I’m continuing my countdown in perhaps a more upbeat tone that I had when I started. The next 70-some days will be rough for this country, no doubt. I’m no Pollyanna, but I can be optimistic. I’m old enough to know that staying calm, being patient, and holding on to hope can see me (us) through all kinds of hell. Forgive me for the tired cliche, but the light at the end of the tunnel has gotten brighter. For the first time in a long time, I feel that my country and I might actually be going in the same direction.
But you’re wondering about this new man in my life, aren’t you? Well, he’s not an adult, more like a teenager. But, oh, is he handsome!
This is Raji, an orange tabby that has been hanging out in my neighborhood the last couple of months. We originally thought he belonged to a family a couple of houses up from us. They have an orange cat but, after doing a bit of math, I realized their cat would be a lot older than this youngster drinking out of our water fountain. At first he’d run away if we approached him, but over time, he got used to us.
Finally, my husband put some food out by the water fountain. He was starving, so hungry that he tolerated my husband’s presence although he didn’t want to be touched.
In times like these, I turned to my neighbors across the street. They know everything about the hood. They used to have dogs that they would walk around the hood and, according to M, dog people always talk to each other when they’re out and about. They no longer have dogs. They now have a cat that used to live with someone else but decided she liked these two ladies better so she (the cat) adopted them (my neighbors). That’s usually how it works.
I texted M about the orange tabby and learned that he had frequented their backyard too. They had named him Raji, which M said means “hope.” They could tell me who he did not belong to. We all agreed he was likely homeless. I reached out to the hood and beyond through the NextDoor app and received a lot of supportive comments but no one stepping forward to say, “Hey, that’s my boy!”
My husband and I mobilized at that point because it was getting cold (well, cold for Florida). I outfitted a pet taxi with fleecy blankets and stationed it on the back deck where he sometimes appeared. He had also made appearances in our garage if we had the side door or garage door open, so we set up a feeding station there, with some soft bedding.
Raji was a very hungry cat and it took little coaxing to get him into our garage for his meals. Although he was skittish around us (“you can look, but don’t touch”), I hand-fed him treats a couple of times, stopping only because he mistook my fingers for food once too often. Our neighbors brought over some food that their cat didn’t like.
And now here we are.
To say my husband and I are smitten by this handsome fellow is an understatement. Just look at that tail! We expect he’s quite young. His teeth look very white and sharp compared to our old geezers.
He hasn’t been neutered. He’s packing a pair of pom-poms large enough for cheerleading. But he’s sweet. Our boy kitty–Junior–sometimes goes into a frenzy when Raji is on the back deck, howling like the Werewolf of London. Raji doesn’t pay him any mind, just sits and looks around at the birds and any other bright shiny object. [While Raji’s presence annoys the birds and squirrels that visit our yard, thankfully he’s an awful hunter.]
So next steps are to set up an appointment with our vet so Raji can be poked, prodded and scanned for a chip. We plan to “trap” Raji in our garage (i.e., close the cat door) and entice him into a pet taxi with food. We already know this works … heh, heh, heh.
I didn’t want another cat. We have three indoor, one of whom is now nicknamed Million-Dollar Maxine as her vet bills continue to climb. They are a huge responsibility, and they have created a rhythm in our lives that I don’t want to ruin. My husband calls them “anchor kitties” because we can’t do much traveling as long as they’re with us. And Raji will be a difficult experience because of Junior.
Junior can be a bully and has already demonstrated that he does not care for this interloper. He picks on Maxine and Wendy when he’s feeling hungry or just plain feisty. But he’s my boy and all I can do is tell him that over and over …. as well as let him sleep on my sandals.
But Raji has decided that he likes us enough to hang out after he’s had a meal. He could just leave but he doesn’t. He hangs out with us, sometimes playing with the catnip-stuffed sock I made for him. He’s making himself at home in our garage and in our hearts. It’s been 7 1/2 years since we last took in a kitty–Wendy. I guess it’s time 🙂
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.