Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Orange Cat Story

I am such a sucker for cats! That's why, when an orange and white tabby cat showed up on my patio a year ago, I took notice and began paying attention to his comings and goings.

This sweet orange kitty showed up at my back door in March 2016

He was there, hunkered down on the mat outside my sliding glass door every morning when I walked toward the kitchen to start the morning coffee. So patient and so sweet, he just sat there looking straight into my eyes. Now anyone who knows cats would agree that this is quite unusual that a strange cat would make and keep eye contact with a complete stranger human. This is how I knew that, in his own way, he was asking for help.

He was here at my back door every single morning

Nyla got to know the orange kitty through the glass and grew to recognize him.

So I began setting food and water out for him every morning. And every morning he was there, grateful for my care, sweet as he could be, letting me pet him and scratch his ears. He was dirty and thin, had ear mites and tape worms, yet he was wearing a collar with a city license tag. I tried calling that number many times and could never get anyone to answer the phone. So I gave up.

A month later, in April, I was gone for 12 days on my trip to Rome, Italy. I hated leaving him without any support, but what could I do? I was, at that point, merely feeding a cat that seemed to have lost his way. But I did worry about him the whole time I was gone.

When I returned from my trip, the cat was gone. I didn't know if he had just moved on or if he'd had an accident or died.

Orange kitty disappeared for months, but showed up again in October, this time
with stitches in his lip, but otherwise looking in better shape than before.

Then, several months later, just when I'd pretty much given up on him, he showed up again. It was now October and when I saw him on my patio my heart leaped a bit. He wasn't looking so thin, and the tape worms seemed to have been treated. He also had a fresh wound with stitches on his lip and several puncture wounds on his face of varying degrees of freshness. Clearly he'd gotten into it with another animal (raccoon? opossum? another cat?) We have plenty of feral animals and loose cats in the neighborhood.

The orange kitty stayed close to my patio and deck, and was very friendly,
gladly accepting my attention and the food/water I set out for him.

No matter the cause, I was happy to see him again, a bit disturbed about the stitches on his lip, but glad that he'd gotten treatment. I began feeding him again and he stuck around nearly 24/7. He stayed very close to me when I was outside in the yard, even coming from who-knows-where when he'd hear me outside. He responds quickly to my voice when I call him, too!

Always somewhere in my back yard.

He never let me out of his sight when I was near a window or door.

Early one morning I woke to find him here, on the table.

I bought him a little outdoor cat house, which he took to immediately.

 I bought him an insulated outdoor cat house so that he could
find shelter from the rain. He immediately took to it.

And I fed him regularly and gave him fresh water every day. I couldn't leave the food out after dark. Wild animals quickly discovered it and gobbled the food, dragged the empty bowl across the yard, and totally fouled the water every night. So the cat had to learn to eat during the day and to not despair, that fresh would be set out the next morning.

I set one of Nyla's cat toys outside....he played with it for a long time!

I noticed a new tag added to his collar, this one for a veterinarian that is just a couple of blocks away. I called the number and the gal on the other end immediately knew what cat I was calling about.

"Someone else just recently called us about the cat, too," she said. She gave me the owner's phone number and I could tell by the exchange number, that it was on my side of town. I called the number and introduced myself. I told her I wanted to come over there to talk about the cat.

In that conversation I asked her about the stitches, mentioned that they probably need to come out now that its been more than two weeks. Actually, I had no idea how long they'd been in before the cat showed up again on my patio. I learned from that conversation that the woman I was talking to was the daughter, staying there to care for her dad now that her mom had died. She told me that she didn't like how the cat meowed at the door all the time to be let out, so she had pretty much relegated it to the outdoors full time.

Poor guy! All he wants is love!
This information explained so much!! The cat was clearly in mourning and desperate for human love and attention that he was no longer getting at the house he used to call home.

I also asked about all of the scratches and wounds on his face, all of which seemed to be of different vintage; some were very fresh, some were scabbed over and healing. She said she feeds the cat in the garage, leaves the garage door partially open. So clearly the raccoons and/or opossums have discovered this food, and possibly even other cats. This is not fair to the cat and I told her my thoughts on this.

