Some readers may recall that in November, I acquired my first Mexican cat, another orange and white, as my previous cats had been. I like orange cats, and it was my intention, once I got settled in Mexico, to find myself one. Or rather, I was hoping he’d find me.
My little 7 lb. cat, on the right, holding his ground, against 20 pound Oliver. The picture was taken at Oliver’s house, where the cats had play dates while I visited with my friend. Ollie was left to me in his Mom’s will. I was the obvious choice since our two cats spent lots of time together, including many weekends in the country, and once his Mom got ill, he spent a full six months with us, until he came to stay for good.
One orange kitten did find me, or rather, he was brought to me, found on the street, practically an infant. I agreed to keep him until a home could be found, as I had little interest in a new born kitten.
I had no intention of keeping this kitten, although, in a post, since deleted, I mulled over what to name him. It was my intention to name my next pet Lucas, after one of my favorite Richard Armitage characters, Lucas North, but I refused to name this cat, as he was only with me ” on spec” and anyway, an orange and white cat was so not Lucas North, that I abandoned the idea.
Eventually, my maid brought me one of her five cats ( unsolicited, I might add), and after deliberating about him, I asked her to take him home. But there must have been a language barrier, because the second night, I saw an orange cat streak past me in the bedroom. He’d been hiding somewhere, with no food or water for almost two full days.)
Him, I decided to keep, and it turned out to be a good thing. He’s a great cat.
I went through the angst of naming him. Again, Lucas North would not suit, for the same reasons it didn’t suit the name for the kitten, so I settled on Mulligan, or Mully, for short, after Richard Armitage’s character, John Mulligan.
For a while, I had serious problems with Mulligan, who would disappear for hours, sometimes overnight, even though I kept the patio doors closed. It turned out he was escaping by jumping up to what I thought was some duct work in the bathroom, and escaping through a loose teja, one of the roof tiles that make up many Mexican roofs.
I actually watched him once, as he used his paw to push one tile away from another and get out the smallest opening one can imagine. Where he went, or what he did those nights, I don’t know, but eventually, the escape route was blocked, and Mully was allowed out on the patio during the day only, where he was free to climb the giant Plumeria tree and roam around the surrounding walls, and who knows where else. Good cat that he was though, even when I forgot to close the patio door at night, Mully would come home when called.
So, when this July, I found it necessary to move house, ( one reason for the dearth of serious posts of late), I was a little concerned when the house I selected meant Mully would lose some perks. One perk he lost was that this patio has no planted garden. It’s a potted garden, and Mully is no longer able to use the garden as a litter box. ( Also a lost perk for me).
The second lost perk was that this patio has no trees, and high walls, so it is impossible for Mulligan to get out and roam. I worried that he might be bored and lonely.
On the plus side, however, my last place had no view to the street. The front door, on the street, was solid metal which opened to a long hall. One walked through the hall and made a right turn into the rest of the house. Mully rarely if ever went into the hall.
On the other hand, this new house has a wonderful entrance. It has a gated door on the street, and one walks through a partly roofed, partly open entrance way to the very secure, triple glass front door. The front door is exactly lined up with the back door, allowing lots of cross breezes from the mountains and lake. So for once, Mully could, even from a distance, relax at the front door and watch the world move by ( such as it is) on the street.
There’s always something to see. If you look closely, you can see, at the bottom of the gate, in the street, is a painted hopscotch court, and not a child (or sometimes even an adult) walks by without trying it out.
On the second day after I moved in, I looked out my front door and saw, just sitting there, a charcoal gray cat with beautiful blue/gray eyes. Mully came to investigate also, and the cats had a staring contest through the screen.
The cat came day after day, and eventually, after discussing it with my landlord and neighbor, I learned that the cat had been rescued with other kittens, and more or less belonged to the neighborhood. The tenant before me fed him, and that’s why he was there. He was also there to torment the caged roof dog next door, for it was down the roof steps that he made his entrance to my actual front door.
So, I started leaving food out for him. And because it was so fitting, and because fate had her way, I named the cat Lucas North – a perfect name, considering his coloring, his eyes, and his resourcefulness in finding a good place to eat and a safe house. ( He now takes afternoon siestas in a box outside the door, and generally comes and goes as he pleases.)
So finally, I had my Lucas North – an outdoor cat, stealthy and fearless – sometimes.
But some odd things happened. For one, sometimes I knew the cat was coming because the dog upstairs would bark her brains out. Other times, he would just appear after a desultory bark from upstairs.
At times, Mully was very interested in the cat, and would sometimes hang out at the door, as the two flirted with one another, through the door.
At other times, Mully had no interest and would walk away once he took a quick look at the cat.
On the third or fourth day of Lucas’s arrival, or rather, his acceptance, I fed Mulligan in the morning, but he continued to cry for food – barely touching his own, until I saw Lucas North’s silhouette at the door. I fed Lucas, and Mully was satisfied. So now, he was pimping food for the other cat.
The other odd thing was that most of the time, I would go out and feed Lucas, who would chirp and stand nearby, and generally hang around. Other times, he would flee through the front gate, and come back only after I had left.
Once, he walked right into the house and sniffed Mully, who sniffed back. Another time he walked into the house and Mully chased him out.
I also noticed that, after being treated to canned tuna or other canned food, he would often reject just dry food, while other times, he was happy to have it.
Another oddity, I thought, for a street cat, was sometimes he would leave food over, especially if it was dry food. Also, sometimes, after eating a really good meal, he would reappear in only about 20 minutes, begging for more.
Lucas North was, indeed, a cat of contradictions, and I never knew which version of him I would see. But I figured, I now have an outdoor cat and an indoor cat. Mully has a friend and I finally got my Lucas North.
Lucas shows up like clockwork in the morning at 7 a.m. when I wake to feed Mully ( and him) and in the evening for his second meal. As I said, he often spends the siesta time sleeping outside the door in a carton that just happened to remain after the move.
The other night, I felt a stab of sadness as I watched Lucas through the door. It was dark and I could just make out his shape. I was playing with Mully, as I always do before bed – this time the game was throwing a ball down the hallway, and Mully chased and pounced at it. I noticed Lucas watching, but a little distance from the door. And then he moved closer and closer until his nose was up against the door. Mully on the other hand, was showing off, tossing the ball, somersaulting, and having a rousing good time, all right near the door.
It reminded me of a movie my mother once told me the plot of – Stella Dallas, in which Barbara Stanwick, as a rejected mother watched through a picture window, standing out in the cold rain, as her daughter married a wealthy and prominent man.
The next day I put a toy out for Lucas, but he had no clue what to do with it. He simply ran away through the gate.
I tried again, a day later, and this time he batted the straw mouse around a little, pounced, and then placed it in his box, (where he is right this minute, sleeping).
A day later, he sneaked into the house ( I think Mulligan helped) – and before I knew it, he was in the back room. He took one look around, and made his way straight to Mulligan’s toy box where he rooted through the contents and absconded with a crinkle ball, which I later found in his bed outdoors.
Lucas North’s approach/avoidance, practically schizophrenic behavior, and Mully’s varied lukewarm reception at times, and hearty greetings at others, made for some head scratching.
Until the morning I looked out the front door as usual, and saw two identical gray cats sitting at the front door.
I went out to feed them, and sure as rain, one of them scampered away through the front gate, and the other hung around to be fed. Twenty minutes later, the two were there again, and again, the second cat ran away when I went out to give him some food.
I can’t tell the difference from looking at them. The scaredy cat won’t let me close enough. It is only their behavior that lets me know who might be whom.
So, it turns out, fate had an even bigger surprise for me. Not only did I finally get Lucas North; it seems I got John Bateman as well.