The Cat that Led a Double Life

2:22 PM

We have a cat named Aesop. 
A solid black, smallish cat whom we've had since my Grandma Barbara gave him to us about a year and a half ago. Since we got him as a kitten, he was an indoor cat for about 3 months until we discovered that he was very loud, particularly at 4:30 in the morning. He also got very eager to go outside, so we let him.

He never strayed far - usually snoozing under our lorapetalum bushes in the front yard. 

We've always considered him Brooklyn's cat, and she is the one who takes responsibility for feeding and watering him. And usually, doling out the love for him too. 

He occasionally comes inside to hang out, but mostly stays outside.
He loves to wrestle with Singer, and when the chickens are in the yard scratching, he stalks them.

There were a few days this winter when it was really really cold that we worried about him, because we called and called to bring him in at night, and he never came. We hoped and figured he must have a warm spot somewhere in the woods nearby.

Which brings me to the point of this tale....

Yesterday afternoon, Aesop meandered up to one of our French doors, like he usually does, to get our attention. And Brooklyn noticed immediately that he was wearing a collar. And it was not something WE had put on him.  We all ran outside to see what in the world was going on. She was quite righteously indignant.

Snug around his little black neck, there was indeed a collar with a current rabies vaccination tag dangling from it, courtesy of a local vet.  And scratched on the back of the tag was the name, "Nero".

There's no easy way to fully describe the onslaught of emotions felt by us all at that moment.
It suddenly became crystal clear that someone else thought OUR cat was THEIR cat.
I felt sick to my stomach. Brooklyn was distraught. August was stunned. Kyle was bothered, but not nearly to the degree I was. I felt betrayed, angry, upset. I was itching to get to the bottom of it all. 

It's like finding out your spouse has another family in another town. Or right across the street.
That's how I felt.

Not to mention outraged that they would consider naming our cat after Rome's most vicious, crazy, bloody emperor. Are they completely ignorant of history??

I pulled off the collar, and first thing this morning, I called the vet on the tag and explained that a huge misunderstanding had occurred. The lady on the other end of the phone was stunned, and said that the cat had been brought in twice - once to be neutered (!!!!) and another time when we would have been in Chicago. 

That made me feel even more upset. I was given the name and phone number of the "owners" in question and the street they lived on (DIRECTLY behind our street). 
Knowing that I would be completely unable to maintain even a hint of diplomacy in such a conversation, I had Kyle call them. Before he did, he was able to determine the exact house they lived in which is literally directly behind our house. My kids have accidentally kicked soccer balls in their yard before. So it's not like Aesop had really been roaming. He'd simply jumped a fence.

Anyway, the woman on the other end of the phone when Kyle explained the situation was truly and utterly floored. She said this cat had been living with them (at nights) for a year now - sleeping on their bed! 
(this made me feel even more weirded out and sick in the pit of my stomach)
She had NO idea it was anyone else's cat. She was clearly upset and told Kyle she really needed to talk to her husband about it.  She said she'd call us back. 

I feel more than ever like a woman who's found out her husband has another family. 
Except that it's really only a cat who's been playing two sides of the fence to their most fullest advantage.

Which leads us to our next step. What in the world do we do? Where do we go from here?
We're all invested.  My kids on a deep emotional level, Kyle and I on a financial level and the neighbors across the fence on an emotional and also financial level. And the thing is, cats just do their own thing regardless of what you want. Unless you lock them in as a strict inside cat - which Aesop was not having. They roam. They don't view fences as boundaries. They visit whomever they wish, whenever they wish. It's their nature. 

Kyle said he intends to go talk to the other couple tonight and return the collar to them. Figure out a plan.
Odds are, had they not put that collar on Aesop's neck, we'd have all been oblivious forever.
But now, as the saying goes, the cat's out of the bag. 
Do we let things go on as they are? Do we let them "have" him? Just stop putting out food on our end? 
Brooklyn, at the thought of someone else having her cat, has been sobbing in her room for over an hour. 

Kyle and I wondered if we should get another kitten and make it be an inside cat and hope that fills the sad spot in my daughter's heart.  As of right now, this extremely bizarre story is unfinished. 
I will write it for you as it writes itself.
In the meantime, for all you outside cat owners, let this be a lesson for you. 
There may be more to your cat than meets the eye.

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  1. Share! Be kind, they need your cat's love too.

  2. That is bizarre! You will have to post an update.