btw), and Owings Mills is about a 25 minute drive away, if you take the highways.  Owings Mills finder said "Well, we got your number from Sorrell's collar, which she is currently wearing."

Sorrell, when retrieved, was clean and well-fed, as though someone had been looking after her for a month, not as if she had been living at the Owings Mills light rail station where she turned up.

What the hell?

1) It's an odd coincidence to have this conversation almost exactly a year after I had met Sorrell's other owner, Chef.

2) Do you think there's a chance that Sorrell (an indoor-outdoor cat) wandered off, was abducted by dead man's son (Pepita's heroin-addled  and reluctant caretaker, or so I imagine), and did he take a month to realize that the cat was wearing a collar indicating someone else as owner?  Did he drop her off in Owings Mills rather than call Chef and Man, after a month of feeding the animal, to admit he had mistaken their cat for his (father's) cat?

Pepita herself has been noteworthy in the last 24 hours.  I have always assumed that mother cats teach kittens where to pee, and that if adult cats transgress, it is by choice.  But there was always the possibility that Pepita's past involved being removed from her mother early, perhaps.  Who knows?
I recently acquired another new litter box (we have 7 now), and more fresh litter, and last night I dug around in the box, hopefully, with a scoop, while Pepita watched . . . and then she climbed into the box, peed, and looked at me quizzically, waiting for approval or approbation.  Much praise ensued.
Apparently this cat needs to be potty trained, and is somewhat willing.  It's taken me a year to figure that out.

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