View from the North 40: Those crazed cat days of winter


April 26, 2019

I have been struggling with how to broach an indelicate personal subject with the polite words needed in a public platform such as this, but I don’t know if there is a delicate way to say that my cat Tony has fallen deeply, madly and inappropriately in love with me.

It’s a bit startling. For both of us, I think.

I get it, though, right? This is the first time he’s felt this safe and content with a human. He doesn’t know what to make of this happy feeling.

He’s always retained his early lessons for feral cat survival: only rely on yourself in a crisis and always be vigilant. Time and again over the past six years he has run away to hide during a real or perceived crisis to get as far from the problem as he needs to feel safe. He has done that even if running to us is the safer option.

The day last winter’s big cold spell hit, I rescued Tony from a couple of large, feral gangland cats that had moved into this neighborhood. They undoubtedly had tats and gold-embossed teeth they was so gansta.

Tony started living in the house 24/7 because he had to be doctored twice a day for a week, he had a 3-inch bald spot over his left hip and the temps were bitter cold. Plus we locked the kitty door into the shop to cut off the gangsters’ access to a heated clubhouse, so Tony had nowhere else to be safe from the weather.

Not only did we hang out in the house together, but, because he hates using a litter box and I hate cleaning them, I also ended up tramping a path through the snow to the barn and hanging out in the bitter cold for 20 minutes waiting for him to go potty. Yes, in two separate piles of dirt and hay chaff. In my barn. Twice a day. For a month and a half.

I would’ve been more perturbed but he was scared to be alone outside and not really happy with the situation either, plus he appreciated having a bodyguard who was 20 times bigger than the gangster thugs.

When we would return to the house, I’d make sure the heated mattress pad was turned up on my side of the bed so he could warm his little kitty feet and that bald spot. He would spend the days hanging out in the house, and at night he’d wait for me to finish my shower and we’d go to bed. He needed about two minutes of petting then he’d curl up at my feet to sleep the night.

It was very Norman Rockwell-ish.

Tony finally relied on us when he was scared and sometimes he would stay curled up so soundly asleep that he didn’t wake up when we walked into the room. Even the times he did wake up, he didn’t panic and hide, he’d just flick an ear our direction or look at us like we needed to hold down the noise so he could sleep a little while longer.

It felt like a miracle.

And then things got creepy.

You know how cats will do that kneading action when they’re content? That was his thing to do on occasion, purring

About a month into his new house cat status, that changed. He was kneading the covers with all the contented, slow comfort of someone jacked up on speed. He wouldn’t stop, and he got all crazy-eyed and yowling when I tried to shut it down.

Out of self-defense of my sleep patterns, I finally got a spray bottle of water to douse his flame.

I’ve been trying to explain to him that he can love me without loooving me. The fact that he has been a neutered eunuch for six years is moot point next to the reality that cross-species relationships are doomed to failure. Any dog who has fallen in love with a human leg on a Wednesday can tell you that.

With the warm weather — and the occasional application of the spray bottle — he’s been settling down. Still, I’m open to taking him to a therapist to help him get right in his head. Just because I don’t loooove him doesn’t mean I don’t love him.


He even ran to us for protection last week, that’s progress at


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