Let me begin by saying that heâ€™s not our cat â€¦ sort of.
Very shortly after Junior ceased being a little kitten, but still not a cat, he would show up out of nowhere, block the front door and flip over on his back, legs akimbo, just begging for a tummy scratch. I have since learned from a friend of TJâ€™s, who is an owner of more than one cat, that this is called the â€œCute Trap.â€
Let me say at this point that we are not Cat Peeps. We had a dog for many years until he had to be put to sleep about eight years ago (Donâ€™t ask. It was awful.), and while neither of us would harm a cat, we know zip about cats and really didnâ€™t care to learn.
I was better at ignoring the Cute Trap than was Mrs. Parkway, but after only a few of Juniorâ€™s performances Mrs. Parkway decided that â€œThe poor thing must be hungry.â€
Oy, here we go.
For a few days it was a saucer of milk outside on the deck, which Junior eagerly lapped up. Then one day I opened up one of the cabinets in the kitchen and found an ample supply of gourmet cat food, both wet and dry. WTF?
Given the availability of Five Star Dining, it is not surprising that Junior began showing up for breakfast and dinner served on the deck.
I said, â€œI really donâ€™t want this damned cat in the house.â€
Once Junior learned how well the Cute Trap worked, he also learned how to run into the house at warp speed, where he did his â€œRub Against Every-Frigginâ€™ Thing, Including Usâ€ trick. Within days, Junior was now taking his breakfast and dinner in the kitchen in the House by the Parkway.
He then began staking out a comfortable chair for long post-prandial naps. After these naps, he would try the â€œScratch the Couchâ€ routine. This invariably got him the immediate Bumâ€™s Rush, which didnâ€™t seem to bother him at all, as he would show up for the next meal at the appointed time. His thing is to sit on the railing of the deck, stare into the kitchen window and â€œMeow.â€ He is a handsome devil, and I believe he knows it.
One day, as Junior was getting the Post-Couch-Scratching Bumâ€™s Rush out the front door, when one of my neighborâ€™s grown children said, â€œIâ€™m sorry, Mr. Jim. Is he bothering you? â€™Come here, Corrado!â€™â€
â€œIs this your cat?â€ I asked.
â€œYes, it is,â€ she replied.
â€œWhat did you say his name was?â€ I asked.
â€œYou mean, like in the Sopranos? Corrado Soprano? Uncle Junior?â€
â€œYes, thatâ€™s his name.â€
Note: Prior to this time, he answered (sort of) to the name â€œPain in the Assâ€ or â€œDouchebag,â€ but from that moment on, he became â€œJunior.â€
The problem with this is that two of the indicia of ownership of personal property (and, alas, cats, like dogs, are personal property â€“ a special kind of personal property, but personal property nonetheless) are the exercise dominion and control over the property by the owners. My neighbors, nice folks though they may be, exercise neither. Claiming ownership of something without exercising dominion and control over it is not unlike claiming ownership of a distant star.
So, thatâ€™s why I say that Junior is not our cat â€¦ sort of, because, while we donâ€™t own him, he regularly takes his meals and periodic snoozes here. I have heard people say that no one owns cats, but rather cats own people. Iâ€™m beginning to get it now.
To this day, Junior has not spent the night in the House by the Parkway, but as the summer is coming to an end, and as I think about the oncoming single digit temperatures and snow drifts several feet deep, I have a feeling that, even though we donâ€™t â€œownâ€ Junior, he will show up outside the window freezing his stindeens off, and I will hear, â€œWe canâ€™t leave him out there.â€
In short, I have a feeling that a litter box (blechhhh) is in my future, and Iâ€™m not thrilled.
Having said that, this week, for forty-eight hours or so, Junior didnâ€™t show up. I began to think, â€œDid the sorry ass get himself run over? Maybe his â€˜ownersâ€™ gave him away? Where is he?â€ When I would come home from work, Iâ€™d ask, â€œAny sign of Junior?â€
The answer was, â€œNo.â€
Last night I decided that if he didnâ€™t show up for another day, I was going to ask my neighbors if they had given him away.
I realized that I missed his sorry, aloof, come-around-when-he-feels-like-it ass.
When I came home from work tonight, I saw Juniorâ€™s bowl in the kitchen, and asked (happier than I care to admit), â€œDid Junior surface?â€
â€œYep, after you left for work, he came for breakfast,â€ and while we were outside having a pre-dinner cocktail, olâ€™ Junior showed up for dinner.