Over the years, I’ve had many cats. Siamese, Himalayan, black, white, tuxedo, orange and gray tigers. But Beowulf – Beo – is probably the oddest cat.
My sister adopted him and his two feral siblings six years ago and gradually acclimated them to the world of people. They lived in her bedroom, then in her basement, a sprawling cellar with plenty of peculiar human things to keep them engaged and curious.
It was in this massive cellar where I first met Beo about a year ago. Mary called for him and he ambled out – not immediately, but on his own time table. He sniffed at my outstretched hand, then rolled onto his back and batted my hand. Then, perhaps to show me it was nothing personal, he started nibbling at my bare toes and rubbing his furry head against my leg.
“Okay, I’ll adopt him. Can we meet in Orlando?” That was in July 2018. In February 2019, Mary met us in Orlando with Beo.
Two days later, I kept him in his carrier for the three hour drive to South Florida and he complained the entire way. Usually, once I’m in the car, I release a cat from its carrier and they find a spot to settle in and make the trip in comfort. But I didn’t know what he might do in a car and the carrier seemed safest.
For the next 10 days, he stayed under a bed, coming out only to eat and use the litter box. Then, gradually, he discovered the outdoors, where he had begun his life as a feral cat. Nala was curious about him and whenever he came out from under the bed, she was there, trotting after him, checking him out. This photo strikes me as a standoff.
C’mon, let’s play, Nala says.
Beo: Stop buggin’ me. I’ll play when I’m ready.
Now, I suspect they go on secret adventures together. I think Nala introduced him to the world beyond our backyard and the underside of our neighbor’s camper. He has brought in his share of lizards that invariably get loose in the house, and once, a mouse. Both cats get along well with our dog, Nigel, and with Nika, Megan’s dog, when we’re visiting. He’s affectionate, but not a cuddle cat like our orange tiger, Simba, was. He prefers his own space, is rather picky about food – no table scraps for him, although he likes a dollop of any kind of yogurt.
He’s a talker. He announces his presence at the porch door, the front door, my window. His meow for food is different than his meow for, I caught a lizard! And different for that meow where he looks up at me with that handsome face, those mysterious eyes, and meows softly, as if saying, Please, human, may I spent the night on the back porch, where I can smell wilderness in the air?
Beo was a cellar cat for most of his six years and now is re-discovering his feral roots. Except. Well, he has discovered a taste for certain types of cat food and for the company of Nigel and Nika.
He’s due for his shots soon and that will entail putting him in that carrier, where he griped and complained the entire trip to his new home. I hope he doesn’t run away afterward!