The Ukiah Daily Journal

Kitty Caper Chapter 2: The mysterious collar

- This column is the second in a series about the case of the orange kitty.

When the temperatur­es dipped down to freezing on those early days of December, I was seriously contemplat­ing my next moves with the orange kitty. The cat had been sleeping on my picnic table most nights for about a month. When I ventured outside to protect my plants from frost, it was difficult not to show the kitty what a warm place could feel like. I had already written my phone number on a Dollar Store collar and put the collar on the cat's neck. No one called. However, there might be someone just down the street standing in their bathrobe on a front porch calling sadly into the night for a lost cat.

At some point, I made a bold move and put flea medicine on the nape of the cat's neck. I planned to wait one day (for the fleas to vacate the amazingly lush, orange coat) and then see if the cat could tolerate the inside of a house.

The very next night the cat was a no-show. As I walked around with a flashlight, wearing my bathrobe and sadly calling for the cat, I found a different collar on the ground and this one had someone's else's phone number written in Sharpie pen.

My mind sprinted to the worst case scenario. Someone loved the cat and finally noticed it was wearing some stranger's collar. This cat-lover took my collar off the cat, and replaced it with their own collar.

If I called the phone number I might hear a tirade about my lack of character and the low-down bad business of trying to move in on another person's cat.

A more romantic version of the story had the cat scratching off the previous owner's collar in defiance. The cat really did love ME, ME, ME — or at least my picnic table.

To protect my tender heartstrin­gs I had to resign myself to the idea that maybe this was just not meant to be. I have survived greater disappoint­ments. If all I was allowed was a few weeks of friendship … As long as the cat was safe and cared for, I should move on to a new chapter.

I was nervous when I called the phone number on the collar I found in the yard.

The woman who answered is named Sharon.

I should have started the conversati­on with something more coherent than “I found your phone number in my yard.”

The collar, my picnic table, I swear I didn't feed it wet food …

Sharon was even more befuddled the more I spoke.

Finally, we agreed I should walk the half a block to her house and show her the picture I had taken with my phone of the cat in my yard.

Sharon is not the owner of the orange cat, but she knows it. She knows ALL the cats in the neighborho­od. Sharon is our neighborho­od kibble benefactor. She feeds any cats — stray cats, homed cats, and at some point likely a raccoon or two.

The collar belonged to Sharon's cat, the one she allows to come into her house. How and why the collar ended up near my picnic table, will remain a mystery.

My guess is that it is so busy in Sharon's yard that her own cat escaped to my yard for a bit of peace.

When I showed Sharon the picture of the orange cat, she said she thought it lived with her next-door neighbor, but she had not seen the cat around for a while.

This felt like another defeat, and I think Sharon could read the disappoint­ment on my face.

“If you ask them if you can have the cat they will probably say yes,” she said encouragin­gly. “They have a lot going on. They have three other cats and they just got a new puppy.”

Sharon and I chatted for a while longer. If nothing else, the case of the orange kitty had helped me to make a new friend.

I immediatel­y went next door and knocked on the door.

No one was home.

 ?? HEATHER HACKING — CONTRIBUTE­D ?? This column is the second in a series about the case of the orange kitty.
HEATHER HACKING — CONTRIBUTE­D This column is the second in a series about the case of the orange kitty.
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