The Story of the Beast with Those Four Dirty Paws

We often leave our back door open during warmer weather so the dogs can run in and out freely. This has resulted in mud, leaves, wasps, cats, goats, and chickens coming inside. I don’t mind. They’re fun memory-making moments. We close the door at night, of course, because we also have raccoons, skunks, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, and bobcats.

One day last June there was a kerfuffle from cats on the back porch. This usually means Jack (Nickajack) is hanging out, and another male cat has come around. Since Muggabee has been gone for well over a year, Pickwick moved away with the previous owner of the neighboring ranch, and Foosball hasn’t been seen in a very long time, it meant someone new had arrived. I looked out the window to witness a grey cat I’d never seen before nervously walking toward the brambles that mark our property line. I went to the porch and called to it.

Suddenly it was running at me.

I love animals and I’ll talk to and pet just about any that are willing to be friendly. However… Having an unknown creature who is out in the “wild” run at you is not a comfortable situation. While this puffy ball of nails and fangs was bolting at me, I was silently freaking out, images of Cujo’s foaming mouth slamming into my brain, urging me to not let the rabid cat reach me. Then he was there, looking at me with big silvery green eyes, meowing as though I was the first person he’d seen in years who could speak Cat.

Then he was in the house. Through the open back door he went, slowly exploring all the rooms while Peggotty, the neighbor’s overly-nourished indoor/outdoor pet, and instigator of the aforementioned kerfuffle, grumbled along behind him. He ignored the dogs, as well as Peggotty, and eventually made himself at home on the couch, where he fell asleep. For a couple weeks we would let him hang around inside during the day and kick him back out when it was time to close the door.

He’d meow from the porch for hours, begging to be let back into the warmth. (Even in summer our evenings are cool, sometimes even properly cold.) Then one night, as I was up to pee, I heard him meowing on the roof above the bathroom. It was heartbreaking, and I couldn’t take his desperate pleas for a home anymore. We bought a litter box and let him stay.

You could tell straight away he wasn’t a cat used to being outside all the time. To begin with, he was fat. In fact, he was so fat that we first took pity on him because he looked like he was about to give birth to a sizable litter. Additionally, he let you pick him up and touch his stomach. He had belonged to someone, and he had been loved. We posted that he had been found on multiple community boards, we notified shelters as well as the sheriff’s office. We did what we could to find his owner, short of going door to door, but no one claimed him. We tried to get him re-homed, but no one has shown any interest. We don’t want to take him to the shelter, since he has already lost his previous family, it doesn’t seem fair to take him from this home as well, especially just to live in a cage for weeks until someone finally decides he’s pretty enough to adopt.

So, we have a cat, at least for now. I don’t even know that we’re allowed to have cats here, but here he is. We’re calling him Cornwall, inspired by where we lived in Connecticut, Cornwall Bridge.

Title From:
Dirty Paws
by Of Monsters and Men