As I may have mentioned before, most of our family cats have come from shelters. We’ve gone there looking for specific kinds of cats – calicos or torties, orange tabbies, or frequent talkers – and we’ve found them. But some of the best relationships we’ve had with cats have been the ones where they have chosen us rather than the other way around.
The first one that chose us was Maggie. Or rather she chose my husband. One night after work, he was walking across a dark, rainy parking lot when a small, wet, scraggly gray tabby accosted him. “Meow, meow,” she said, meaning “Take me home with you right now.” Dan said, “Yes, I understand. You’re coming home with me.” Then he scooped her up and put her in his car. We named her Maggie (really Magdalena, but it was too much name for her).
Maggie had to live in the garage for a little while. After all, we never introduce a new cat into the house until it’s had a vet check, de-worming, and all its shots. We don’t want to take the chance of exposing our other cats (and there are always other cats). Besides, she smelled terrible and wanted to rub herself all over Dan.
Even when she was allowed into the house, she was unnaturally devoted to Dan. At the sound of his voice cooing at her, she would instantly flop over on her side and begin writhing in ecstasy. I always said if they were the same species, I’d never have had a chance.
Django was another cat that chose our house as his home.
He was a big (but not fat), robust gray and white cat that appeared in our woods one day and came up to our front steps when we put out a snack for him. Then he hung around after chowing down. Soon he was one of the gang. (Django was named for Django Reinhardt, the famous guitarist who made Gypsy Swing popular. I figured if Dan could have a cat named Garcia, we could also have one named Django. But I digress.)
Django also had an unnatural relationship with Dan – or at least with his arm. Whenever Dan was working on his computer, Django would try to mount his arm and boink his elbow. I honestly thought he was going to drill a hole in it. (The vet said there was nothing wrong with the cat; he was just a horny bastard.) Django was, and remained, a sturdy cat, even after he developed cancer.
Yet another cat who decided to keep us is Dushenka, the calico pictured here. (“Dushenka” is Russian for “Little Soul.”) She was a stray who hung around the neighborhood for a while, scoping us out. Then we didn’t see her for a while. One day, there she was, ambling through the garden like she had just made up her mind. After all, there was a sign over our door, visible only to cats, that said, “Free food and pets here!”
Dushenka still remembers her days as a stray. Now and then she likes to go walkabout if we happen to leave the door open a slit. She never goes far and always walks right back in like she owned the place (which she does) after she satisfies her wanderlust. Nowadays, she sleeps by Dan’s head every night.
Perhaps the most stray of all the cats that adopted us is Toby, a gray tiger who hitched a ride to Dan’s workplace in a delivery truck, all the way from Michigan to Ohio. After a few days of living in the warehouse, he was eager to come home with Dan. Since then, Toby has turned into quite a mouser, leaving little half-carcasses around the house for us to find and aspiring to bite the little birdies that frequent the feeder outside the window cat perch.
I’m sure that Fate has another cat out there somewhere who needs us as much as we need it. It’s just a matter of waiting for it to choose us.