Skunk and Pepe

I have outdoor cats.  Two of them.  Throughout my college years and my time in India, I waited anxiously for the day that I could get a cat.  I waited anxiously for a lot of other things too, but those are posts for other days.  Just a few short months after arriving back in the US, I asked my stepmom and my dad, who I was staying with while deciding where to settle, if I could please get my cat.  There was an ad in the paper telling about a cat in my price range that needed a home.  In case you were wondering, yes, my price range was $0-$.01. 

Upon their approval, I drove over to get my cat.  He was a small, young cat, a few months old.  He had been raised outside, but occasionally came in to watch tv with the older couple who owned his momma.  I decided to wait a few days before naming him, so I could pick out a name that suited him.  Dad soon came up with the suggestion that I name him “Chicago, the windy kitty.”  I explained very patiently that since I was thinking of moving to the Chicago suburbs in just a few months, there was no way that I was going to name my cat Chicago. He then informed me that the name Chicago was the old Indian name of a swamp plant that grew on the banks of Lake Michigan, and that the English name of the plant was Skunk Cabbage.  He then proceeded to call my cat Skunk Cabbage.  I gave up.Image


I took him to Lombard with me, and brought him back again 16 months later.  Moved back in at Dad’s until I qualified for a mortgage and then promptly bought my house at the auction.  I took a stray cat that showed up at Dad’s with me when I left.  She had kittens, then 3 months later got squished.  (That often happens to outside cats.)  So I had Skunk and 3 half grown kittens.  Then, in the fall another stray showed up.  This time a cute little tiny black kitten.  It only stayed a few days before disappearing.

One winter evening as I was on my way to work, I stepped outside into the frigid darkness and Skunk rushed past me into the warm house.  “Ah… why not?” I questioned.  I had a litterbox and such inside from our time in the suburbs.  The remaining half grown kitten dashed in next.  Then just as I was shutting the door a third cat dashed in.  “Oh, look that black kitten is back.” I thought as I locked up and headed to work.  Three miles down the road I started thinking. 

“The little black kitten would still be quite small.  That was a cat, a large cat.  That was not my cat.  Oh no!!!”  But if I turned around to catch it and return it to the cold night from whence it came, I would be seriously late for work.  “Late for work or house in shambles?”  “Late for work or giant cat fight in my house?”  I chose to be on time for work.

That darn cat was so scared of me that I couldn’t get it out until springtime.  I named it Pepe.  Lipok named it “that cagey cat!”   Pepe has mellowed considerably and though still quite the scaredy-cat, now enjoys being petted.  He does not, however, enjoy having his picture taken.  So, this is the best I can do.  In this picture taken last summer, he is hiding beside the neighbor’s tree.



So, now it is cold again and though I swore that they were staying outside now that I have small children in the house, I felt so sorry for them that I filled up the litterbox with fresh litter and put it in the attic, put food and water bowls on top of the washing machine and invited the cats in until spring.

Tia is thrilled.  My toes are toasty warm while I sleep, due to Pepe’s self-perceived calling of foot-warmer.  And our house is just a little bit fuller.


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