We've become regular hosts to a cat that has apparently been living in our neighborhood for several years. Paula started feeding him, and now we're a regular stop on his route. If we didn't have two cats already dwelling in our house, we'd take him on–but I'm sure it would be a temporary arrangement.
I've considered taking him to the SPCA. But considering that he had a flea collar on when we met, and he appears on very close examination (while willingly sitting in my lap) to be in very good health, he may very well have a house that he calls “home” — or at least did recently. The flea collar was old, so it could be that he's a runaway. But he's getting along pretty well, and considering the rat population in our neighborhood I think we could use a few outdoor cats around here.
He's a tom tabby with lynx-like ears, and he's pretty well socialized; he's been known to climb up on laps and administer a hug (one paw on each shoulder, head rubbing against recipient's chin). Our neighbors across the way say they fed him until he bit one of their kids–knowing their kids, I suspect some rough handling was involved, and no blood was drawn.
We're apparently not his only current regular meal ticket. Our next-door neighbor keeps a bag of cat food at the ready for him, and he seems to have a well-established territory. We might not see him for a couple of days, and then he'll show up on our doorstep, awaiting his breakfast.
Anyway, he owns us now–he's got us calling him by name. It all started a few weeks ago when I stepped out the back door and was greeted by his plaintive meowing. “Good morning, moochy cat,” I said. And it apparently stuck. He is now Moochy Cat, or Mooch, or (on occasion) Steady Customer.
And we've made an investment in him, beyond the food. Two weeks ago, my daughter made me buy Moochy a new flea collar. He let me take off his old one and put on the new one–but bolted before I could fully adjust it.
But clearly, we don't own him. The next time I saw him, his new collar had been adjusted and trimmed.
Who can really own a cat, anyway?