Updated October 21, 2016.
I was a hobo cat, a super tramp, of sorts, but everyone has to grow up sometime. In my case, I was thrust out into this mean old world way too young and on my own. My education was from the street. Nothing fancy here, just lots of bad days followed by cold and lonely miserable nights. I would struggle by myself, well there were a couple of humans that helped me out now and again, and this is how I met them. But mostly I was a loner . . . a hobo cat.
Things were tough for a stray feline on the streets of San Diego; always being hungry never knowing where my next meal was coming from and never having the protection of a family. But I am cute (see picture) and that helped with the humans I met along the way.
I am what the Vet calls a Bi-color that is to say, I am a white cat with a deep gray cape and hood. I weigh in at around ten pounds, well maybe fifteen. I stand 11.5 inches at the shoulder and have a powerful build. People call me, an American Shorthair, though my mom and dad and close friends call me Max, or the Maxtor, if we are being informal. In the trailer park where we all live, there is a gal who is the manager she calls me a trouble-maker and would like nothing better than to see me hauled off to the pound never to be seen again. That’s what happens to most hobo cats.
But, I digress. Today my only problem was staying out of the clutches of my dad. He wants to take me to this thing called a cat show. Sometimes, I think he’s a little nuts and so does my Mom. After all, I wasn’t born with a pedigree (unless being a hobo cat counts as one). I am just a good looking guy with a rough purr and what my mom calls “snorking.” That’s when I open and breath in through my mouth; humans love it when I snork at them and I use it to get what I want from people. Like this morning, I circled around and around my mom’s legs letting my soft fur tickle her ankles.
She would step away and shake her finger at me saying “Oh you are a pest,” and “I know what you want.” I stretched out fully so she could see my magnificent body and looked at her with my lustful yellow eyes. We were standing beside the kitchen door she bent over and asked in her Mom’s soothing voice, “You want to go out, there big guy?”
I stood up and placed my front paws on the glass door. Then, I looked up at Mom and snorked. She smiled and opened the door just as Dad walked into the kitchen. I scooted out onto the deck and trotted to the rear steps. As I launched myself out into the backyard I heard Dad say loudly, “Cat show”, again. Mom told him he was nuts, (see, I told you) and I have been dodging my dad ever since.
Finally, I found a place to hide and settled down to outwait my dad as he searched for me. He went from bush to bush. I could tell he was mad because he was constantly talking to himself. As a hobo cat, I had learned how to hide and not be found. The effort to hold my eyes open was just too great.
My mind drifted, and this ongoing dream from the hobo cat days of my youth, began. Faces filled my senses and before I knew it, I was waking up, one eyeball at a time. But, instead of here at home, I found myself under a strange house lying on dirt. Above me were large, very long pieces of wood. A sort of dirty cool atmosphere surrounded me . . . a hobo cat shanty, of sorts. All at once, I realized that I was extremely parched; I’d not had a drink of water all morning.
I started to get up, first stretching out my front legs; then the stretch traveled on its own and moved past my legs up to my shoulders, then down my back. Sometimes I arch my back, but this morning I just let the stretch sweep down to my tailbone. I sat up and yawned, which often follows a good stretch.
Outside were a lot of loud noises. This house I had taken refuge under was vacant, and no one was going to pay any attention to me sleeping underneath it. I popped out from the crawl space to investigate the loud sound. A couple of guys were working on the roof of the house. A “remodel” is what I heard them call it. These two fellas would sometimes give me little bits of some odd looking meat. Yuck. But I wolfed them down anyway, I was so hungry!
On this day, the sun was beating down and the guys were in the process of packing up all their tools to leave. Any chance of getting something to drink was looking slim. Before I could totally wake up, they rolled down the steep driveway and drove away. The bright sunlight hurt my eyes as I poked my nose out of the crawl space.
