While my husband and I are decidedly dog people, we have both had our share of cats growing up. Being that we already had three pups, we weren't exactly looking to grow our small furry family. However, the night we moved in, a large orange cat appeared on our back deck. He was peering in through the glass panes in the door. He seemed comfortable. He seemed familiar with the house. He seemed like he wasn't going anywhere any time soon.
Petunia was the first to notice him. At first they seemed to have some kind of staring contest, with neither flinching even a tiny bit. My dogs had not really been exposed to cats, and she seemed to be a bit confused. She turned her head to the side and squealed. Then she decided to attack. The glass door was the only thing between them. She barked. She howled. She got the attention of our other dogs. That is when it all went to hell.
It all happened in a flash. Meatball lunged and pushed the door open. Harriet attacked Petunia. The cat swiped his paw across Meatball's nose. My husband and I pulled the girls apart. The cat remained still. Clearly, this was not his first dog rodeo. Luckily, none of the dogs were hurt, but it was clear this cat had to go.
When we talked to the previous owner of our house, she said the cat wasn't theirs, and that the neighborhood fed him. Also that his name was Taco and he was thirteen years old. We thought that maybe we could deter the cat from coming around here. Obviously our dogs couldn't handle it, and there was so much stress involved with the move already. The dogs were here first. Then we met our neighbors.
Our house came on a nice big lot in a very woodsy area. Along with the deer and the squirrels and enormous hawks (and rumors of a bear) come the snakes. It was no secret that there are copperheads in this area, and I was completely terrified of them. Apparently that is why the previous owner bought Taco. The consensus from a few of the the neighbors is that he comes from a long line of copperhead killing cats. There were tales of his crawling back to the house with a constrictor wrapped around him. He was brave and he was old and our garage came with a cat door.
So we decided to give him a shot. We went out to Petsmart and researched and then purchased cat food and a bed. We encouraged him to use the cat door. On the third night he brought my husband a mouse. He was so proud as he dropped it at his feet. He could have the garage and the dogs could have the rest of the house. He had obviously earned his place long before we arrived here.
So now we have a cat. A loving, sweet boy who wants nothing more than a warm lap and scratches on the head and to help us decorate our yard for the holidays. A cat who stays away from the back deck and the ire of our protective and befuddled dogs.
As much as I would love to end this post by letting you know that we all lived happily ever after, it is far from the truth. Things have worked out well in keeping the dogs and cat separated, but that night was also the beginning of something more sinister. It was the beginning of the end of Petunia and Harriet getting along. Things would get so much worse, and I didn't even know it yet.