(Originally posted June 18th, 2013)
We aren’t supposed to be allowed to have pets according to our lease, but the rule only applies to us specifically because we are renting from a single individual who owns our condo (Moustache). Many of the other occupants in our complex own their condos, and there isn’t really a rule about pets, so lots of people have them. Soon after moving in, we started seeing a few dogs going for walks daily, but it was cats who seemed to have cornered the market on the real estate around our complex.
There were several outdoor cats who seemed to always be around. You couldn’t go for a walk around the complex without seeing at least three or four poking out from bushes, sitting on fence posts, or darting across your path.
Now, we really don’t understand cats, and we don’t claim to, but at least we find them interesting. We tried, therefore, to befriend any of the neighborhood cats who would give us the time of day. Our first “friend” was a fluffy orange cat who reminded us of Crookshanks from the Harry Potter books. He didn’t have the smashed face, but otherwise, he was pretty similar. We started referring to him as “Crooky,” reaching down to pet him whenever we came across him, and generally just trying to get on good terms with one another.
While resistant at first, Crooky slowly began to respond to our particular band of needling. He would even occasionally be waiting on the mat at the bottom of our stairs when we would go out or come in for the day. Before we had known each other for too long, I tried to snap a few pictures of him.
You’ll note that he doesn’t look too happy to have us around. He’s rarely been super receptive to our petting him, but he doesn’t usually shy away too forcefully either. He’ll often come up to us as though he wants to be pet, but when we actually reach down, he’ll quickly move out of reach. Then there are other days when he’ll apparently be in the mood and will stay put while we scratch him. On these occasions, he begrudgingly lets us scratch under his chin, and he’ll occasionally let out an accidental purr.
Just as we were starting to make progress with Crooky, one day we were petting him at the bottom of the stairs when we noticed that he kept peering into the hedgerow outside our downstairs neighbors’ apartment. Upon looking into the bushes, I saw that there was a black cat staring from inside. We tried to coax the kitty out, and she came out before too long. Crooky was interested because she seemed unfamiliar, but when he tried to sniff around, she promptly hissed and bopped him on the top of the head with her paw. She would hiss whenever any of the other kitties around came anywhere near, but she seemed really friendly to people. Once we let her know that we weren’t going to hurt her, she quickly started rubbing all over us, and she seemed to love getting pet. We weren’t sure who she belonged to, but we were glad to have made another kitty friend. When we were deciding what to call her, Tracy meant to say “Midnight” because of her being all black, but said “Twilight” instead because we had just been listening to that on audiobook. Twilight was what stuck in the end (unsurprisingly), though more often we would call her “Twilighty.”
That night, we were just sitting and watching TV, when we heard a terrible sound coming from outside our door.
“Reeeaaaaaaaaaaaarr. Reeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar,” it went. Upon opening the door, we discovered that it was our new friend Twilighty. She was yowling and pawing, and she seemed frantic to be let in. Obviously, since we weren’t allowed to let her inside—and since my allergies would have gone haywire had we attempted to do so—we were at a loss for what to do. Suddenly, we were less sure that she was actually a new cat who had just moved to the neighborhood and started wondering if she was a stray.
Eventually, she quieted down, and we hoped she had just gone home. The next morning, though, there she was at the foot of our stairs once again. We tried to snap a couple pictures in case we wanted to make signs to report a found cat. She wouldn’t stay still very long to pose.
As you can see, her right eye was pretty squinty and goopy. We weren’t sure, but we thought it looked like it was infected. We also gave her another nickname: “Squinty McGee.”
By this point, it seemed pretty certain that she wasn’t going home. She appeared to think that we might be her new home, but unfortunately that couldn’t be the case. We tried researching what to do when you found a stray cat, but the options weren’t great. The first piece of advice seemed to be to try to bring the kitty to the vet or a local shelter to be scanned for a microchip. We didn’t see how we could accomplish that considering we weren’t about to put a strange cat in our car having no idea how she would react. The next option, of course, was to call Animal Control, report a stray, and have them bring her to the shelter. Since the OC shelter is a notorious kill-shelter, however, we weren’t about to subject her to that. The last option we found in our research was to try to find a cat rescue that could house her safely and eventually adopt her out. The rescues we called, however, told us they were full with long waiting lists. That meant that, once again, it was up to us to figure out what to do.
We thought about putting up signs around the complex saying “Found Cat,” but we read such mixed reviews about whether that was actually a good idea or whether it would attract potential wackos. In the end, we stalled long enough with indecision that night fell again. This time, we were prepared for the ominous yowling that would greet us at the door. We couldn’t do much, but since it was cold outside, we put a blanket in a cardboard box and set it down at the bottom of our stairs. When I checked a couple hours later, Twilighty was curled up adorably inside. We also knocked on the door of one of our neighbors across the courtyard to see if she had any idea who the kitty might belong to. After confirming our suspicions that she seemed like a stray, the neighbor at least gave us a bag of dry food for us to try to feed her. She never really seemed interested in food, however, despite being so thin, so we wondered if she was being fed elsewhere.
