Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Big Softie

When we bought this house, almost three years ago, we noticed a long-haired black cat hanging around outside a lot. She was, we were told, the former owner's cat; one of our neighbors had been charged with taking care of her now that the owner was gone.

Fine by me. The cat--named Cocoa, we learned--wasn't the friendliest animal I've eer met. Translation: The first time I approached her, using my very best Dr. Doolittle skills, she bit me. Hard.

Still, she's never really gotten over feelling a sense of ownership over this house, I guess, because she has always spent a lot of time over here, mostly sitting on the hood of our cars when they're not in use, but also hanging out in the backyard.

When we got Buttons, a year and a half ago, and she began going outside, we often wondered whether the various bumps and bruises and scratches and scrapes she would come home with were given to her by Cocoa. That did little to endear her to any of us.

But still, I've always had a soft spot for the little troublemaker. For one thing, Em loves her--and even though Em is a Friend To All Animals, she has a particular attachment to Cocoa, and has steadfastly refused to take hissing and running away as an answer. Over time, Cocoa has come to spend a lot more time near us, rather than heading in the other direction when she sees us.

But more importantly, the next-door neighbors, a Korean family with whom I have a hard time communicating, seem to have completely given up on taking care of her. I think it's due to allergy issues. All I know is, they now have a little yippy dog in the house, and Cocoa seem to be living exclusively outside. And she's hungry. All the time.

Now, we're in Southern California, so she's not going to freeze to death. But there are coyotes here, as we all now konw. And I can't stand to see an animal maltreated--or, rather, completely ignored. So, over the past few months, Em and I have made a more concerted effort to get Cocoa to trust us. We feed her on our porch a couple of times a day, and she's even allowed me to groom her on occasion. (She'd clearly not had a brush through her fur in a good while.) And lately, she's let me pet her, without biting, or with only the occasional, seems-more-like-playing-than-aggression nip. Not to mention her recent decision that we're safe enough for her to meander into the house and eat out of Buttons' bowl when Buttons isn't around.

Obviously, I see where this is going, and I'm fine with it. But Baroy, well, let's just say that he hadn't seemed particularly enthusiastic about expanding our family any further. Not that I asked him, mind you. But he often makes (gentle) fun of my soft heartedness around animals, and my tendency to want to save every one I come across who needs help. Add Ems' similar tendencies, and we can be a dangerous combo. Considering that I had just recently gotten his buy-in on N's fourth birthday present next month--a new kitten--I didn't think there was any reason to bring up the Cocoa question at all.

So imagine my surprise, yesterday, when Baroy suddenly said, more or less out of nowhere, "I think it's time to just start taking Cocoa in and getting her used to our house. It's just wrong the way they're treating her next door. It's just wrong." And so it will be.

The moral? Never assume. Oh, and never throw out the boxes and boxes of cat food your picky feline refuses to eat.

Now we just need to get Cocoa's buy in--not to mention cooperation from Buttons in letting a rival into her home--and we're on our way. Wish us luck.

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