Two cats live at our house. Two fluffy orange cats. Every afternoon when I get home, Noodles, our indoor cat, is waiting for me at the front door. He darts out before the door is even open all the way, anxious to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. Noodles is always ready to come back inside, though, and curl up with me on the couch.
Bo is an outdoor cat. He adopted us; just started hanging around. At first we tried to shoo him away, but he kept turning up. I asked the neighbors if anyone was missing their cat, but no one knew anything about him. So I started feeding him. My husband was against this, said we didn’t need a stray hanging around. But Bo looked so sad. He’d clearly been in his share of fights, and his coat was matted and unkempt.
At first he scurried away whenever we were outside. He found a way into a ramshackle storage shed behind the garage and made a home for himself there. Whenever I left food on the porch, he’d slink up, gobble down the kibble, then run away to his hiding place after he was full.
Then he started sleeping on the wicker settee on the porch if the weather was fine. He still ran away if he saw us, but not all the way back to the shed. He stopped hissing at me when I brought food out for him.
Now, he’s part of the scenery. I named him Bo because I thought he was very bold to just make himself at home here. His hardscrabble looks also made me think of the song “Mr. Bojangles.” He waits by the front door every morning for his breakfast and doesn’t run away when I come outside. He seems content enough, but still doesn’t let me get close enough to pet him. And I’ve noticed that he always sleeps with his legs under him, ready to bolt at the first sign of danger.
He reminds me of a student who lived in our town for a short time a few years ago. He had been in a series of foster homes, and had a tough, gruff exterior. He didn’t act out or cause trouble, but he never looked completely comfortable or relaxed. He always looked ready to bolt.
I won’t ever know where Bo got his scars or how he landed on our doorstep. All I do know is that he needed a home and someone to care for him. I hope someday he’ll let me pet him. In the meantime, he reminds me everyday that sometimes the children who put up the toughest barriers are the ones who need our love the most.