Readers of Blore’s Razor know that my interests are diverse. I’ll write about Big Pharma, porn stars, social conservatism, the benefits of traveling, and why I’d rather be a dad. But considering what I actually spend most of my time thinking about, it’s shocking that I haven’t written a piece about my absolute favorite topic of conversation: my neighbors’ community cat.
Meet Freak, the charming champagne tabby who visits an untold number of homes on his daily rounds. If you’ve been to my house, chances are not only have you already met His Highness, but you ask me how he is every damn time I see you. He technically belongs to Kathie and Eric Lundberg, our dear friends at the end of Hummingbird Lane, but they have accepted that keeping the Fur Prince happy entails letting him roam.
I believe this liberty is the root of my Handsome Little Gingersnap’s charisma: his relative freedom makes him a supremely satisfied being. If I were locked in a one-bedroom apartment for my entire life, you’d better believe I’d fuck up your couch and vomit in your shoes. Most cats still have one foot in the savannah and prefer some autonomy. We’re also lucky to live on a cul-de-sac, so traffic is minimal.
My Tangerine Dream has impeccable manners and social skills, particularly when he’s indoors. When he exposes his delicious fuzzy belly for rubs on the carpet, he won’t even think of using his claws. He carries conversations better than many people, altering the cadence, intonation, and frequency of his meows in response to whatever we’re discussing, never interrupting. His cutest meow is his “thank you,” which trills in a low pitch like someone rolling their Rs. This usually occurs at his tuna bowl.
The Sweet Snuggle Muffin has an uncanny sense of who needs his love and affection. My mom was here for her birthday last December, and she adores cats. That evening, she tucked into our guest room, and without any prompting, Freak slept at the foot of her bed all night—perhaps the best gift she received that day. He chose her. And when someone’s sick or sad, he always seems to show up and be there for them.
He’s so friendly with strangers that we fear he’ll jump in the back of a UPS or gardening truck, never to return. He regularly comes home smelling of wood fire or women’s perfume, and he purrs when people pick him up.
Our Bubba Sponge Cake is also very brave. A few summers ago, I was in my backyard when a thunderous boom erupted from our neighbor’s property, which was under construction. You’d expected a cat or dog to hide, but my Darling Bellini came ripping around the side of the house at full speed, sliding all paws on the gravel, standing his ground between me and the threatening sound. I laughed in awe and disbelief.
He even has an adorable routine where he shows off his prize-fighting skills. He’ll sharpen his claws on unpainted wood fences, turning to us at regular intervals to ensure we’re paying attention. When his murder mitts are ready, he’ll crouch down, ears back and looking fierce. He’ll then dart off full speed toward nothing in particular with all his might.
On our first night in our house, my Little Cornbread Cookie made the death-defying leap from our fence onto our roof, outside our bedroom window. It was around 2:00 am, and he clicked one of his claws against our screen—not ruining it, but letting us know that he’d like to be let inside. He had us so trained that we removed our bathroom screen, and he jumped in, settling at the foot of our bed, uttering his trilling meow of appreciation.
As a nocturnal dude, he often wanted to go back outside, then inside, and outside again. We were only too happy to be woken up every few hours to cater to his whims. He usually would start by jumping onto the floor and sighing heavily a few times. Then, he would issue a quiet meow, wait patiently for a minute or two, and utter a slightly louder meow. If we were still snoozing, he’d move to the door-stopper and flick it with his paw. Bow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow. He politely used it as a last resort.
A year or two after we bought our house, the Lundbergs went to Hawaii for a month, and we were taking care of my Honey Bunches of Oats full-time. After many nights of the door-stopper routine, we finally had the good sense to install a cat door.
In his younger days, he’d present his gifts to us in immaculate condition. We’ve received giant rats on our doorstep that were killed so surgically that I was unable to locate the site of the fatal wound. We’ve never had rodent problems, while our former neighbors and their two useless mongrels struggled with rats and mice.
I inject his name into many songs. One of my favorites is “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton:
He’s the greatest kitty in the world—the greatest kitty in the world!
(Work, work) Jon-a-than!
And Freakers (work, work)
For all of these reasons and more, I love my Precious Butter Biscuit unconditionally, even when he eats his tuna too fast and needs to hurl, or when he comes home looking like Sylvester Stallone at the end of Rocky 4. On that note, if I had to name a flaw, it would be Freak’s feline bloodlust. He despises all other cats and pretty regularly gets his ass kicked. But even this behavior is understandable: in his mind, he’s defending the neighborhood from interlopers.
I know that just about everyone adores their own pets, and I’m curious how many folks share the experience of spoiling a community cat or dog, or even a raccoon or crow. And how do those animals see us?
As I write this, I see him running through the rain and darting underneath the south fence of Hummingbird Lane. Whether it’s to visit the house with the wood stove, to chase off that large tuxedo cat, to nuzzle that woman with the floral perfume, or just for the thrill of getting his paws dirty, I’ll never know. He’s simply the best.