I’ve written many articles about the wonders of a backyard in Florida. You never know what kind of creature you’ll encounter here, and from Cuban Tree Frogs to Florida natives like the Softshell Turtle, we often marvel at what Mother Nature sends our way. Of late, we’ve had a domesticated visitor, and he is quite the character.
For several months, we’d see this large black and white kitty squeeze beneath the back gate and we were truly amazed “she” could fit beneath the slim space there. We took to calling her ‘Miss Kitty’, and in a short time, our dog Bear learned her name, looking everywhere for her as soon as you said it. We had no idea whose cat this was.
It was quite an experience for Bear to discover a cat out back because Bear had never been around a cat. Oddly he doesn’t approach her and yap loudly as he does when our resident possum ventures forth at night. When he sees the cat, Bear just stops in his tracks and he and the cat have a stare-down. That has become their routine for the most part.
Eventually I learned through our neighborhood association message board the cat belongs to a neighbor across the street. I told our neighbor it was fine for Miss Kitty to hang out because I figured any creature who preys on Florida mice is a friend of mine.
That’s when we got corrected. We had made a gender identification error.
‘Miss Kitty’ is actually Mr. Kitty. His name is ‘Outlaw Joey Wales.’
Outlaw Joey is usually around early in the morning when I head out back with Bear. This morning, the cat didn’t take off when he saw me. Instead he simply crouched there on the pool deck. I’d seen him try to drink water from the pool, and that concerned me so I began to set a bowl of water on the deck for him. I change it daily just as I do the water in our bird bath.
Outlaw Joey doesn’t want the fresh water in the bowl.
He likes drinking from the pool. I managed to snap a photo of him doing that this morning.
I thought cats were fearful of water. Can Joey swim? I have no idea, but I do have some concerns about his weight and the way he has to hang to get to the pool water especially in the winter months when we let the water get a little low because there’s no way we’ll swim right now with nighttime temps south of 40 degrees.
After taking a long drink this morning, Joey wandered away, heading to the area behind the pool house. He’s found a little siesta spot near our wood pile, and he seems to like hanging here while his owner is at work. I find his presence soothing. There’s no way I can have a cat in the house, and for that matter, I don’t think I could adjust to another dog inside unless, like Bear, the dog doesn’t shed and is hypoallergenic.
I never realized just how great it is when a dog doesn’t shed. Bear’s hair is like a person’s—it’s all one length and he has no undercoat.
Bear has come to tolerate Outlaw Joey. We now call the cat ‘Kitty’ although every now and then, ‘Miss Kitty’ slips out because of our initial wrong assumptions about Joey’s gender. Bear is smart. He knows Outlaw Joey could easily whip him with one paw tied behind his back. Joey is twice Bear’s size. Bear keeps his distance from Joey.
The way I look at it, we have the best of both worlds. Joey hangs here while his mom works, and he keeps the mice population down. He goes home to eat and sleep. I’m still hoping to get him to drink from the bowl, though. I’m not sure about the impact of chlorinated pool water on a cat’s tummy, although the squirrels who drink from our pool sometimes seem to be just fine.
We’ve grown fond of Outlaw Joey Wales, and he’s a welcome distraction for Bear too.
(Kay B. Day/January 19, 2021)