Ok, so here’s the part of the Fia story that makes me sad.
After we returned home from Las Vegas, Fia’s mommy emailed me to ask if Fia was with us—Fia hadn’t been home the whole time we were gone! She was worried about Fia and now I was worried too. I told her we had been out of town; I just assumed she would go back home if we weren’t here.
Now I know many of us animal lovers ascribe human emotions to our pets, and perhaps this never entered her little cat brain. But I was not only worried about where she had slept and eaten that week, I was also worried that she felt like I had abandoned her. I was worried that she was hungry, scared, and worst of all, sad--and maybe even mad at me. But mostly I was just sad to think she might have been sad. I don’t know, can cats be sad?
That night meowing woke me up around midnight—there she was at the front door. How many nights had she done that while we were gone? That thought made me even more sad! But at least she was here and safe, so I was happy and sad at the same time. The next morning I let her parents know she was safe and sound.
Over the following weeks, we worked together on a kitty intervention. When she was here for a visit once, my neighbor came over with her 9-year old daughter, who scooped Fia up to carry her back home. She cradeled Fia like a baby, rubbing her belly as Fia purred and relaxed into her arms. They both looked so happy in their reunion. I loved seeing how much Fia was loved.
And the intervention worked for a few days, but then Fia wandered back over.
So we tried some tough love—we closed the curtains and pretended we weren’t home. Her family made an extra effort to call her in at night. But when we opened up the curtains again, she resumed her visits, spending more and more time back at our house.
The final straw was after we stayed in San Francisco for a few nights. When we returned home, there was Fia, waiting at our front door. She darted in when we opened the door. She seemed shaken. When she started licking her tail, I saw a big patch of fur missing and a fresh scab. Someone had taken a bite of Fia’s tail!
So the next morning, I made Doug go up to the attic, pull out Murphy’s old dog door panel for our sliding glass door and re-install it. There was no way I was going to participate in the tough love anymore. I couldn’t handle it. I needed to know that Fia would always have a safe place to go, even when we were not home.
Over the next couple of weeks, Fia brought in two birds and one mouse (both dead by the time I found them). She also brought in 3 live but traumatized lizards. She came in and out through her new door all day long, and spent every night cuddled up with me on the bed.
Now my sadness was replaced with guilt—I had officially stolen the neighbors’ cat. I had to ‘fess up.
When I told my neighbor that it was clear from all of Fia’s dead and live offerings that she resided on our side of the fence now, my neighbor told me that as much as they hated to lose her, she understood. She told me that Fia and her cat-brother Thompson haven’t been getting along, and she thought that’s why Fia was spending all her time at our house. She didn’t want to lock her up and make her stay if she wasn’t comfortable.
I don’t know what happened between Fia and Thompson, or whether he’s the one that took a bite out of Fia’s tail. But after that conversation, I witnessed their friction first-hand. Whenever Thompson came into our yard, Fia would arch her body and growl or hiss from the safety of our family room. Whenever I see Fia get her dander up, I look outside, and there he is. I always walk outside, just to show him I’m there, and he always scampers off. And Fia knows she is safe. And we’re both happy.
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