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Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Inspector Verdi reporting for duty
Teeny, the house calico and I were enjoying a warm, sunny October morning one day last week. Teeny watched the world go by and I was drawing. We heard a series of frantic meows. Teeny bolted for the end of the deck. I tried to get her in the house. I knew what was coming. And I knew it wasn't leaving.

I went out to retrieve my art supplies after securing Teeny in the house. And there it was. A starved kitty with every bone in it's body showing prowling around the porch. Boldly winding itself around my legs, it said hello in that way that you know the cat means business. I sat back down and that is when it decided to see what I was about. First thing it did was grab at my project for inspection.

Eyes the color of copper patina and as full of homesick longing as anything that I have ever seen in my life, it looks me in the eyes and I was a goner. A lot of cats won't hypnotize you. They are in life for their benefit and don't really care if you want them or not. Then there are these cats. The cats that adopt you. The eyes are stunning. And as I said, the color of weathered copper. So I named it Verdigris. Verdi for short.

You know once you name something that it is going to stick around. How can you NOT name a feral cat that believes it has the authority and expertise to inspect your human work? I picked it up and it immediately wanted snuggles and kisses. And then walked all over my sketch books. Knowing that without work, taking on the responsibility of another cat was the least logical thing I could do I went inside. Ignored it for about 6 hours. It just sat there mewing. And mewing.

That was 6 days ago. When it was still there at night, I fed it, got some blankets and sat with it over night. I had my comfy outdoor chair, good blanket and one of the warmest October nights that I can remember. And it slept with me all night. Comforted and relaxed I was able to inspect in the morning and determined that it was a she. So the gender neutral name was perfect. And we call her Verdi. She is the product of a tortoise shell and grey domestic union.  All grey except for a brown patch on the right side of her nose, she is the lankiest thing I have seen in a long while. All leg and tail, 8.5 inches of whip like tail. Rather than the pink paw pads most cats have, Verdi has chocolate brown feet. Skinny little face  and the posture she holds looks like every Egyptian cat art piece you've ever seen.

As Teeny is not the sharing kind, getting permission to bring Verdi in was problematic. For two days she ignored me, hissed or just looked at me like I had broken her hard little heart. I was the vile betrayer and she was the innocent princess. So Verdi and I spent several nights on the porch. Several days too, I tried to do some drawing while we were out but all I accomplished was a lot of kitty kisses. When she wasn't asleep she was eating. And she ate a lot.

Within 48 hours she no longer showed every bone. In the last couple of days the patch of missing fur above her eye has begun to grow back. And her scraped chin is healing nicely. She will have one permanent mark, a torn nictitating membrane in her left eye. She rolled around the porch with a fat little bloated belly until she found a good place to pee and got used to peeing.

getting all the snuggles, rubs and scritches
During her first days on the porch with me I learned that she is scared of Chickadees, Squirrels, Mourning Doves, leaves blowing across the deck and all of the dogs that go by except for the rotund Jack Russel Terrier. So she also has a nick name, Scareddy Verdi. She really hates the pug. It took two days to teach her "No table" so that she won't get onto food prep surfaces. Though she still had a problem with taking food out of your hands. Even with her belly further rounded from being gorged on her own delicious wet meal.

She also has learned to turn on and off my apps, sping my Tardis wallpaper faster, and can scroll my pages I am viewing. From the start she was a face grabber. When she really wants attention she takes your chin in both front paws and stares you down until you boop her. I've even had her in the car. On the coldest night this week the windchill took us down to about 43 degrees. Too cold for the porch and too cloudy to see the meteor shower, we headed to the car.

I figure that if she gets used to the car that I can take her with me on adventures like I did my Manx, Spock. She is starting life out as smart as Spock and as trusting. It took her 10 minutes to settle down and not freak out about being in the car. And it was a peaceful, overly warm night. In the morning, as she wound herself through out the tent of blankets that I had made, trying to wake me up, I discovered a mistake.

She was a he. Apparently, Verdi was so malnourished that his balls hadn't dropped until the 4th day with a steady diet of solid foods. When we got out of the car for a morning of drawing on the porch, she wanted to play and roam. She He knocked one of my books onto the deck and bolted. I found him down the hill and called him back up. He looked at me, stood and stretched, meowed and then turned away. He trotted into the deep woods in the swampy area where the cranes had been nesting. And I figured that was it for the little guy. I don't mind telling you that I was already attached and spent the afternoon fighting tears. But he is feral born and probably wanted to be feral forever. By 11 that night it was time for bed.

When I went to bed I realized that I had left my pillows out in the car. When  I went to retrieve them there he was. Sitting on the porch waiting for service. So I fed him and tried to get him to snuggle in the comfy deck chair. He would have none of it. I thought that this would be the end of Verdi because we aren't allowed indoor/outdoor cats in our park. As he prowled around the porch I noticed another cat. At first I thought that it was him. But this one was too big. Then I realized it was mamma Tortie cat. And that really was all for him. Mamma came up onto the porch looking to finish his scraps if there were any. There weren't. Verdi noticed her and didn't seen too terribly interested in hanging out. He kept bouncing around as if moving would keep him safe. Mamma went to the house door and sat for a while. I picked up Verdi and he settled down. Eventually Mamma left.

In the morning Verdi took off again. I didn't feed him. I didn't sit on the porch with him. I stayed in and did some chores. So later when he was really hungry he came looking. Yesterday when I got back from my first day of work he was on the porch. Waiting. I fed him, scooped him up when he was done and boom.... he is inside. And I think that he is okay with that. Yesterday he slept belly up and feet in the air on me while we watched movies. The TV fascinated him. He can't quite figure out where all of the people. He pestered Teeny. And Teeny seems to be relatively okay so long as he doesn't touch her and no one who smells like Verdi touches her. I managed to keep them separated after the initial dust up. He's peeing in his own litter box, slept with me until I tossed and turned too much and in general has tackled all of her toys that sit unused in the middle of the floor.

It is raining today. The first steady solid rain. And I think he is glad that he is inside. He bolted passed me and headed right for Teeny's room. He is under the bed and I can not fish him out. He will be out when he is hungry. And then it will be dark in the house and he will hang out with me.

My roommate says that I needed a cat. Something mine to take care of which was relational and nothing to do with the disappointing humans. 2016 has been rough for losing people. And the last 2 have been rough for dealing with nasty people. So I guess, even though logic says that this is a silly thing to do, I have a cat named Verdi. Which between snuggles with him and working on my book project I don't have a lot of time to think of anything else. and that has eased up on my depression issues too. 

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