Monday, October 19, 2015

Disaster Averted

Something nice happened this afternoon that I feared was going to end badly.

I was sitting under a tree near the back fence supervising our cat Sweet Pea's daily outing (we've been limiting her outdoor activities since she recently spent five days up another tree, fell when the rescuer reached her, and disappeared for three days) and talking to a new cat hiding under the honeysuckle bush hoping to get her to come to me. On the other side of the chain-link fence is the parking lot of an elementary school with a playground on the same lot, and there is a cut-through between houses three doors away, so many people come through the parking lot in the course of a day. (It was empty for one more day today, after Fall Break.)

Toby, one of our tuxedos, had been hanging around on the other side of the fence supervising me talking to the new cat when he suddenly jumped over the fence. I started to scold him, warning him not to be mean to the new cat. Then it became clear why he jumped. A boy about 12-13 was chasing him, laughing. I gave the kid a cold stare. He sauntered off toward the playground maybe fifty yards away but turned to see if I was still watching him. I was, and thinking, "A--hole." He reached the playground where a couple of little girls were playing and got on a swing, which I thought was odd for a boy his age. He still swiveled his head to look at me. That's went I went in the house and told John, "I need a male presence out here." He immediately stopped what he was doing. "What happened?"

"There's a kid out here who was harassing Toby and now he's on the playground."

"What'd he do?"

"He chased Toby over the fence and laughed about it, then went on, but he's still looking at me."

We are part of the Community Cat Program and are known in the neighborhood for taking care of cats--a boy down the block still knocks on the door when he sees a gray cat, from when we were looking high and low for Sweet Pea two weeks ago--but are aware many people do not like cats and will harm them if they can get away with it. I feared this kid might be one of those.

By now we were at the back fence and I pointed out the boy still swinging on the swing set. We maintained cold stares to let him know we were watching him, taking note of what he looked like, etc.

Then he got off the swing and came toward us. We prepared for trouble--him shouting obscenities, making threats to us or the cats, even attacking us. If the day ended without violence I still foresaw keeping guard over the outdoor cats after school hours until cold weather drove the kids inside, making 100% certain all the doors are locked when we leave the house or go to bed, etc.

But when he reached us the boy said, "I'm sorry I scared your cat. I reached for her to pet her--all I wanted to do was pet her--and she jumped away." He said this all in a rush, out of breath and shaking. I stood behind John, grinning, so happy my fears were unfounded, and made sure the boy saw me smiling.

John smiled, too, and explained we're part of the community cat program and take the neighborhood ferals to be fixed, get them their shots, tipped, etc. "and any cats you see are probably part of our colony." I don't know if the boy heard him or not, he just looked relieved he was not in trouble! One of the girls from the swings had by now joined us, so now we knew why he was at the playground--he'd been sent by Mom to pick up his little sister. John talked reassuringly to them another minute or two and then shook the boy's hand.

Whew! It was nice to meet a polite young person, and a cat lover at that. If I see him again I'll be sure to wave and even introduce him to Toby, Sweet Pea, Iris, etc.

btw, Toby's full name is Tobermory, because he understands every word he hears just like in the story and could "speak our language with perfect correctness," if he so chose. (Couldn't they all?)

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