For a few nights now, perhaps as many as four, I suddenly found myself noticing the sound of the cat eating. His feeding station is located outside of my Command Centre at the front of the dungeon (which feels like the back, as the exit is a long, dark walk to the stairs to the kitchen) in which I now reside.
What had changed was that, almost invariably after I turned off my light, I would hear a mighty (and mightily annoying) crunching coming from Chet's metal bowl. The breaking of kibble, the rattle of kibble against the metal dish — and more, Chet seemed to have been eating a lot during those days, his bowl needing refilling with an alarming regularity.
Well, last night I lost a battle against a heroic call to urination and staggered from my bed. For some reason, I thought to check the storage room, where Chet spends much time since he won the War of the Armoir and so established his squatter's privileges therein.
And indeed, Chet was there, a black and white ball of fur lying amidst the clutter. But as I stepped into the little room there was also a swift motion of ... something. Something small and black and rat-sized — for a brief moment I indeed wondered if Chet had somehow befriended a member of the family Rattus rattus, but the fantasy lasted only a single footstep further into the room.
As my sandaled foot came down, there came a sudden tearing sound and a tiny cat — perhaps six months old? — hurtled between my legs, slid, then smashed its hind-quarters against the wall next to the stairs to the kitchen, the proceeded apace up the stairs.
I glanced down at Chet, who stared inscrutably back. Whether he was arrogantly daring me to do something about his new friend, or perhaps apologizing for misleading me, I cannot say. He simply lay where I had found him, watching me.
Realizing I would get no answers from the cat, I took my desperate pee then went upstairs.
Just as my head rose to floor level, I heard more scrabbling and caught a glimpse of the intruder scooting behind the stove.
I threw the back door open wide and tried to entice the cat from its hiding space. The intruder didn't budge, but behind me Chet raced up the stairs and I only just managed to catch him at the door (he's been an indoor cat for many years and I confess his shots are not — yet — up-to-date; until they are, I want him to stay an indoor cat). I brought him downstairs and locked him in the bathroom, determined to rid Fort Dundas of this strange, and possibly flea-ridden (or worse) interloper, and no matter that Chet appeared to have taken it under his wing.
Though I tried soft words and an offer of tuna, and though I succeeded in evacuating it from behind the stove, the stranger, instead of using the gaping door, banged its way back downstairs, to hide now behind the non-functioning washing machine that arrogantly takes up space. I managed to flush it from there, but it then — of course — found a better hiding place yet in a cat-sized alcove behind some missing drywall at the side of the stairs. I could see it now only with the help of a flash-light.
At which point I said to hell with it. I left the back door wide and secured the passage to the stairs so that Chet could not exit — though, I hoped, the strange cat would as I slept.
As you have probably guessed, there was no sign of the interloper when I arose this morning. Happily, neither was there any sign that other unwanted strangers had paid visits during the night.