Duncan and I have only one major point of contention – he wants to go outside, and I won’t let him.
All my other cats were allowed to go outside and live independent cat lives, but Duncan is my prisoner.
When I lived downtown with five cats (Mr. Jones, Catastrophe, Mean Joe, Screamer and Beethoven), in a third-floor apartment at the corner of O’Connor and Cooper, I had bars installed on the kitchen window so they could come and go as they pleased, up and down the fire escape.
Sometimes one of them would disappear for a few days, and I’d worry. But they always came home. They’d come home with burrs and battle wounds and ravenous appetites. They’d settle in for a good meal and some heavy-duty affection and deep, contented purring, followed by a long slumber.
I was always a strong advocate of letting cats go outside. Even if it made me worry. Even if it shortened their lives.
But Duncan? He’s different. He’s so unusual and trusting and affectionate. I just know that sooner or later, some little kid would drag him home and tell their mother that he followed them. (Which is something I did at the age of eight, and which, weeks later, resulted in that cat being taken to the Humane Society, for which I still feel guilty.)
Something more sinister could happen to him too. I’m still haunted by the story of serial cat killer Craig Farkas. I wonder if my beloved tomcat Bud, who went missing in the early 90s, was one of his victims.
Or something less sinister could happen. He could get run over.
Every time I leave the house, Duncan tries to squeeze past my feet into the great, alluring outdoors. I understand his need, and I hate to deny him anything, but I would be devastated if anything were to happen to him. I love this cat with all my heart and soul. Maybe it’s selfish of me, but I can’t risk losing him. He must remain safe, even if it costs him his freedom.
The other day, GC and I were outside. GC was mowing the front lawn and I was weeding the front garden. Duncan was standing on his hind legs, looking through the screen door at us and meowing sadly. I decided to let him come outside with us for a few minutes.
He was such a happy cat. He stayed close and chewed tall grass and let the breeze tickle his ears.