My mother thinks that I must hang a neon sign that only cats can see outside my house. Wherever I go, it takes the neighborhood cats all of ten minutes to find me.
I’m afraid the sign works more like this: I see a cat from my window and I run outside to feed it. Cats tend to like free meals. And they’re smart. It takes exactly one time of something happening for a cat to consider it a habit.
There is a small colony of ferals that live on my new block. I’m most fascinated by the skinny grey male who comes to our porch every morning for breakfast and naps in the shade of a dying evergreen. I can always tell when he’s there by my cats’ body language. They spend a lot of time looking at squirrels and birds out the window anyway, but they get very stiff and still when they are watching another cat.
Historically, they have hated outdoor stranger cats. Zorro, especially, will try to fight through the screen and when the outdoor stranger runs off turn his anger and agitation on his housemates. Giant kerfuffle tends to ensue. But there hasn’t been so much as a hiss or growl with the three ferals we’ve seen on our porch so far.
In fact, if anything they all seem quite fascinated by each other. The little grey will sit on the outside window ledge and study the cats on the inside, who are equally glued to the window. He still runs away if a person gets too close to the window, but he watches curiously while I pet Zorro or Chipotle. One extraordinary morning when the window was open, he jumped onto the window ledge and touched noses with Chipotle through the screen.
Since it’s a bit clunky to say “the skinny grey one” and “the skinny black one” and “the grey one with white feet,” I decided they needed names, but we haven’t been able to agree.
My son lobbied for Paco, but I vetoed. He took a brief turn to Mojo (also vetoed), then doubled down again on Paco. Seamus was my first suggestion, vetoed by my son. I thought we were building consensus around Sasha, but then my husband pronounced it “a girl cat’s name,” and we had to start all over again. Lincoln and Sweet Potato are currently under consideration. Perhaps he will have a first name AND a middle name, or perhaps he will just be “the skinny grey one” forever.