The last cat

Emily Rice, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, W.Va.
·3 min read

Feb. 22—When I moved into my current home, the neighborhood had a large feral cat population. As an avid animal lover, I was torn as to my alliances in this neighborhood drama.

On one hand, I completely understood the frustrations of the home owners. Cats, especially feral ones can take a toll on infrastructure in the neighborhood, much less the shrubbery and flowers.

While there was a split in the neighborhood over what to do, no one was taking any affirmative action quite yet. That was, until someone new purchased an apartment building and had a problem with the cats.

For a week straight, some of our local animal rescue advocates sat in the cold, rain and dark, trying to capture as many cats as they could to be relocated. By my estimates, when I moved in there were about 20 to 35 cats. By the end of their labors, there was one cat left.

They spent another week trying to catch him, but this cat was determined to live in freedom. As the classic reality television show, "Survivor" says, "Outwit, Outlast and Outplay." The cat was too smart and determined for their rescue.

However, in the months since, I think the cat has changed his mind about his choice of isolation. Why do I think this? Because he has chosen my house to meow at.

Despite my large dog, Zooey, who barks incessantly at him, the cat sits in my backyard and stares. The first time he approached, I was cooking some chicken with the windows cracked and I heard a faint sound from the porch outside. Looking out my kitchen window, I spotted a small black cat with a fluffy tail sitting on my porch, looking back at me expectantly. Unfortunately, Zooey spotted him and he ran away, but I left some chicken on the porch for him.

Since then, his requests for food have not been as demanding. He sleeps under my house and suns himself in the sunbeam on the front porch in the mornings, but makes his way elsewhere before Zooey wakes up. Each time it snows, I can trace his steps through tiny footprints alongside my own and my large dog's.

I am absolutely torn. As an animal lover, I want to try to see if Zooey could become friends with the cat. She doesn't mind them indoors, such as the veterinarian's office, where she lets their cats sit on my lap without a fuss. However, outside is an entirely different story.

Most would say this cat has "chosen me," as cats tend to do. Unfortunately for the cat, another animal chose me over a decade ago. My dog, Zooey fought any of her puppy siblings that tried to climb on my lap 13 years ago at my hometown animal shelter. She chose me, and refused to let her siblings try. A few days later, she came home with me and rest is history.

All of this to say, I am not opposed to getting another animal. In fact, I would love to have a house full of them. But, there are finances and responsibilities to be considered, much less splitting my time and affection in half from my dog of 13 years. If this fluffy-tailed cat has chosen me, the situation will work itself out. In the meantime, I'll add a warm shelter on the back porch for him and maybe sneak some food to him. We'll see what I can get by with without Zooey getting jealous.

— Contact Emily Rice at erice@bdtonline.com and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice