Late last year I come home to find a small kitty mewing at my neighbour's door. I have seen the neighbour just walk inside and, as it is cold and damp, knock on the door to let her know her kitten is outside wanting to come in. There is no answer, though. I don't like leaving the kitten outside in the poor weather but I can't just bring her inside with me, so I give her a few kitty biscuits outside on the pavement to make her a little more comfortable.
A few nights later I see the kitten again, outside in the cold and damp weather and no one around to let her inside her home. It is late and I don't like the thought of her staying outside during a Winter's night, because she looks really young, barely older than a kitten. She is friendly enough to let me pick her up, so I bring her back inside with me. I already have a cat, a beautiful and absolutely gorgeous white kitty called Kenickie, and the last thing I want is to upset him. I know that if they don't get along I would have to put the other cat back outside. But Kenickie is wonderfully tempered and is rather nonchalant about the visitor, so the kitten stays inside overnight.
The kitten doesn't seem to know how to use the catflap, which probably explains why she is left out on occasion, not realising that humans go to bed at different times to cats and not knowing how to let herself in. I try to show her how the catflap works but, as is fairly common, the idea of the flap bouncing off her head repels her a little. Not to worry, I let her out and she scoots off to enjoy the day, and I am pleased that I gave her shelter for a night.
I see Panda cat a few more times, giving her that name because of her black and white markings, not knowing her given name, and my lack of imagination. A couple of times she runs in through my open door late at night and is happy to spend the night inside, and I am happy to see her as long as she behaves around Kenickie. I bump in to my neighbour and let her know that Panda is with me, gladly giving the kitty back to her owner knowing that she is home again. My neighbour asks if the white cat is mine, saying that she got a surprise when popping in to her kitchen in the middle of the night to see him sitting inside. It seems that we have an exchange programme.
When Panda is with me I introduce her to the idea of the scratching post, which she doesn't get shouted at when she scratches at it, unlike my carpet or furniture. I also tempt her to use the catflap, if only so that she can leave my home whenever she likes and, hopefully, go back to her own. Each time she stays I make sure she is outside before I leave to go out, as I am wary about leaving her inside with Kenickie and away from her owners. Kenickie seems fine with Panda, but that doesn't mean Panda won't try to make a move on his territory and my priority is to keep my own cat happy.
One day, I am only going out for an hour and Panda is happily dozing somewhere, so I tentatively leave the two cats inside. I fret all the time I am out, wondering what mess I'll return to, but when I get home all I see are two content kitties sleeping next to each other on the bed. That's not to say they are like brother and sister. There is the occasional scrap between the two cats and I break it up and put Panda outside when it happens, feeling a need to reassure Kenickie that it is his home first. But overall the two of them get on quite well.
After one of these scraps where I put Panda outside it comes as a surprise to turn around and see her sitting casually on the stairs as if nothing happened. I may have actually trained her to use the catflap! A little observation reveals that Panda can indeed now come in and out through the catflap as she pleases. I'm not sure if this is good or not, though. It is good that she has learnt, but she really should be in her own home and not mine.
I catch my neighbour another time and tell her that Panda is again with me. I say that she really is no bother, the neighbour replying that she must like Kenickie's company, which looks to be true. Again I give her back gladly. The third time I bump in to a neighour it is the man of the house, who tells me just to throw her outside and doesn't seem interested in getting her back. Since then Panda has seemingly spent nearly all her time with me, happily sleeping during the day, scrapping and playing with me and Kenickie during the afternoons, and alternating between exploring outside and napping during the night.
It has been about six weeks now and I have not heard from my neighbours. Panda has effectively moved in, making herself completely at home. This is demonstrated most pertinently when I go out to see Watchmen at the IMAX, leaving home early in the afternoon to return late in the evening. When I get back I see Panda patiently sitting at the top of the stairs waiting to be fed. I can't think of a clearer sign that Panda thinks she is at home than her waiting for someone to come back to feed her.
It may have been a mistake to start feeding Panda, but I leave dry food down for Kenickie all day and I couldn't stop her from coming in. It was probably a mistake to bring Panda in to begin with, but she seemed no older than a kitten—I believe she's only around a year old now—and I was only trying to do a good deed. All my actions were performed with the best of intentions, even if they were perhaps a little misguided.
As it stands, I have a second cat. Panda is happy and settled, Kenickie is his old self and comfortable with another cat around, although they can both be a little territorial at times. They sleep on the same bed and sofa, and eat out of adjacent bowls, so it seems like a happy home. My status as a crazy cat person must be increased too, as cats are apparently attracted to my home. I just hope my neighbours are okay.