Just a front porch to enjoy a “contented cat” smile

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” —

Anatole France, French poet, journalist, and novelist

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Even though she was a “walk on” with a trace of feral tendencies, “Bob-Bob” was a gentle and loving cat.

She appeared one morning about breakfast time seven or eight years ago. Being prone to help critters in need, I have always had a half dozen or so cats around my house, all walk-ons or adoptions who needed a home. So, what was one more?

The petite gray-and-black tabby with a stub for a tail was nicknamed the first time she was seen lurking in the shrubbery, waiting for the regulars to finish eating. We watched for days as she cautiously crept out alone to eat what the others left.

Hoping to establish some form of contact, we sat nearby talking to her until she ventured out little by little. Eventually, it worked. But as she slowly approached the food, she never took her eyes off us.

It was apparent she was in the family way. Deciding that time was of the essence, we used a cage trap to transport her to the vet for a checkup and vaccinations. Then, with a clean bill of health, we brought the momma-cat-to-be home and set her up in the utility room for safety’s sake, where she could welcome her new arrivals.

By the time kittens came and all but one was rehomed, Bob Bob began to show signs of domestication. She gradually allowed minimal petting periods, often relaxing nearby with that “contented cat” look of contentment on her face.

Her one kitten that became a regular matured into a large tabby marked like his mother with noticeably longer fur and a normal tail. He loved people and craved affection earning him the nickname “Lover Boy.” Also, like her, he spent his time near the company of others with that same “contented cat” smile.

Bob Bob was always free to return to outdoor living but seemed content inside. Then, one day, she ventured out and stayed for several months living in the shrubbery once more but showing up to eat and an occasional petting. But, again, she waited until the other cats had eaten before she approached the feeding dish.

Just as unexpectedly, she strolled in the back door on another day, coming and going at will like the regulars after that.

Sadly, we lost her last week. She was a free agent when she arrived, so we never knew exactly how old she was. The vet’s guess of about two combined with the time she spent with us would have made her about 10.

Pets are sometimes lost to illness. Not this one. Sometimes, their demise comes from the perils of living all or part of their lives outdoors. Not this one. Sometimes we lose pets, and we never know what happened. They simply don’t show up one day. Not this one.

Bob Bob was attacked on our front porch and killed by a couple of dogs that viciously snuffed out her life. I was awakened about 5:45 by a commotion and found dogs playfully tossing her limp body about after mauling her. They ran when I opened the door. When I kneeled beside her, she was still breathing despite puncture wounds from bites and flesh torn from her body. I petted her and talked to her like I did when she was afraid of humans years ago. She moved only her mouth when I gently stroked her and with that, she stopped breathing.

I buried her before going to the office. I shed sad tears for a feral cat that had learned to accept human love. That morning, she was doing nothing more than sitting on her front porch where she had always waited until the other cats finished eating.

It’s been a week, and I’m still sad.

I’m sad about a society where dog owners won’t accept the responsibility of keeping their pets in fenced yards or on leashes and out of other people’s yards. Those in society who think it’s acceptable for vicious animals to roam at will, terrorizing citizens who enjoy walking in neighborhoods, or roaming to attack and kill someone’s pet.

Thankfully however, more and more city governments are recognizing the need for enforced leash laws and animal shelters. More caring communities are working to create a community where pets like Bob Bob can enjoy their front porch with a “contented cat” smile for more years than she was allowed.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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