The cat stared through the screen door as though Darth Vader was chasing him. “You are my only hope, G-Obi-Wan Kenobi.” I doubted that, but knew in these pandemic-plagued times there are thousands of pets being abandoned just when a person-pet bond is needed the most.
The day before materialising at our back door, this grey cat had meowed in a distressed and pitiful fashion outside our house.
Like a feline Romeo, he looked up at our balcony hoping for a comforting word and perhaps a tasty treat…
I had seen him doing similar acts of desperation at other houses. One evening when I left to buy groceries, he ran across the road in front of my car. “That darn cat,” I muttered.
And then later, well, I leaned over and a small piece of sausage happened to hit the concrete below the balcony—it was pounced upon and disappeared immediately.
The cat licked his lips and the glint in his eye said “Foolish move, human”.
Next morning he was waiting outside the door as I filled the kettle with water and popped bread into the toaster.
Tentatively he began to meow. Gradually he started a high-pitched, upset-cat mewling. As he wailed, he placed a paw on the screen door. He started twanging on the metal mesh.
One claw at a time. Ping, ping, ping…
The noise reverberated around the metal door frame. I told him to cut it out or he might impale himself “Hanging by one paw won’t get you sympathy”. Ping. Ping. Ping. He timed it just right. Every. Time.
I gave him some cooked chicken and he practically breathed it in.
Our late lamented dog would have been disgruntled to see a cat lapping at her water bowl. But I think she would have appreciated the irony; the ceramic pattern of dogs and bones.
It became apparent that he was desperate to come inside. Just what I did not need. An inside cat. With my allergies.
He was quickly named Jo-Jo. As we try to navigate the back door, you may recall The Beatles song and understand why this name stuck.
As befitted a homeless feline, Jo-Jo was lean with dull, dusty fur. I visited the local pet supplies warehouse and came out with a heavy carry bag and a lighter bank balance.
Nothing fancy, I said, he’s not my cat…
One week later and Jo-Jo is still yowling at the back door and pinging the mesh screen.
But our stray is sleeker, his meow is less anxious, and his is more accepting of the morning-evening no snacking between meals timeline. He doesn’t have the luxury of grazing because other creatures, like ants and possums, are partial to cat food.
Jo-Jo is partial to a chin-scratch.
As I type this today, Jo-Jo is languishing on our doormat in the warm autumn sun, fur gently ruffled by the breeze, safe in the knowledge that there is a cat cubby to snuggle into when the evenings grow cooler. Dozing, sleepy now…
Food source assured; a smile curves as he sleeps…
Yesterday was different. I saw a mysterious lump in the grass of our backyard. A blob of something which blowflies were finding mighty interesting.
It was a bird, a dead bird. Minus its wings. A murder scenario was easy to reconstruct, but hard to fathom. It looked more like a destructive act than a burning desire for a fresh meal. The next bird was brought to the backdoor as an offering.
A decision will have to be made on the future of Jo-Jo. Find his owner? Find a foster home? Send him to the animal shelter? Take him to the vet for a microchip scan? Cat-proof the house…? Time will tell.
A discovery has already been made—our stray waif is a ‘she’ not a ‘he’.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
RSPCA Australia COVID-19 Response
Like all of us, the RSPCA is closely monitoring the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation. We’re very aware of the possible risk to our people and impact on animals. It’s possible that minimising this risk may require some changes to our operations. For helpful advice to avoid inconvenience, please check our website and social media (Facebook, Twitter) regularly.
Information on COVID-19 and Companion Animals
There is no evidence that companion animals play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick if they are exposed to the virus. However, you should stay informed about how to minimise the effects of self-isolation or hospitalisation on your pets. View all articles related to COVID-19 on the RSPCA Knowledgebase.