And in a tradition for guest appearances on Cat Monday, let me introduce you to Darla, the former cat. Five years ago, this little fluffball literally trotted up onto our front porch, having seen the big ultraviolet sign reading “SUCKER” on my forehead from a few miles off. She had no collar and no claws, suggesting that there was some reason why a tabby-point Himalayan was wandering loose in the neighborhood, but that reason wasn’t good. We put up signs announcing a lost cat, but without a response, and we prepared to take her on as a permanent part of the family. That might have worked, too, if Leiber hadn’t pitched such an outrageous fit at being at the absolute bottom of the food chain that we had to find her a new home before he exploded.
As it turned out, my in-laws both fell in love with her, so she got another new home and promptly took over. She also got a new name, as my mother-in-law didn’t approve of the placeholder “Fuzzbutt”. In fact, she became so used to the new situation that she now runs and hides whenever I come over to visit, as she’s afraid that I’m coming over to take her back. Five years in, and she’s now completely in charge, just the way she planned when she first meeped on the front doorstep.
In retrospect, Darla’s arrival was just one of many unannounced arrivals over the years. Cats, a couple of dogs, turtles, snakes, a screech owl, Harris’s and red-tailed hawks, possums, and even a pair of white goats when I was in high school…I step outside, and the critters just look at me as if to ask “Where’s breakfast?” I’m only half-joking when I tell people that it’s a matter of time before I step out the garage door and trip over a snoring tyrannosaur in the driveway. It would definitely be par for the course.