At that point I told her that I'd like to start caring for the cat full time. She seemed indifferent to this, saying she thought her sister might take the cat but she wasn't sure. She asked me to stop feeding him, so that he'd stop coming over to my house. But as I walked home, I made up my mind. I was going to take charge of this cat and claim him as my own. And I did.  I called the owner back and encouraged her to get the cat to the vet's to have the stitches removed, so she picked the cat up and brought him to the vet's, but the cat immediately returned to my house afterward.

I gave him a dose of Advantage II flea medicine and began letting him in for short periods during the day, and began treatments for his ear mites. I continued to feed him regularly, moving his food and water inside, right next to the sliding glass door.

When I had to go out of town for a couple of days, I put food and water outside for him first thing in the morning and hoped he'd be okay until I got home, knowing he'd probably have to go a day or two without once the wild critters cleared out the bowls. But I also learned from my neighbor that another lady on our street was feeding him, too. So I didn't worry as much.

OG's first experience indoors. He seemed right at home. I took his collar
off, so that he could enjoy the peace and quiet without tags constantly jingling.
The collar had also rubbed away the fur around his neck and the collar itself was filthy.
OG's first experience sleeping on one of my chairs.

He slept for a really long time in that chair! So sweet! He even snores sometimes.

He was definitely sticking around, spending his days mostly on my patio or deck, coming inside and sitting with me in the living room. As the weather got cooler, I began leaving the sliding glass door ajar just enough for him to squeeze through, and he could come and go as he wanted. He began to voluntarily spend more and more time inside with me. I started calling him the Orange Guy, and a friend shortened that to OG. His new name!

Snuggling with his new mommy in the recliner and in front of the TV.

Then in late December, heartened by his desire to adopt me, I made the decision to begin acclimating the cat to being more of an indoor cat. I started enclosing him in the laundry room each night. He had access to food, water, and a litter pan. I was happy to learn that he did indeed know how to use cat litter. This gave my other cat Nyla some breathing room and stress-free access to me in the bed at night.

His first real test - and mine, too - was when I was gone overnight to run a race in late January. It would be for less than 24 hours, but would restrict him more than I assumed he was used to. But he was fine! He didn't destroy anything, used the kitty litter and was happy to see me when I returned.

He's never far from the back door, spending his outdoor time on the
patio or deck or in the flower beds nearby. But always within sight or
earshot of the back door.
Over the next few months we developed a routine. He stays in the laundry room overnight. I let him into the house as soon as I wake up. Then we sometimes crawl into bed together for some bonding time before I get up for good to get breakfast and get dressed. This is one snuggle puss of a cat!

OG is a great lap cat!!

I began leaving him in the house for longer and longer periods as I ran errands, went shopping or worked our play rehearsals. But I still didn't feel ready to leave him inside the house proper overnight as I traveled for various races. I put him into the laundry room with the door open to the garage while I was away on these trips.
Squeezed in next to me...his favorite spot! other cat, Nyla, had a chance to get to know OG through the sliding glass door in the early days of his coming around. So when I started letting him into the house, she wasn't totally freaked out. In fact, she was pretty much indifferent to him, and he to her. Once in a while, if they happen to make eye contact or he walks by her too closely, Nyla will hiss at him, but never gets aggressive. And this boy...he is totally passive toward her. What is also so amazing is that they leave each other's food bowls alone. I feed Nyla a special grain-free food and give OG Purina One.

The two cats in bed with me recently:

So here I am today, the mom to two cats - Nyla and OG. Our new resident - OG - has settled in as if he's always lived here. He is very clingy, squeezing in next to me in my favorite chair and staying with me for as long as I let him. He's a real sweetheart! Nyla joins us in the living room in the evenings, lolling on the floor near my chair. It's like a Rockwell painting!

Relaxing in the shade on the deck while I work in the yard.
He doesn't let me out of his sight.

I am so happy that OG decided to adopt me! He is one of the sweetest, most 
affectionate cats I've ever owned.


  1. What a wonderful, amazing story! Thanks for sharing.

  2. He definitely chose you as his human. It is a sad story that the lady who loved him died but I am glad he found you and chose you. He looks like such a sweet kitty.