We met this sweet kitty back in January, when she politely came up to the porch and meowed for some supper:
I gave her that supper, of course, and then it became part of the kids' daily chores to make sure that Tagalong, as we named her (it was Girl Scout cookie season then, as you might recall), always had food and water. I didn't think she was abandoned, as she was a healthy weight and didn't have the look of a stray; I figured that she was simply a neighborhood roamer, a cat with a family who wasn't averse to hitting up another family for regular snack-times. I mean, you've never seen a more friendly, loving cat than Tagalong; clearly there was someone out there who was treating her right. Our own Spots, you might remember, was infamous for this in our old neighborhood, and even had people who would let her into their houses for a nap on their heating vent.
As winter moved into spring, however, it became clear that if she had some other families out there, she didn't like them as much as she liked us, and she became a fixture in our yard. I put her photo on our town's Lost and Found Pets Facebook page, although nobody on that page or in the newspaper had ever reported her missing. Matt wanted to drop her at the animal shelter, but Syd became hysterical every time he brought it up; those months that Spots was lost last year were hard on everyone, especially this kid who just wants everyone and everything to be happy.
"We can keep her for now," we finally decided, "but she is NOT coming into the house."
It wasn't long after that declaration that I let her into the house. I mean, of course. After that, she spent most of her days completely blissed out on a pillow on the couch, looking comfier than any cat has ever looked before.
The drive-in doesn't open until summer, so we don't see the owners for much of the year, but early in the season, one of the owners, Mark, stopped by to chat. As we're hanging out on the driveway discussing whatever, Tagalong comes strolling past. Mark stops mid-sentence, his mouth hanging open, then says, "CATDOG?!?"
Mark and his family live on a farm a few miles from us, and they have a lot of animals, but Catdog, a large grey tabby, was Mark's special pet. She always seemed to know when he was about to go somewhere in his truck, and she'd jump right in for the ride. But Catdog had gotten lost sometime in the winter, when Mark was working in a different state and relying on his kids to keep things going back at the farm, and nobody had ever been able to find her.
It turns out that during that winter, his boys had taken the truck over to the drive-in to check on it one day. That night was the first night that Catdog never came home to them.
The next day was when a friendly grey tabby came to our door and meowed for some supper.
We'd kept their cat for them for four months without them knowing, right next door to their own drive-in. Catdog had never had a chance to even see Mark, because I make all the animals come in on the weekends before the drive-in opens; I'd shooed her inside, some days, just as Mark was pulling in next door to prep the concession stand and open the gates.
Mark didn't want to take her back from us, because we'd had her so long and the kids clearly loved her:
But I could tell that Mark loved her, too, and frankly, our two cats never did get used to her, and bullied her something fierce. What would they all three do shut up in our house together while we enjoyed our summer travels?
Anyway, she just wasn't our cat, although we sure did love keeping her for a while:
Tagalong finally went home with Mark a few weeks later, and although she didn't want to go (we had to shut her inside an old birdcage of Mark's to get her to go with him), he reports that she's happy as a clam now and back to her usual business.
Our Spots wasn't as lucky as Tagalong when she got lost last year; she did a lot of roaming, and had gotten pretty wild by the time we found her again. She'd clearly also been treated right by a lot of people, however, and the person who called us about her said that she'd been hanging out in his neighborhood for weeks, living off of handouts. As happy as I was that Spots had some help during the time she was lost, and that we had help finding her, it also made me happy that we got this chance to take care of someone else's cat for them, too, to feed her and love her and keep her, it turns out, close enough for them to find her again.
It's lost cat karma, y'all.