The watch cat by Dusty Hugo

Published on 1 February 2004 in Friends (Please wait)

Simon is not is real name. It’s the name given to him by my husband, jerry. Jerry figured he is a Siamese, so Simon fit. Simon is our watch cat. He will sit on the steps to our front door, and will not let man or beast cross our threshold.

Let me tell you a little about Simon. He is a blue point Siamese with the most beautiful sky-blue eyes I have ever seen. I have owned Siamese cats since childhood, and never have I seen such deep blue eyes. Simon used to live next door, in the duplex with a family that for whatever reason, didn’t take him when they moved around five or six years ago. Simon has been on his own since then. Feral cats learn from birth how to take care of themselves, and feed themselves. Simon was thrown out into the world without any training, so that makes him an abandoned cat. Most abandoned cats don’t make it, they either get hit by a car, mauled by a dog, or drink water than contains antifreeze and die a slow painful death. Somehow, Simon has managed to miss all the normal pitfalls and over the course of time, has come to mistrust humans as well. He isn’t neutered which is a good and bad thing. Good in the fact that he wont tolerate bullying by other males, bad as in contributing to the over population of feral cats.

When I married Jerry two years ago, I moved to Bakersfield, California. We live in the house that jerry has occupied over twenty years. Bakersfield is a far cry from San Diego California. To say I had culture shock is putting it mildly. When I became bored and secretly wished I could be magically relocated to San Diego, I would sit and stare out our bedroom window and started noticing Simon had taken up residence in our backyard. Jerry told me how he had been a housecat, and now was fending for himself. We have a cat of our own, Clyde, who is also a Siamese. Clyde is de-clawed and can only dream of the outside world. Clyde started looking for Simon every evening, and letting me know when he arrived in our backyard by talking up a storm. Simon would sit silently, looking at Clyde and me in the window. I started putting out some dry food for Simon and looking forward to his visits at sunset. Simon would not let me touch him, hissing if I attempted to get closer than two feet. He would eat and give me a quick look as if to say thanks and disappear over the wood fence. While he was eating, I would be taking to him, telling him what beautiful eyes he had and how could someone abandon such a spectacular Siamese cat. As the weeks grew into months, Simon became used to my voice, and would let me inch closer and closer all the time, keeping one eye on me, and the other on the food dish. He started to come when I called him, which of course now made him mine in my eyes. He even on occasion let me touch his head as he ate. When he wasn’t in the mood for contact he would hiss and I would forgo the rub on the head.

Bakersfield is very hot in the summer, over one hundred degrees every day. I would worry about Simon staying cool, and hydrated. Jerry would laugh and ask me how Simon made it through the last five years of his life without me around. One afternoon, I noticed that Simon was sitting on the front steps, following the shade as it moved across. Simon was now part of the family, he wasn’t afraid of our two dogs, a miniature poodle and a pit bull we had found living under our house around Christmas. Simon would open his eyes and cautiously watch them as they went outside to do “their business”. Simon would chase away any cat that attempted to come onto our property. He would let them drink from the bowl under the water faucet, but that was it. If they tried to sit down a spell, he ran them off. If Simon was eating, and a stray dog approached, he would stand his ground, refusing to give up his meal. He would hiss and scream until I came out to shoo them away. When the sun engulfed the entire set of steps, Simon would disappear for a few hours until sunset. He was always back on his steps after sundown, ever watchful for stray dogs or cats.

One afternoon, while Simon was holding court on the steps, I went out with the dogs. When we came back, Simon was sitting in front of the screen door, in the shady spot. I told him to move, and he just hissed at me. It was about a hundred and five degrees that day, and I wanted to get back in the house, as did the dogs. I reached down to motion him away, all the time telling him to “move his ass”. In the time it takes to blink, Simon took a swipe at my hand. I didn’t even feel it, but I sure did notice the geyser of blood flowing from the back of my right hand. Simon had hit an artery, and hit it real good. While I tried to remain calm, I opened the door, hitting Simon with it in order to gain access to the house. Blood was everywhere, and no matter how much pressure I put on the wound, it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I called my husband, who raced home and took me to an Urgent Care, where I was chastised for playing with alley cats and given a tetanus shot. My hand was now twice its normal size, due to all the blood collected under the skin. When we returned home, Simon was still on the front steps. Jerry yelled at him and kicked at him. Simon quickly vacated the steps and stood a safe distance away while we entered the house. Jerry proceeded to tell me that I could no longer feed Simon, to which my reply was “yeah, right”.

The next morning, Simon was in his usual spot waiting for his breakfast. As I opened the door, he gave me his usual hiss. I told him to knock it off, or he wasn’t going to get any more food from me. I had never heard Simon make any noise other than the hissing. When I scolded him this time, and stood there glaring at him, he suddenly let out a plaintive meow. I swear he apologized, Jerry of course wasn’t buying that. Now, it’s a little scene we do everyday, Simon hisses, I tell him to knock it off, and he meows and looks apologetic. But I don’t try to pet him anymore. But he does come running from anywhere in the neighborhood when I call him. He is still my cat, and I still fret when he doesn’t show up for a day or two. Our backyard is now a haven for about five feral cats. My husband complains I spend more money to feed them than our own cat and dogs. He is probably right. All of the feral cats know that Simon is the king of the yard, and they let him eat first. There is a heiarchy among them.

About six months ago, I saw a small feral kitten amongst the group of feral cats that I feed in our backyard. He couldn’t be more than six or eight weeks old. He is Simon’s son, there is no doubt. The kitten has the same blue point markings, and the same beautiful deep blue eyes. We thought about capturing him and trying to domesticate him, but we never did. The kitten is the only one out of all the feral cats that Simon will let eat with him. The kitten, also answers to “Simon” and is letting me get closer each week. He lives under the house now. I don’t plan on trying to pet this one.

Dusty Hugo (Bakersfield, CA, USA)

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