After the third night of yowling, we really couldn’t take it anymore. It was making us so stressed out to have this poor kitty who was obviously used to being an indoor cat suddenly facing the elements (remember, that this was early January, when the low temperatures would reach the mid-30s). We resolved that the next day, we would ask one of our neighbors to borrow a cat carrier and at least bring her to the vet to get scanned for a microchip. We also hoped the vet might take pity and have a look at the infected eye.
The next day came, however, and Twilighty never appeared. Several days went by, in fact, without us seeing any sign of her. We began to joke that we should make our “Found Cat” signs, but cross out the word “Found” and write “Lost.” Mostly, we were just worried that she had wandered into the street somewhere. Then one day, about two weeks after we had last seen her, we were taking a walk around the whole condo complex and wandered into the courtyard on the other side. Suddenly, we noticed our little kitty bounding toward us seeming happy as a clam. She came over and rubbed up against us, let us pet her, and “talked” to us with a few of her signature (but much less mournful) yowls. Then she retreated to one of the patios on that side of the complex where she looked to have a pretty nice setup, which included a cat carrier to sleep in as well as food and water dishes.
We were really confused at first. Had we been duped into caring for a kitty who had a home? Had we accidentally almost brought someone’s pet to the animal shelter?? It turned out that neither of these scenarios were actually the case. Twilighty had, in fact, found a new home. We heard from the neighbors of this new owner that, while she didn’t originally intend to keep her, she too had been charmed by our new friend. She, therefore, had taken Twilighty in as a pet. Luckily, she still wanders outside several hours each day, and if we see her out our window, we can go over and pet her. It’s actually the perfect situation. We can still have our new friend, but all of the stress associated with trying to care for her is gone.
With Twilighty adequately cared for now, we turned most of our attention back to old Crooky. We started giving him further nicknames (Crooky Monster, Crooky Crumble, Crooktenshtein, Crooky Poodle, Crookala, Monstro, etc.) We also started trying to pretend more and more that he was our kitty. After all, he didn’t really appear to have much of a home. Yes, there is a lady across the way who feeds him, but he spends 99% of his time outdoors. It’s quite obvious that he just thinks he rules over the whole complex.
We bought a roll of string and decided to see if we could get Crooky to play. Luckily, he was quite game.
We continue to bug him daily, and recently he’s started coming up the stairs with us whenever we get home, hoping to be let in. Despite the fact that he’s never ONCE made it over the threshold, he still manages to be very offended ever time the door is closed in his face. We also MAY have bought him some real cat toys recently. And MAYBE we got him some cat treats. But we don’t have a cat! I swear!
For all of our interactions, he still REALLY doesn’t seem to like us much. He has become, perhaps, LESS receptive to getting pet despite our being around him for six months now. Still, every time we come home, he comes sprinting over to our door. The same is true if we see him prowling around outside. All we have to do is bang on the window or say “hi” out the door, and he’ll be here within a couple minutes.
Cats. I just really don’t understand them. They’re adorable, yes, but all this give and take is just why I could never truly be a cat person. I’m just never sure where we stand with one another.
All this cat talk brings me to another story. This one revolves around the Disneyland Cats.
As I had mentioned in a previous update, one day while we were strolling around the grounds of the Disneyland Hotel, we saw a stray cat who appeared to have made himself at home in one of the bushes there. Having written this off as a one-time occurrence, we were surprised when we saw another kitty in the same general spot a few weeks later.
This sighting prompted me to ask about stray cats at Disneyland on the Touring Plans Lines chat. I was immediately flooded with responses about the “Disneyland Cats.” In case you aren’t familiar, here’s a brief lesson:
There are approximately 200 feral cats who live at the Disneyland Resort. Rather than get rid of them, however, Disney “employs” them as a small army that helps get rid of any rodents or other vermin that happen to make their way into Disneyland. Disney feeds the cats at several feeding stations set up around the parks and resorts as well as providing medical care when necessary.
When I first heard about this, something in the story just FASCINATED me. We joke sometimes about how when we moved to Orange County, we “moved to Disneyland,” but these cats actually LIVE in Disneyland. As far as they are concerned, there is no real world outside the parks. Disneyland is the location of their entire existence. What a great life. If you were a cat, is there any place you would rather be? After first hearing about the kitties, I read up on them as much as possible, and from that moment on, we always had our eyes peeled whenever we were on Disney property.
Cut ahead to the not too distant future, when we were spending an evening in Disneyland. We were walking through Fantasyland toward “it’s a small world” when we caught our first glimpse of a Disneyland Cat IN the parks. He just darted across the walkway on his merry way to some other corner of the park. Tracy and I mused for a few minutes wondering if the Disneyland Cats were active in the social media world at all. We checked Facebook and Twitter but found nothing.
Would you believe it, however, that on that very night, some poor person lost their phone in the parks. It was picked up by one of the Disneyland Cats who created a Twitter account and began tweeting about life in and around the parks. The cats are still very active to this day on Twitter at @disneylandcats.
They’ve also started writing a blog, which you can find here.
Cats, huh? Am I right? They’re interesting. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear meowing at our front door.