And it wasn’t even my cat!
The condo is typically pretty quiet, with only the rare sound leaking from any unit to our own. The exception is the hallway — the doors are pretty thin so anything that happens in the hall is fair game for everyone to listen to. Mostly it’s just doors opening and closing or the occasional conversation.
But today, as Sarah and I were hanging out and messing around in BOTW, we heard a kitty crying.
That’s not too unusual. There’s at least a couple of other cats on the floor besides Kiba and Tadashi, and sometimes we get sounds. There’s a couple of dogs, too, who only bark if you knock on their doors. We’ve heard this particular kitty before, but figured he or she was doing what Kiba does — singing the song of the cats at whatever hour strikes their fancy.
But they kept crying…and it sounded kind of closer than usual.
Also, Tadashi was staring at the door and his body language was unusual. I know all his tells for “there’s someone in the hall” and “I don’t like this sound” and this was neither.
So I got up and opened the door.
And this guy ran right to me, meowing plaintively.
Now, rescuing cats who need help is not new to me. My first cat, the cat who chose me and who I love forever and ever came out of the woods when I was 4 and sniffed my toes and thus chose me as his human for life. I’ve rescued other stray cats before when they came running for help (instead of being feral and backing away). And I worked for several years at an animal shelter helping strays find forever homes. I’ve seen lots of fearful kitty behavior and lots of reasonable wariness around a new human.
This cat? Pah. This cat came right up to me, wanted pets, and started to purr.
He (fully intact, very obviously male) was alone in the hallway, clearly having escaped from his unit, and needed help. So I did what I hope anybody would do in that situation. First, I knocked on every door on the floor to see if he belonged anywhere, but no one answered. Then I called the office downstairs to let them know so they could reach out to people directly.
And then we took little hairless buddy in, set him up in our spare bathroom with water and a litter box and toys, and I proceeded to bond with him over the course of a few hours.
I also learned more about hairless cats than I ever expected. I learned they can have really significant allergies and sensitivities to foods, so we opted only to give him about a teaspoon of tuna (the good kind with no preservatives) and water to start. I learned that they do look *really* weird, but actually petting them is pretty nice. They’re warm and smooth and kind of fuzzy, but not like petting someone who’s just gotten a buzz cut. I always thought it would feel gross, but it just felt nice.
I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor of the bathroom with him. He’s young, probably 6-10 months old at the most, so he was very playful and not always careful with those intact claws. But when he bit a little too hard and I said “no” he let go at once. I also almost taught him to fetch with one of our unused catnip toys. Like Tadashi at that age, he vacillated quickly between wanting cuddles and wanting to pounce on something — sometimes at the same time. But he was alert and friendly and he purred as loud as the loudest cats I’ve ever known.
Surprising nobody, I kind of loved him right away. I’m like that with animals and most especially any animal that comes to me for help. Little hairless buddy asked me to take care of him, so I Florence Nightingaled my way into caring about him at once. Enough to have been perfectly happy keeping him, honestly. Even though I never want another cat as young as Tadashi again. He’d be worth it.
But, thankfully, it turned out his real home was next door. So he was only my hairless buddy for maybe 3 hours before I brought him home (with a few of his toys as well).
In case anybody’s worried, we did all the right things not knowing his medical history — we washed every time we pet him, we kept any soft materials in bags to be laundered before they go back into circulation, we didn’t let Tadashi and Kiba near any water he drank, etc. I’ve also raised FLV cats and know the risks. The worst he seemed to have was either a buildup in his ears or maybe mites — thus the precautions with the blanket. Generally he was a happy, healthy, well-socialized, curious, playful cat.
And unlike Kiba, had clearly never known anything but humans being kind and friendly and loving. Little hairless buddy didn’t have any fear behaviors at all, just reasonable “I’m in a new place” uncertainty. Which tells me everything I could ever need to know about my neighbors (not that I didn’t know they were cool to start with).
I’m happy he went home even if I’m sad I don’t get to learn more about him or pet him. I don’t even know his name. We don’t talk much to those neighbors and they’re kind of on opposite schedules from us, but if I get the chance I would absolutely kitty-sit him if needed. He’s back home where he’s happy and loved and cared for and that’s what matters — but I still miss him a little bit.
Even I don’t know how many cats I’ve fallen in love with over the years, but it is probably literally dozens if not hundreds. Cats, like most people, I find easy to love.
What surprised me most about the whole adventure was how Kiba and Tadashi took it. Since the cat lives on our floor and we’ve heard him before, they know his sounds and scents. Once he was in our bathroom, they were curious about the door, nervous, Tadashi doing his “there is someone in my space and I am not liking it” slink, but neither was aggressive or territorial about it. But, then, Kiba was in a foster situation before he came home with us and knows about cats coming and going in close proximity. And Tadashi is just…once he decides you’re okay, he likes everyone. If we’d had to keep little hairless buddy for longer, I think they would have taken to him just fine in time.
Afterwards, Kiba and Tadashi came for their usual nightly pets and snuggles and, for them, it’s like nothing ever happened. And the bathroom is back to normal, too, with just a little extra laundry to do.
But I had a day with a new friend and got a good picture of him, and that’s enough for me.
I also got this picture of Tadashi tonight when he couldn’t decide if he wanted pets or play and kind of fell asleep in the middle because he’s a goof like that.
I love my little hairless buddy a little, but I love my actual boys so, so very much.