My Cat's Enemy Saved His Life


My cat has an enemy who is also a cat. We call her Mina (she has a scar on her forehead like Mina Harker and is also kind of mean).

Mina is a stray that’s been hanging around our house ever since we moved in three years ago. I suspect that she was a pet of the former owners because she’s pretty friendly with people; she just hates my cat. She shows up at our windows and outside the back porch and howls menacingly at him. This is weird because my cat, Tiger, is a neutered male and an indoor cat, so he’s no threat to her territory or her kittens (though I guess her territoriality is explained if she used to live in our house).

Tiger is not necessarily happy with being an indoor cat, even though that’s what he’s been since he invited himself into our lives seven years ago. He showed up on the stoop of our apartment as a six-month old kitten and walked right in the front door. We tried to resist adopting him for about a week (we had an ill, elderly cat at the time and we didn’t want to pester her with a kitten) but once we gave up and accepted him into our household, he was incredibly happy to be safe and out of the elements. After we moved to this house, though, Tiger began to develop an increasing interest in returning to the outdoors.

This is not going to happen. I live in Texas, land of pick-up driving rednecks with little concern for the lives of animals. I also live on the verge of the Hill Country and have seen live coyotes only a few miles from my home. My cat has no survival instincts and no common sense; he might think he’s Aragorn son of Arathorn, but I know he’s really the cat equivalent of Bilbo Baggins.  

No, screw that. He’s about as well-suited for survival in the Great Outdoors as Lotho Sackville-Baggins. You know, the hobbit Grima Wormtongue ate.

This was proved to me earlier this week when Tiger got out and got lost. We have an enclosed patio where – as a concession to his would-be adventuresomeness – we let him play “outside,” stalking birds and squirrels and howling his awesomeness to the world. I let him out on Monday morning and when I went to bring him in before going to work, he was gone.

Since I didn’t hear the warning sounds of a cat fight, I assume he took off after an out-of-season squirrel. In any case, the windowscreening that encloses the porch was ripped open in one corner and he was nowhere to be seen.

(This is probably where I should explain that Robin and I are childless and therefore treat the cats as the children we cannot have. While I personally cannot imagine treating a pet as anything les than family, I realize there are some people who cannot quite comprehend the idea of an animal being cherished as much as a human child. Please understand in advance that any comments to that effect will be ruthlessly deleted and I will then block you on Google+. Thank you.)

The ensuing panic led to us walking around the block for hours, calling Tiger's name, asking anybody we saw if they'd seen our cat, and peeping in neighbors' backyards like... Um... Peeping toms, I guess. It was frightening and heartbreaking and I kept steeling myself to face teh idea that I would never see the cat i call my son ever again.

And then Robin heard a howl -- the same howl we hear when Mina comes by to hassle Tiger.

We ran back and forth between our house and the next several houses down for the better part of another hour, straining to hear some sign of the cats. I finally ducked into our backyard again and saw Mina dashing away -- and realized my dumbass cat was next door the whole time. One 41-year old, out-of-shape fatass climbing over fences later, and we discovered Tiger huddled in the neighbor's gazebo, too afraid to move.

He spent the rest of the day clinging to us, but -- like a goldfish -- he completely forgot his fear the next morning and started howling to be let out. Unfortunately for him, I tore off part of the screen to give him an entry hole in case he returned to the house before we found him, and now the back porch isn't safe. Tiger's grand adventure ended with him grounded for life...

And with a bowl of food and a beat-up pillow on the back porch for Mina. We can't bring her into the household, but we owe her something for saving Tiger's life.



  1. While I'm more of a dog person, I understand perfectly how attached you can get to a four-legged furry child who never grows up. Glad you got Tiger back alright.


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