We called him The Squatter. Because one day in early October 2005, he showed up on our porch and claimed squatters rights. He wasn’t going anywhere. He looked to be about 4 – 6 months old and he was starving. Every rib was visible. He had clearly belonged to someone at some point, because he had a collar. He had clearly belonged to someone stupid because the collar was meant for a dog and too heavy for him – it was dragging him down. And he hadn’t belonged to them in a long time, because even in his starving state, the collar was biting into his little neck, almost choking him. It had to be cut off. He almost smothered me with love when I got it off him.
At first, we didn’t let him in – partly because we already had a cat and partly because he was afraid to come in. So he became our porch kitty. I made him a little bed and put food and water dishes out for him. But as it got colder, I couldn’t stand the thought of him shivering on the front porch, so I coaxed him in. He would come in for short periods of time, but the outdoors were ingrained in him and he preferred to spend most of his time outside, often just sitting on the other side of the door, staring at Pussty (our first cat).
We went through several names before we finally settled on one. We called him Milo and Kitty and Asscat and Mike and Balls (OK, only I called him Balls), and the girl – who was almost two at the time, just called him “My cat! My Cat! MYCATMYCATMYCAT!!” Eventually, we settled on Angus and it suited him perfectly.
Little by little, he spent a little more time inside, but mostly wanted to stay out. Pussty was getting older and more frail by then, but Angus didn’t care – he chased him and tackled him and loved him relentlessly. But as much as he loved on Puss, he wasn’t the kind of cat to sit on a human lap. Until December of 2006 when Puss was very sick and we knew the end was near. On the evening of the 9th, I knew Puss wouldn’t be with us much longer. And in the middle of the night that night, Angus jumped into bed with me and snuggled up. I sort of half woke, wondered why the change of heart and went back to sleep. The next morning, Puss was gone. I swear Angus knew and was comforting me. From that day forward, he came a mostly indoor cat.
He thrived in the next few years – he got fat and happy. He still wasn’t a lovey-dovey kind of guy, but he doled it out when he was in the mood – mostly when you least expected it. He loved me, though. Every night, when I would go to bed, he followed me in. As I laid in bed, he’d come over and push his head under my hand so I’d pet him. After a few minutes, he’d be satisfied and settle down in the crook of my knees. We slept like that every night.
When we got the new cat this December, he spent four days grumbling and mumbling and griping and hiding and asking us, “Are you KIDDING ME??” but then on the fifth day, we discovered the two of them wresting and tackling and playing and rolling around. They’d race into the basement and then come back up with cobwebs all over their heads and whiskers, looking nonchalant. It was good for Angus –he was more active than ever and he lost weight. We had to stop calling him fat (except for his head – it didn’t change, so we could still call him fathead).
About a month ago, he came in limping – not using one of his front paws at all. We took him to the vet who thought it was a battle wound of some sort, gave him some pills and fixed him up. For the couple of weeks that he was recovering, we were able to keep him inside. We have never been outdoor cat people, but since he came to us as an outdoor cat, it was hard to break. We didn’t want anything to happen to him. But as he got better, the call of the wild obviously pulled at him. He would sit at the front door and look out – hollering at anyone in the vicinity to Let! Him! Out! NOW!!! Try as we did to keep him in, he was having none of it. He would lie in wait for the door to open and zip his newly svelte body through the open door. He didn’t stay out long, but he liked to spend a short time out every day.
On Sunday night, he was on the porch playing his “Let me in! PSYCH! Let me in! PSYCH! Let me in! PSYCH!” game. We were tired and eventually went to bed, knowing he would sleep on the porch chair and come inside in the morning (maybe after a few more rounds of “Let me in! PSYCH!”) But Monday morning came around and he wasn’t on the porch. Mr. b found him in the driveway, under the van. He liked to lie under there and spy on everyone, so mr. b didn’t really think anything was wrong. But it was very, very wrong. Our Angus was gone. He didn’t have a mark on him, so we think it may have been poison. I am going to let myself believe it was accidental because anything else is too painful to imagine.
I laid in bed last night waiting for a little fat head to come push my hand and settle in behind my knees, but it never came. God, I miss that cat.