Cat Walk

Saw my disowned cat this morning. He stepped through my open screen door and stood just inside my place. The door was open because I was rushing out to get on with my day. His name was Pumpkin when I paid $80 to a rescue lady/society/club for the privilege of giving him a home. He hid under my son’s bed for the 1st five days he lived with us. When we lost the house, he came with us to the apartment. All was well until he started staying with a carpet bum friend of the landlord in a studio apartment off the wing of the building next to mine. Kym was the guy’s name. He was living in my apartment when the landlord showed it to me. Kym started sleeping in a hammock out in the grassy common area in front of the apartments after I moved in. I saw him out there, bundled under several sleeping bags in the early hours before sunrise.

When the heavier winter cold hit, the landlord let him move into the vacant studio apartment. He didn’t work until the landlord started making him pay rent. Then he started overhauling automobile brakes and suspension in the dirt parking lot. He liked to use his cell phone on speaker function. So everybody got to hear the conversation. His calls to his customers were memorable.

“Well, so you think I should replace the master cylinder?”

“”Yeah, I think you should replace the master cylinder, if you don’t want to die!” 

Kym took over my cat gradually, first seducing him with food handouts from the meals he frequently cooked for the landlord. He renamed the cat “Morris,” after the 9 Lives advertising icon. Not only did he presume to rename someone else’s pet, but he boasted to me about it.

“I call him Morris,” he grinned, “he comes to it [when called].”

That was probably his only way of getting to me. I used to walk away from conversations with him. If I hadn’t, he’d be talking to me still. Tall, skinny, with blonde hair growing long around the open skin of his balding pate, he looked like Jimmy Buffett might if he’d just kept drinking without any ambition to entertain or succeed. He spent thirty days in jail for a “misunderstanding” in a bar down the street. The fellow that Kym pulled a knife on didn’t understand that he was only playing.

So my cat began staying in Kym’s studio apartment. He has a distinctive yowl. He doesn’t meow; he makes an insistent squalling noise. Every time I walked by Kym’s apartment, my cat yowled at me from behind the screen door.

Then, predictably, Kym was gone. Moved out or kicked out, it doesn’t matter. He once told me he inherited forty acres of land in Virginia from his father. Obviously, he prefered the life in Southern California to Virginia. But maybe he finally decided to take the land over the outdoorsman life.

Just like that, my former cat was homeless himself. He started huddling on the doormat outside my apartment. But now he had fleas: a fact manifested after he spent a night indoors at my place. The couch and the rug were on fire with the tiny biting pests in the morning. So he couldn’t stay. And anyway, he had chosen his own course when he moved in with Kym. I have prefered cats over dogs in my adult life. But a cat chooses you, and that’s that.

So now, I see my former cat huddling 3 doors down outside the Mexican family’s apartment. They already have a cat, but the little girl who lives there puts out a bowl for him. He should probably move on, but he’s apparently too domesticated to go feral. Maybe he thinks he’s got nowhere else to go.

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