I had picked this spot because there was shelter under the house. The first night I had to fight for it. A couple of small skunks had taken up residence in one corner of the space. I got into a fight with one. We had a boxing match, but before he could cut loose with his secret weapon, I scooted into a far corner to safety. In the morning, they were gone and never did come back.
It was the neighborhood tomcats and other hobo cats that kept me hoppin’. Every night after the neighborhood had settled down and gone all quiet, they would show up. Both were old and mangy. I’d never seen hobo cats so beaten up. With the exception of the occasional small gopher popping in, and leaving in a rush with me in hot pursuit, the space was all mine.
I begged from the guys working on the roof, but I never got much. To make matters worse, I had dropped weight and went to sleep hungry. During the day, I could get a little bit of water from out of the sprinklers next door, but it was always dirty and had bits of grass floating in it. The trick was to get to the sprinklers quickly before it drained into the ground. As mid-summer approached, the water was drying up in seconds, leaving a small muddy puddle behind, and then just mud. Besides, the lady who watered didn’t do it every day.
Today, she was leisurely watering with a garden hose; I slipped out of the shadows of the house and stepped onto the driveway. The sun beat down on the concrete and waves of heat danced about. I tried my best to keep my fur standing up to vent myself, but the only thing I could do for relief was to hang out my tongue. I crept into the the shrubbery and squeezed between two small bushes. The water made this incredible sound. To hear it better I stuck my head out from under some low-hanging branches.
She stood there, not more than eight feet away. Instinct told me to hold my position and be safe. She didn’t look threatening. She was tall and seemed to tower over everything. All the while she turned slowly, letting the water fall where it may. Mustering my courage, I made a break from the flage and sprinted to the water. She had not seen me and continued to flip the hose from one spot to another. She moved it so fast that I couldn’t get a taste of it. I decided on more direct action; I ran straight at her, and then head-butted her. She stopped and looked down. Then, she lowered the water hose so I could get to it. With one paw on her hand and the other on the ground, I stuck out my tongue to lap up my first-ever cold water out of a garden hose. It was clean. It filled my mouth as I worked my tongue, gathering it up in my cat’s fashion. She let me drink my fill. Then, she petted my head. I leaned over to her, rubbing up against her leg . . . I felt good for the first time in a long time, a very rare experience for a hobo cat.
She let me have all of the water I wanted to drink until I thought I’d burst. Sitting down, I looked up at her. She smiled, picked me up and held me up to her shoulder as we walked across the yard, to the driveway and into her backyard. It was an incredible yard, a veritable jungle of plants . . . lots of other stuff, too. It looked like a lot of yards I’d traveled through, but had never stopped in for any length of time. I was perched on her shoulder as she tenderly petted me down my back. I snuggled in her neck while taking note of everything I saw.
Beyond the porch, an open door beckoned. Wide-eyed, I gazed at everything in the rooms, the couches and chairs, bookshelves and that thing called, "TV" (the first I’d ever seen); then, down a long hallway.
I was incredibly excited when we finally came to a room with a large bed in it. At the far side, through a window, you could actually look out and see the front yard where I’d been minutes before. In the dim light, I saw a man sleeping. The sheets covered him at mid-length. An overhead fan twirled at an easy pace.
Holding me close to her chest, she touched him along his exposed leg. He came around, blinking his eyes at us, just like I do. I meowed softly, not wishing to appear rude, and held out a paw. Even though I was a hobo cat, I tried to look presentable, but also felt a little vulnerable.
The words she spoke changed my life forever . . .
. . . "Hey, Dad” Her tone was easy with an edge of excitement. “We’re new parents,” she said.
My life changed abruptly . . . I was a hobo cat no more!
From this day onward I was never alone and never hungry, but there was a price I had to pay to win my freedom. Slowly, I have been working on my parents in the ways of cats and those things we all hold dear. It’s still a bit confusing for them, but I am sure that they’ll figure it out.
Besides no one can resist me for long . . .
. . . and the snorks help, too.