Friday 10 September 2021

When you fall in love with your neighbour's cat

It happens and it will continue to happen: people falling in love with their neighbour's cat because he or she visits. This is what happened in a 'pandemic love story' by Solvej Schou writing for Associated Press. She describes a cat called Kevin who started to come around to their rented home in California more and more regularly. And gradually she and her husband Dave became more familiar with Kevin and him with them. I believe that Solvej Schou (great name) is a Los Angeles based writer and musician. She has an online bio - click here.

Pandemic love story - Kevin the much loved neighbour's cat
Pandemic love story - Kevin the much-loved neighbour's cat. Photo: AP (I'll presume it is by Solvej Schou)

And of course, the next step is that you start interacting more with your neighbour's cat and in this instance, they bought Kevin a squeaky toy. Sometimes at night she would hear a thump and see him peeking through the living room blinds. His face pressed against the glass, she said. They didn't feed Kevin or let him come inside but put a bowl of water out for him daily.

I think they did this because they wanted to respect the fact that Kevin was not part of their family. They did not want to upset Kevin's owner to use a legal term. When a person regularly interacts with a neighbour's cat within the confines of their home the owner can get the impression their cat is being stolen; if it is possible to steal a cat! It is in law but it is possible in truth? Can cats be truly owned?

One day, when she was sitting on the porch Kevin came over and jumped up onto her lap. She said that it was a big step in their relationship. And then time went by without that kind of intimate interaction until once again he jumped up on her lap while she was on the porch. She said: "I wanted to cry I was so happy".

It is a very powerful moment when a cat, normally a feral cat, actually, becomes friendly and wants to interact with you. It is something innate within people. Perhaps it is because we want to be loved. We always want to be loved and so often we are not so when a cat loves you or loves your company then it gets the emotional juices flowing.

On this occasion she petted Kevin for 20 minutes which must have cemented their relationship. She said that Kevin filled a void. This is because they had had pets before but were currently without. And then suddenly Kevin was attacked by two coyotes at night. He managed to escape up a tree but was injured. He survived with God's good grace but they didn't see him for three weeks.

She said: "If we never see Kevin again, that's okay. I'm glad he's alive."

And then sometime later Kevin crept up to the front door and onto their porch saw her and ran over to be petted. Once again, he started to visit regularly and "his affection was all-consuming". He dropped in every morning and afternoon throughout spring and summer. Kevin would be at their front door when they opened it. Kevin showed his affection by giving copious amounts of head-butts.

He also jumped on Dave's lap. At the end of summer things changed. Kevin turned up for cuddles but the sessions were shorter. And he darted off to another neighbour's home to sleep under a car.

And now they wait for him to turn up but sometimes he's not there. When he does visit, they are very happy for his presence. They put this down to the whims of a domestic cat. Cats do as they please, she said. When he shows affection, it is a joy to them.

I wonder whether Kevin's owners became a little bit concerned about the amount of time he spent with their neighbour and kept him in to try and break his habit of visiting them. The big problem with your cat visiting neighbours is that you might lose him or her. It doesn't mean that you are bad cat caregiver. It just means that your neighbours are a bit better or for some other reason your cat prefers the environment that your neighbour provides. It might just be a whim as they said.

But when you fall in love with your neighbour's cat you are on dodgy ground. You are in danger of upsetting your neighbour and you don't want that at almost any price. And you are in danger of losing your new friend which will hurt a lot.

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