There are a number of animals in this house. I can even put a number to that number: right now, there are seven animals in this house — three dogs and four cats. (Surprisingly, they all get on.) That number isn’t a consistent one, though; two of the dogs are shared with my ex-wife and so only part-time residents, and one of the cats is… well, not our cat.
It’s actually a joke, that he’s not our cat. He officially belongs to a neighbor, but he all but lives here. He started coming around more than a year ago, and spent more and more time here — initially just on out front porch, before asking to come inside, and then spending more and more time here — to the point where we’d have to say, he’s not our cat. Except, he kind of is.
That last part was underscored the other day, when his actual owner appeared at the front door, to deliver food for him and try to give money because we’re taking care of the cat.
It was, as you might expect, an awkward and uncomfortable conversation, not least of all because both of us kept apologizing to the other and talking about how bad we felt — me, because we didn’t mean to steal her cat, and her because she felt as if we suddenly had new responsibility and expenses because of her cat. It felt as if we were talking past each other, honestly, both of us trying to emphasize, no, I’m uncomfortable with this conversation and how the situation has turned out, too, I promise you without just being blunt enough to say that.
She was clearly, understandably, heartbroken that her cat had to all intents and purposes, moved out. She talked about it feeling as if he’d broken up with her, but that he’d “made his choice” (a phrase she used multiple times) about where he wanted to be. We talked about the fact that we keep letting him out and asking him to go back and see her, but that he rarely does. It was this horrible conversation for both of us, and one that felt as if it went on for several years.
I feel bad for her, and how upset she clearly is about the whole thing. But. But I can’t deny that I kind of love not our cat, and I’m happy to see him every day when he decides to come visit.