See, we leave enough food out for our cats and any strays that happen to pass by. If we see strays, we try to befriend them. When they trust us, we take them to the vet and have them spayed or neutered; we also have the vet give them a check-up and buy any medicine we need to give the cats. When they're all healed, we let them loose. If they decide to stick around, they're always welcome.
Anyway, we leave a bowl of food out for our barn cat every morning. As a result, we often have strays (and occasionally the neighbour's cat) drop by and eat. I have no doubt that many of them drop in for a snack and then leave without me ever knowing they're there.
But some of them stick around - Magi, the dark-striped tabby is one who has been around for a long time. Cloud Dancing, a beautiful silver cat, spent a long time here before moving on; we saw him in the yard of a house on the other side of the neighbourhood. A wandering, drifting cloud; never sticking in one place for too long.
One week some time ago, we noticed that the food was disappearing much faster than it should have if just our cat and Magi were eating from it (Cloud Dancing had left). We thought it must be raccoons, and dismissed it as such.
Then one morning, I happened to look out the window and see a flash of orange. I saw enough to realise it was an orange cat.
I told Mom, and we started to keep an eye out for the mysterious stranger again.
As time went past, we realised that a dangerously gaunt orange tabby cat was eating our food. He was starving, and his fur was dirty and matted. He was covered in scabs, both from fights and from fleas. From his outward appearance, one would have thought he was just a rough-and-tough tomcat who was down on his luck and shouldn't be messed with - or just an 'ugly' cat that didn't deserve pity. Or both.
But one day we took our chances and went outside to approach the cat. We moved slowly. He ran off the first time, scared.
We decided to try again - and the second or third time, after several minutes of speaking gently to him... he walked right up to us and started rubbing his head against our legs, begging for attention. We petted him, and he even let us put him on our laps - you could feel his bones through his fur.
There was no fight when we carefully ushered him into a cat carrier and drove him to the vet. After a few days, we were able to take him home. We were told to keep him confined until he healed from the aftermath of the surgery. We were also given medications for his flea problems.
They had groomed him. He was still skinny, but his fur was no longer matted, and now he got food regularly, and as much as he wanted or needed. He had to stay in the bathroom for a few days. He didn't like it; he wanted to go outside again. But he always welcomed attention. Every time you would enter the bathroom, he would stand up on his hind legs and place his paws on your legs, wanting you to come down to his level and put him on your lap.
After several days of feeding him and keeping him clean, he was ready to go outside. We carried him down the stairs and out the door, and set him down. He immediately bolted, bounding through the grass.
As I turned around to head back in, I felt something crash into my legs from behind. I turned back to see that he had come running back and tackled my legs. I laughed, needless to say.
The days passed, and my mother and I knew that this charming orange tabby was here to stay. We still hadn't named him. My mother is the designated namer, and usually chooses names I would not choose. But her name for him - Mordecai - was okay. I wouldn't have named him that, but I liked it.
Unbeknownst to her, I've nicknamed him two things - my 'little lion', and my 'Cai. He is one of the friendliest cats I have ever met, and he appeared to have taken a shining to me early on. He loves everyone, but I'm the one he tends to run to first.
He has his own bed in the garage beneath a heat lamp next to the two beds belonging to our Russian Blues. He also has his own bed right outside our living room window - a large box padded with blankets and a pillow. Beneath that, he has a wooden cat house fitted with a heating lamp, as well as two bowls for food and water.
He's no longer that malnourished, matted and pitiful little creature he used to be. He's a healthy weight now, and his fur is thick and clean. It has been at least a year now, and he hasn't left. I think Mordecai is here to stay. And I'm overjoyed that he decided to.
Here are some photographs of Mordecai now; I don't have any of him before we rescued him, but you can see him as he is now.
|Resting in his bed outside.|
|He was pretty sleepy, but he still managed to stay awake long enough to let me snap a ton of photographs.|
|There's my little lion. <3|
|Just look at those eyes!|
|Mordecai, chilling out on the front sidewalk.|
|I love this photograph. The brown and the green perfectly show off his soft orange fur. He has to be the most photogenic cat I've ever met.|
|He heard my dad out in the driveway when I snapped this photograph, hence why he's looking away.|