A stray cat has taken up residence in our garage.
This isn’t an unexpected occurrence: our neighborhood has a fair number of strays and ferals, and to help them through winter, we have a feral cat winter shelter station set up in the garage. And it probably surprises exactly none of my regular blog readers to know that whenever I notice a cat hanging around, I feed it.
Most of the outdoor cats visit for a short while and then disappear before I can get to know them or begin developing a sense of responsibility for them.
And then there is Nagini.
I don’t know how long Nagini has been hanging around. Literally every stray and feral cat in our neighborhood is black with a few white hairs on their chest, and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. So Nagini could be new or he could be one of the black cats we’ve been seeing for years.
He is a healthy, well-fed cat, and I don’t know if he is a true stray or someone’s outdoor pet. In either case, he has decided that we are good people and he’d like to get to know us better. He waits by the garage for his breakfast every morning. He sits by the back door when he needs some love. He comes running when we call him. He especially loves to be pet while he’s eating his breakfast. He kneads the concrete floor as he crunches on his cat food, takes a few bites then gets up to swirl around my legs before settling down to eat again.
Although he swirls and head butts and flops for the petting, he can easily get overwhelmed and will hiss and swat when it’s too much. We try to be cautious and sensitive to his signals, though I misjudged one day and got a deep puncture from a serious chomp. But what’s a course of antibiotics between friends?
Still, you can see how he got his name. Wide-set green eyes. Little fangs always visible. And apparent calm before the hiss and the lashing out!
He did spend a recent snowy, frigid weekend in our mudroom after I found him in the garage wet and shivering at the start of a blizzard. He mostly napped in the nest we made for him, though he did develop some affection for the laser pointer. Once it was warm enough, he was eager to head back outside and resume his outdoor life.
Since Nagini has been spending more time in our backyard, our cats have been spending more time at the window watching him. Sometimes peacefully:
Sometimes in some apparent distress:
We haven’t yet decided what we’re going to do with Nagini. I have been thinking a lot about our responsibility to other creatures. Nagini seems to be becoming dependent on us for shelter, food, water, affection. We can continue to provide those, but does our responsibility end there? What about our responsibility to the wildlife he decimates? I thought he might be someone’s outdoor pet, but at this point, aside from a few brief prowls through the neighborhood each day, he is always to be found in our garage or our yard. I am believing less and less that he has another home to go to. What is the right thing to do about that?
Although I usually think the solution to a cat who needs a home is to invite him into ours (after a vet visit and quarantine isolation, of course), I am loathe to disrupt the delicate balance of personalities and relationships we currently have with our six cats. Cats do like other cats, but they are particular about which ones, and I have never found incorporating a new adult cat to be easy or quick. I haven’t forgotten the months of turmoil after adding Oliver. Mild-mannered gentle Toast tried to kill him every time she saw him. Chipotle peed everywhere. Zorro started fights with everybody.
My son insists that Nagini would fit right in here with no issues because he’s part of the black cat club. “They’re all practically cousins because they look the same,” he insists. I like a weird theory as much as anyone, and I’m rather charmed by this one, though I’m quite certain that none of our black or black-and-white cats is even slightly interested in rediscovering their long-lost cousin Nagini.