Thursday, October 14, 2004

Zalkan home for wayward cats

We live in Seattle, where there aren't many mosquitos, causing us to leave the living room window open most of the time (it has no screen). We also have a cat door in the back door of the house. Our four cats make liberal use of both easy entries into the house.

And so, on occasion, do other cats in the neighborhood. Apparently, we're Krispy Kat Treat Central for most of the neighborhood. There's always some strange cat hightailing it out the cat door if we walk into the kitchen unexpectedly - someone who just came in to have a bite, thank you very much, and has no desire to actually meet us. This has become so commonplace that we hardly even comment on it anymore, and our cats don't seem bothered by it, so all is well.

However, every once in a while, one of the mystery visitors decides to settle in and get comfortable. The last one was Indiana Jones, cat of legend, seen in the picture at right. Indiana technically lived in the rental house across the street, but he really lived with us. Indiana differentiated himself from all of his snack-stealing peers by settling in on the couch, on the cat tree, and even on the bed, not at all bothered by the fact that THIS WAS SOMEONE ELSE'S HOUSE, AND THEY WERE IN FACT HOME RIGHT NOW. Doh. We fought him for a while (the other cats, oddly, did object to Indie), but then we grew attached to him and pretty much adopted him as our fifth cat. Low man on the totem pole, whipping boy of the Zalkan cat inhabitants, but nonetheless a member of the family.

Indie moved recently and we've been missing him. It's winter now, which is about the time he'd start sauntering in, waving hello, and settling in near the fire for a long nap. But he's gone, and our dim hopes that perhaps he'd leave his new home to pull off one of those Disney-esque lost cat treks back to our house, where the people who really love him live, have proven unfounded. Drat - he must actually LIKE his real owner.

Anyways, to make a long story short, just as I accepted the fact that Indie was gone for good, we seem to have acquired a new friend. The last few weeks, there's been a strange kitty in the house nearly every evening. Any time I walk into the living room, someone's little white butt hightails it out the window. He's fairly bold -- he does flee when we come into the room, but he doesn't actually run away, just stands on the fence outside the window waiting for me to leave so that he can come right back in. If I walk over to the window and look out, there he is, blinking up at me, somewhat puzzled. What's this person looking at me for? And then off he goes for real.

I haven't gotten a very good look at him, aside from these few glimpses. But this morning, I got up at oh-god-thirty to go to the gym, walked into the hallway and flipped on the bathroom light, and hey -- someone was asleep on top of the cat tree! Someone not belonging to us! Sure enough, it was our new guy. Apparently he's sleeping in our house now. This is, of course, step one of his complete colonization of our abode.

The cat tree, at left, was where Indiana also slept at night - apparently the resident cats have permanently ceded this piece of furniture over to the visitors. Maybe they're running a hostel. Maybe this is the wayward bed available to cats who are down on their luck, on the outs with one of the neighborhood dogs, etc. Our cats seem to know and like this new guy, since I've seen his hind end disappearing out the window when all four of our cats are sitting placidly around the living room, utterly unperturbed. Maybe he was invited. It could be some kind of party. They're just hanging.

Our new friend took off in a terror when I found him this morning, completely caught off guard by my extra-early appearance and his deep snooze. But it does seem that Indiana has an heir. By this time four months from now, we'll be waking up and finding him on the bed with us.

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