BUTCHIE

Before my porch was renovated and finished with lattice, it was a haven for stray cats and the occasional skunk or possum. One old guy, a large, tattered, flat-headed tom, came almost daily. I decided to be a good cat samaritan and trap and neuter him.

A week into this project, I had trapped three feral cats none of which was the cat I called Big Mac.  They became Terry, a pale tiger; a second cat I never named because he flung himself at me with claws, teeth and  a lot of noise whenever I went by his crate; and the cat who became Butchie, a chunky stripey-cat with a broad, flat head. The wild one was  neutered and released. Terry and Butch stayed in side-by-side crates being flooded with domesticity in the center of my kitchen. They were overwhelmed, which was, of course, the idea. Gradually they stopped reacting hysterically to every movement of mine, my dogs’ or any of the several other cats who  lived here.

Terry tamed very quickly and became a cuddler who would writhe in joy when I opened his crate. But he never adjusted to any other cats but Butchie. I found a home for him with an 11-year old girl who carries him around like a doll, sometimes right side up. He is well, happy and quite tame.

Butchie took a little longer to come home. He gave me a thorough chomping the first time I tried to touch him, teaching me never to approach a feral cat from the biting end. But over time, with lots of patience, he has revealed himself to be…a pussycat, a softie, a cuddle-me-elmo kind of guy.

He goes in and out many times into the pen I’ve built for the cat pack. And as often as not, he comes in talking in a soft ‘blrrth’, a call I’ve come to understand means ‘I need somebody! Who is there?’

All the cats are easy with Butchie, from the top cat to the lowest status mini-tiger, Nelson. And Butchie will go from cat to cat until he finds one who will let him snuggle up. Very occasionally, he will settle for me.

Clearly Butchie made a wrong turn somewhere. He was never meant to be a wild animal. His first year and a half outside were all a mistake. This is where he was meant to be. And a fine thing it is indeed to have Butchie home.