Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ghost Kitty

This post was originally published October 31,  2010.

What better day than Halloween to introduce you to a black cat named Magic?

About two-and-a-half years ago, something mysterious took up residence under my large, wraparound porch. A there-but-not-there presence I couldn't quite see. I did catch a few phantom glimpses, though: a streak of black out of the corner of my eye, a blur of movement in the dark. Occasionally, I heard a soft, eerie mew. Bowls of food I left as offerings were emptied in the night. Once, I saw a possum scavanging the bowl in the wee hours of the morning -- but was it eating the main course or leftovers?

I took to referring to the presence as my ghost kitty. After about a month of playing hide-and-seek with my spectral guest, I began sitting on the porch steps just after dark, talking gently to the unseen spirit, and rattling the food bowl, which when it's filled with a mix of dry and wet food doesn't produce near the kind of rattle you were probably imagining.

Nevertheless, after a couple of weeks of patient coaxing, a small and timid kitten finally slunk out from under the porch. It took another couple of weeks before the kitten didn't dart off the moment I moved and another couple of weeks before he allowed me to touch him.

I didn't press him; I allowed him to come to me when he was comfortable about it. Another couple of weeks and I could pick him up and hold him while he purred for a few seconds before struggling to get down. I tossed around names such as Ghost and Spirit and Shadow for him and finally landed on Magic.

Then it was time to introduce him to the safety of the house. Gray Kitty had no doubt already made his acquaintance under the porch and was his usual accommodating self when Magic moved indoors. He promptly became Magic's surrogate mom, pouncing on the kitten and holding him down while he licked the kitten clean. They were good buddies. And when winter came, they snuggled on the warm bed with me and the dogs.

Magic, though, never lost his shy nature. No one else has ever seen more of him than a glimpse of his freakishly long tail disappearing under the porch or up the stairs. (These pictures, taken this morning, are the first proof to others that he does, indeed, exist.) And while he'll hiss and threaten when another cat bullies him, he tends to be the one to back down even though he's grown into quite a large boy.

Last fall, two other cats joined our household -- cats who took an instant dislike to Magic. During the winter, he hung out in one room as far away from them as possible where Gray Kitty kept him company. When his best bud went missing in the spring, Magic moved outdoors, back under the porch, and has only come in a couple of times -- each at my insistence -- since.

Nowadays, he comes running for breakfast and supper when I call. He'll sit in my lap for long minutes at a time and purr. But he's still afraid of every shadow and every sudden movement. As temperatures dip I'm hoping to be able to entice him back in for the winter. The other two cats will no doubt put up a grand fuss, but they'll just have to get over it. Magic was haunting this house -- and my heart -- long before they ever showed up.

H A P P Y   H A L L O W E E N !

1 comment:

Jo-Ann said...

Great blog and lovely post, Phoenix.
I'm firmly in the cat-egory of feline fancier, they're purrfect, as far as I'm concerned.
I currently have a little black gal at the moment.
I'll read your posts over the next few days.