Yes, someone left the “Kind-hearted woman lives here” sign out in the woods again. I came out one morning last week to find this beautiful boy sitting at the edge of the parking spaces, with Beyonce, Dilute, and Scruffy hissing and growling from their various vantage points. While I have named most all of the cats who end up on this hillside with the names of musicians, mostly Mississippi blues men, I started calling him Whitey Bulger. For obvious reasons, Whitey, and the Bulger just came as an afterthought because he seemed to display some gangster boss traits initially. He and Beyonce were just getting into it one morning–my girls will defend their turf and don’t take any lip from the male interlopers who think like tom cats do. I did what I did when Duck II (my second Jimmy Duck Holmes cat) showed up: put the food outside the drive way so he could eat without blood being shed.
As cats will do when you feed them, Whitey started coming around…all the time…and sitting on the steps in the morning waiting for me to come out with the food. He quit hissing and began to meow quietly, following me around. One evening as I sat out with the fire pit, he got closer and sat down quietly looking at me as if taking measure. I started talking to him in my best cat whisperer voice.
Where are your humans, Whitey? You seem like you have been around humans before. Did you get out and get lost? Did someone throw you away? Or are you just visiting from the neighbors?
I started slow-blinking, watching to see if he would slow-blink back. I had just read a research article (yes, there are folks who research cat communication!) earlier in the week about how cats communicate with other cats and even humans with the slow-blink. The researchers found that when the human slow-blinked back at the cat, it would approach sooner than without slow-blinking. [Note: I did not ascertain if the research was with feral cats or tame cats known to the humans.] A couple of days passed and one morning when I went out, Whitey was at the steps, meowing softly and began rubbing up against my leg. When I leaned down, he let me touch him and scratch him behind the ears, while softly talking to me. “Yep, Whitey, you have had humans somewhere along the path.”
I told Randy last night I guessed I had to give Whitey a new name. Once he figured out he is not the alpha-dog cat around here, the girls are slowly accepting his presence–as they did with Duck II before he disappeared one morning never to be seen again. He is now so friendly he weaves in and out of your legs while walking–a moving land mine. He asks to be petted, scratched, talked to, and most of all, asks to be fed and given fresh water. I suppose if he hangs out a little longer, I will try to get him in a cage and take him in to be neutered. While the girls here are spayed, it might save a litter somewhere else down someone else’s road. I also opined last night that I would contact the animal shelter here, and the cat rescue organization to see if he had been reported missing, but that has never resulted in a found human yet in 17 years.
In honor of the tradition of musician names, welcome home, Johnny Winter. And next up, the “Rock” report on mopping: research that is only slightly less important than the slow cat blink.