I wouldn’t say that any of my feral cats are my “favorite” cat. Because I like them all, for different reasons. But Blondie is really special.
For one thing, she was among the first litter of feral cats I connected with. So I’ve known her the longest It was Blondie, King Cat and Panther Joe back in 2007. And only Blondie is still around, seven years later. They popped up out of nowhere in the woods. They were about 6 months old. Right in between being kittens and adults. Their mother, who looked like Blondie, had been hit by a car. I remember spotting her body on the side of the road one morning. She had probably been rooting around in the garbage cans near the road to bring back food for her kittens. So there was something noble about her sacrifice. But now her kittens were on there own.
It was fascinating watching them over a period of months. As they gradually inched closer and closer to the cat food dish that I put out at the bottom of the hill by the creek. First they started out about 100 yards up the hill, watching me cautiously and fearfully. But pretty soon they were practically right in my lap.
Blondie never lost her feral reserve. Even after 7 years I’ve never petted her. She constantly approaches me. Will come within a couple inches of me. But if I so much as make the slightest move towards her, she’ll immediately jump back five or ten feet. Like I’ve violated her personal space or something. Ha ha.
She reminds me of the ever-reserved, ever-prim and proper matriarch. She probably thinks of herself as the Queen of England or something. Ha ha. But over the years, there’s developed this strange sense of “unrequited love” between us, almost. Like sometimes, when Moo Cat is lying on my chest, purring away as I pet her, Blondie will be sitting there ten feet away. Watching us. And I always wonder if she’s thinking: “Ya know, I wish that was me sitting there on that guy’s chest getting petted. For one thing, it would put me one step closer to the food supply (me).”
Anyways, last night, around midnight, Blondie was waiting for me at the foot of the trail to my campsite. Like she often does. She had probably been waiting for me for several hours. As soon as she saw me she sprinted up in the direction of my campsite. With me following right behind her. And her blur of white fur was like a beacon that helped lead me up to my campsite. It’s one of the many practical ways that the feral cats are quite helpful to me, aside from the obvious companionship angle. For one thing, Blondie’s presence always clues me in that there are no other humans lurking around in the deep, dark woods. Which is a great relief to know, needless to say. In that sense, my feral cats are like watch-dogs, that constantly alert me whenever another human is approaching (though I’m sure they hate being referred to as “watch dogs” — ha ha).
Like I said, I never pet Blondie. But last night she did an odd thing. As I’m taking the cat food out of my backpack, Blondie is sitting in the darkness about 5 feet away from me, watching me like a hawk, anxious to be fed. And I don’t know if it was because she sensed she had a great score that night (I had ground-scored six of these barbecued chicken legs — meat-on-the-bone, the feral cats favorite!). But Blondie started doing this weird thing. She started rolling around on the ground. Rubbing her head on the ground. Rubbing that spot on the side of the ear that cats love to be petted on. It was like she was petting herself. She’s rolling around on the ground, rolling over on her back. You could tell she was just over-joyed. Just ecstatic about the whole situation. That she’s about to be fed this delicious food in the middle of the deep, dark woods. Something she never takes for granted, that’s for sure. It was like little Miss Prim-and-Proper had finally broken down from her steely reserve. And to me, it kind of felt like: “Well, I’m not petting her physically. But I’m petting her psychically.” What do they call that? It was like I was petting her by telekinesis.
Blondie ate away at that chicken for about 25 minutes. Periodically I’d look up at her blur of white fur in the darkness. Listening to her crunching up those chicken bones. At one point, Feral Tom, the dastardly one, showed up and tried to get at the food.. But Blondie hissed at him and held her ground. Finally when she was done eating, she ran over to where I was lying in my sleeping bag, ran right passed my head, and disappeared off into the woods.