MISTAKEN IDENTITIES PART 2

Categories: Behavior & Training
A beautiful and mysterious visitor

In Neil’s previous blog about mistaken identities it was brought to light that many cats share similar physical characteristics. This came home to roost for me, quite literally, when one of my neighbor’s cats went missing and a cat who fit his description showed up in our garage, then took to visiting our deck chairs when the sun was hitting them just right. The neighbor’s missing cat is a young, svelte grey tabby with green eyes, as is the cat who decided our house seemed like a cool place to hang. (Rest assured that Boss Cat, Lorenzo did not find this new addition to our yard a plus, although no cats were harmed in the making of this story. There was some hissing, that’s it.) Our neighbor’s cat is named Jerry – his name has been changed here to protect his identity.

The Boss is not happy

Before we move into act two, I should back up in time and say that last spring “lost” posters surfaced in our neighborhood featuring a missing cat named Suki (also a nom de blog) who is a young – you guessed it – svelte grey tabby with green eyes. Suki was not wearing a collar when she wandered away from home. Suki’s poster has remained up since its original posting and when I attempted to contact the person who posted it I never received a response.

You don’t mind if I sit here and soak up some rays, do you?

Back to our story. I managed to get a couple photos of our visitor, who did not have a collar, but I resisted attempting the intimacy of sexing them. Yes, I typed “them.” It’s 2021. So, I texted the photos to my neighbor and asked her if the cat in my yard was Jerry. She replied, “Looks very much like him!” And asked if I could ring her next time I saw him and possibly keep a hold of him until she could come see him for herself. I agreed that I would indeed try should we see the cat again. She then told me that the cat in the photos looked very much like another neighbor’s cat, Bentley (yep, not that cat’s real name, either). I asked her if Jerry by chance had a collar. She said he did not. Not only did I detect the patterns of tabby cats forming, but patterns in human behavior, as well. What’s up with no collars on outdoor kitties, people?

Not my cat

To be fair, Lorenzo has shed his fair share of collars over the years. There must be some place he goes where he gets the squirrels or raccoons or foxes (he’s notoriously friendly with a local fox family) to help him wiggle out. But, undaunted by his cunning I am adamant that he wear some visible form of ID. He’s a 10 pound black cat with yellow eyes and a white bikini pattern on his tummy. It goes without saying that he could easily be mistaken for any number of his compatriots. My algebra here is Lorenzo = X shed collars + 1.

Back to Jerry. The following day, my neighbor texted me to say that Jerry had come home safe and sound. He’d been hiding out at another neighbor’s house. So clearly our visitor was (and sometimes continues to be) Bentley. Lorenzo continues to be unamused. I continue to crusade for visible pet ID.

*****

Back in the day before it became a fashion statement to put a name tag on your dog, I lived in a small town (well, it was then, anyway) in Northern Virginia. Our next door neighbors had a beautiful, classical brown and white with dark muzzle Boxer dog named Orion. Orion was a fabulous dog and an occasional playmate of mine. I love Boxers to this day. All our neighbors were lovely and to the best of my childhood knowledge we all got along. I never heard either of my parents say a negative word about any of them. My parents were, however, particularly friendly with the folks next door, Mr. and Mrs. B., Orion’s people. We shared keys to each other houses and the grownups got together frequently for cocktails and dinner. Very 1960s.

Boxer classic

Both the B.s worked full time jobs, which was rare in those days. One temperate afternoon in the early spring when the B.’s were at work and their adolescent son was at school, my mother left the house to go to an appointment. We lived on a cul de sac on top of a hill. As my mother pulled out of the driveway, she saw in her rearview mirror a dog standing in the middle of the street. It was Orion, the beautiful brown and white Boxer from next door. No cars were coming (the bonus of cul de sacs on hills), so my mom merely stopped the car, got out and called to the dog. He happily trotted toward her. Thinking now that taking the dog into the backyard, retrieving the B.’s key from our house, then taking Orion into his house would all make her late to her appointment, my mom simply took the dog gently by the collar and put him in the B.’s backyard. Then off she went to her appointment.

A few hours later, my mother drove home and as she got to the top of the hill she saw in the second floor picture window of the B.’s house Orion staring back at her. That’s weird, she thought. How did he get into the house? She parked the car in the driveway and just as she was sorting out in her mind how Orion had made his way back into the house (had the B.’s installed a new fangled dog door?) she noticed Orion in the corner of the B.’s backyard. Then the lightbulb went on. The dog in the backyard wasn’t Orion. Orion had been inside his house all along. But who was the dog in the backyard? Yikes!

Orion’s house with his second floor lookout

To this day, I’m not sure who the other dog was. Knowing my mom, she went to great lengths to find out. Such a beautiful dog must surely have been well loved. What I do remember is  that with every telling of this story over the years my mother emphasized how glad she was that she hadn’t put the unknown dog inside the B.’s house, especially with Orion already there! At least the dog was wearing a collar. Even if his name wasn’t on it.