Saturday, March 14, 2009
Place: Atlanta, GA
J and I were taking a walk through our neighborhood when we noticed a woman sitting on the stoop to her front door. She was petting a tabby cat. The cat was responding with great love and affection. His tail stuck straight up in the air and he rubbed his head against her hand.
“Your cat loves you,” J said.
“He’s not my cat,” the woman said.
“Are you sure about that?” I asked.
“He’s been hanging around our door for a couple of weeks now,” the woman explained. “I’ve been feeding him now and then, but nothing regular. I haven’t decided whether I should keep him or not, or even if I can keep him.”
“Well, as long as you don’t name him, you’re okay,” I said. “Once you name a cat, it’s all over.”
“His name is Murray,” the woman said. She sounded like she was on the verge of tears, torn between happiness and helplessness.
“I’m sorry,” J said. “But you have a cat named Murray.”
“I think you’re right,” the woman said.
Murray purred in agreement.
We understood the woman’s predicament. We got two of our cats the exact same way. A friend of ours calls them “porch pirates.” That’s a cat who takes over your porch and hangs out, begging for food and attention until you give in and let them live in your house.
The porch pirate starts out acting so sweet and helpless as if to say, “If you could just spare a few crumbs to keep me from starving and perhaps let me sleep on a dry spot on your floor, I promise to love you forever and never ever destroy your furniture.” After a few weeks of resistance, you give in and the next thing you know, the cat is sleeping on your bed, eating the fanciest cat food available, and destroys all your good furniture.
So, beware. The porch pirate is a cunning creature. They know where the cat lovers live the same way hobos used to know which house in a neighborhood was good for a free meal. The porch pirates may even leave a mark on the house as a sign to other porch pirates the same way hobos used to do. If I were to guess what mark the porch pirate leaves, it would have to be a sucker.