Bob Howell

Paula and I have become the “cat whisperer” in our neighborhood. And it’s not like we set out to become any kind of whisperer ... cat, dog or possum. 

However, there’s no doubt about it. We talked about it on our way home last weekend. Just since we’ve been in Montgomery, it’s like stray cats have posted a sign in our yard that’s visible only to other cats looking for a home ... permanent, or part time. 

I think food has a lot to do with it.

We hadn’t been in Montgomery for more than a few months when a tiny kitten managed to climb up on the windowsill and start yelling his lungs out. Just to stop the incessant noise, we brought the little guy inside and whipped up a late night meal fit for a kitty his size. I think all we had in our pantry that would suffice was a can of tuna. THAT hit the spot as far as he was concerned. After that meal, the unnamed kitten started to clean himself and subsequently curled up on a spot on the couch and was out like the proverbial light.  

We knew there was a “no pets” policy at the apartment complex where we lived ... but by the second or third day ... we were hooked. We gave him the name Sadat ... after Anwar Sadat of Egypt. Looking back, it seems like a rather odd choice ... but he was stuck with it. Sadat eluded the apartment managers that came and went in the three years we lived there.

The next feline to join our family was a little female we named “Cleo.” Paula's dad came up with that moniker that stuck for the nearly 20 years she was alive.

Next from the long list of cats that found us was Bill, who was just a tiny kitten with huge paws and ears. And, yes, he grew to be a big cat to match his ears and paws. We found Bill in a parking lot when we went for our regular Sunday night Chinese food outing. He was hiding beneath a group of used cars ... and was covered in fleas. Thankfully, he cleaned up well.

Another of our foundlings was a solid black cat that our sons named, appropriately, Kitty. A lot of thought went into that decision. Kitty lived up to his wild nature. He would go hunting in the field behind our house and drop his kill on the patio. We never could take the wild out of Kitty.

When we moved into the house we live in today, the cat community went to work directing homeless cats to our house. The top of the list was a cat we named B.C. (for black cat). He was unrelenting in his attempts to come inside the house where our “inside cats” lived. 

I can remember a little boy coming down to our house asking if B.C. was there. I would find him and give him back to the youngster, only to have B.C. right back on our patio not 10 minutes later. I told the young man that we were not trying to force his cat to come and live with us. But it did no good. 

After the young man made five or six tries at getting his cat back over the next few months, he gave up and B.C. lived out the rest of his years at our place.

Finally, I’ll skip ahead to the latest cat whisperer incident. This one has a twist to it. When our neighbor JH moved in, he brought Carl to the neighborhood. After a week or so, Carl decided his cat life would be lived out better on our patio. His owner, JH, said Carl did a similar thing when he and his human family lived in an older Montgomery neighborhood. 

Then came Sis, the young female who belongs to JH’s son. She has since started spending most of her waking hours with Carl in our backyard and patio. The son knew Sis was eating somewhere, so today JH brought over a 16-pound bag of cat food!

That just goes to show you that it is hard to separate a cat from a tasty meal — not to mention plenty of good head scratching.

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