The Tale of Tiana, the Neurotic Stalker Cat

In the time since we’ve moved into our new house, I’ve seen a little black-and-white cat around a few times. Being a very cat-friendly person, of course I immediately set out to make friends with her — which wasn’t too hard; she’s skittish in the “can’t sit still” sense, but didn’t seem to be very afraid of people. According to her collar, her name is Tiana.

So yesterday evening I go into the backyard and see her at the far end. She makes an immediate beeline for me, which I take as a gratifying sign that Operation Befriend Tiana has been a rousing success. I pet her for a while, go fetch the thing I intended to fetch, pet her some more, and go inside. This last is a bit of an enterprise, because Tiana seems exceedingly curious about what’s in my house, and I have to time my escape so she won’t follow me in (my husband is allergic). But okay, that’s fine.

That was at 6 o’clock.

A little bit later, I notice she’s still hanging out at my back door, peering in through the blinds. This is a little odd, so I shut the blinds . . . which doesn’t shut out the sound of her meowing plaintively to be let in.

When I leave for the dojo at 7:15, she’s still out there.

I come home, have dinner, go downstairs — and at 10:30 she’s still out there, now up on the roof, behaving as if she’s not sure how to get down. My sister and I go out with a stepladder and try to lift her down, in case she’s stuck; she’s having none of it, roving back and forth with the same nonstop restlessness she’s been showing this whole time. We finally get her to jump down to the fence and then, with much encouragement, to the ground; her body language strongly implied she was nervous about making that last jump. But okay, cat off roof, mission accomplished. I go inside (she tries to follow me again), blinds shut, and do my best to ignore the cat yowling outside my door and literally scratching at it to be let in.

At 1:30 in the morning, SHE’S STILL THERE.

I read once that cats meow at the same frequency as a crying baby, which is probably an adaptation to make us want to take care of them. After three hours of Tiana outside my door, I believe it, because each tragic sound makes me feel like a terrible person. She’s got a collar and is well-fed and well-groomed enough that I don’t think she’s a stray, but this isn’t like her previous behavior, which makes me wonder if she’s gotten lost or been abandoned or something. So finally — after much debate with myself — I let her in, scoop her up and close her into the bathroom, with everything she might trash safely removed and food, water, a towel to sleep on, and some makeshift kitty litter.

Now, in the light of day it turned out that there were phone numbers on her collar, engraved so small that I when I looked the previous night I didn’t even realize they were numbers. So I called them and discovered she belongs to our neighbors a few doors down, and to make a long story short (too late), she isn’t lost or abandoned; she’s just Tiana, the Neurotic Stalker Cat. Her owner told me she was a feral adoptee, and has on one previous occasion decided that a person is her NEW BEST FRIEND and tried to move in — so her behavior, while odd, is not unprecedented. By bringing her inside, I’ve probably just encouraged her. But I couldn’t listen to that for hours on end, wondering if something was wrong, and not at least try to make her more comfortable. In the future . . . well, the last person she latched onto apparently resorted to squirting her with a water bottle to make her stop begging. It remains to be seen whether I’ll do the same. I love cats and am delighted to make friends with them, but having a crying-baby imitator outside my door gets really hard on the nerves.

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