The Orange Cat: An Embodiement Of Pure Evil?
I was happily and nerdily gaming away on my new laptop this evening when I heard one of the most awful sounds in the world: The low, throaty growl of the battle-ready housecat.
It went down like this:
1. By way of background, I live on a country road in rural Massachusetts, in an old farmhouse now surrounded by more recently built dwellings. My New York, New York-living landlords put a deck onto the place about 10 years ago in order to take advantage of the babbling (it literally babbles) brook that constitutes the division between my land and the neighbor’s.
2. My sole ward is a zaftig Siamese of a certain age who is a trauma survivor. Lydia, always leery of dogs, was attacked many years ago in her old home by a German shepherd with an irrepressible prey instinct. After about 2 days of desperate searching, my mother finally found Lydia cowering behind the upstairs dryer, bleeding from a deep puncture wound on her right hindquarter.
My parents’ veterinarian treated Lydia, and she was nursed back to health. She still has a small growth of pure white fur where she was bitten most deeply, and she remains absolutely terrified by dogs and other animals.
3.When I moved back to my hometown from San Francisco, I told my parents I would be glad to host Lydia in my dog-free home. I figured it would be a win-win: Lydia would be able to roam a house that was free of her most hated enemy, and I would have a companion. It has worked out beautifully.
Lydia is an excellent companion, except when I’m on the phone. That is when she starts meowing remorselessly for my attention.
4. There is a set of stairs that leads from the deck to the steeply-sloping yard and brook below. It’s a bit mossy and slick, but I and my friends have used it, and it is one of the more delightful features of my house.
5. Lately, a scraggly orange tabby that I can only think of as male has been climbing those deck stairs. It’s only happened a couple of times in the past few weeks, and Lydia has been safely ensconced in one of her upstairs beds when The Orange Cat has come around. When he has, though, he trots up the stairs like he owns the place, rubs his nose all over the outside furniture like it was coated with some kind of feline cocaine, and takes a leisurely spin around the deck. If I make my presence known, he races off like a coward. Otherwise he noses around and then goes back whence he came.
He is The Orange Cat. And I hate him.
6. My dining area gives onto the deck via a set of sliding glass doors (with screens) that the NYNY landlords installed when they had the deck put on. I usually keep it open on nice days–all the way open because Lydia likes to roam around out there and imagine capturing and killing the birds that nest in the eaves. (My zaftig Siamese trauma survivor, however, will never, ever succeed in capturing a bird…but it’s important to have dreams.)
7. Tonight, The Orange Cat came up the stairs.
8. Lydia likes to lie down next to me when I’m on the computer, and that’s what she was doing tonight when The Orange Cat came up the deck stairs. I didn’t see anything. I heard that awful, guttural feline warning growl. I know it was Lydia’s because I’ve heard it before during an unfortunate new kitten experiment about a year ago. She was not in any way pleased by The Orange Cat’s intrusion into her safe space.
So, Wordsmokers, what am I to do? Should I acknowledge the very real possibility that Lydia is my child substitute/doppelganger and let her explore her emotions with The Orange Cat? Should I call the neighbors and ask them why they let their wretched pets deteriorate to a state of hideous unkemptness? Or do I simply let it go, knowing that The Orange Cat is always with us, sniffing our decks and scaring our cats, and chasing us unto the grave? And that you chase him away when you can?