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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Dill

To be or not to be...in the Outclaws - Part 1

Updated: Sep 25, 2020



A few weeks had passed since Kenny and Larry found Winston, hungry and tired trapped at the nearby school. The party was a hit and the talk of the neighborhood but mainly everyone was relieved to find out their favorite fixer was safe and sound. Life was returning to a sense of normalcy for everyone else except for Otis. She was deep in the thick of a new beginning, one she wasn’t sure she wanted to explore.

It all started when she helped a fellow feline, Sora in her efforts to keep a house cat from starving. This particular cat was hopeful about his new life as a wild and free member of society. But life wasn’t what Pudding, the house cat thought it would be on the outside.

Pudding left his home in a huff after his owner put him on a diet. He hopped on a truck filled with groceries and somehow ended up five states from home. He wandered tired and famished over to the pet hospital where Sora found him, shivering in the night.

He quickly decided she was his best chance of survival. But Sora couldn’t get him back to the neighborhood without Otis’s help. Otis was at the pet hospital with her human getting a checkup. Sora arranged a ride near the entrance while her human paid the bill.

Now it was different because Sora was a member of the Outclaws, a local cat organization that helped cats in need. Sora asked Otis to join the Outclaws. She agreed on principle but now she was second guessing the idea of being apart of any group at all. By choice, she was a lone wolf. Being with other cats was not her idea of fun. She liked Sora. Her pureness of heart. Her mission.

“If you join our ranks, Otis, we can finally fulfill our greatness. Your mentality is strong. We can bring a great feminine energy that the world of the forgotten pets truly needs.

“But I was not forgotten. I’m happy in my home and outside, where freedom is mine. Mine and no one else.” Otis said, firmly

“Are you truly free if your human is the one who grants you that freedom?” Sora asked, her eyes bright and shining gold.

Otis considered her words. She was right. Freedom was not given; it was a right.

“Well, I want to think on it because I’m happy with my human arrangement. It is a benefit. But I like helping too,” she said. “Why does it have to be an oath that I swear allegiance only to the group?”

“Don’t think too hard about it,” Sora said. “We are just giving a group of different cats a family to come home to.”

“Yeah, I understand that, but this way of life isn’t for everyone,” Otis said, as she gestured toward the old barn surrounded by trees. “I love this place. It is an oasis for me so close to the home where I live. But I still need to wander the streets and the wild. I accept this is for you, Sora, but I left the farm.”

Sora looked down. “So, you think you are better than the woods, the wild, better than me.”

“No! That is not what I said. I’m just stating the facts,” Otis said. “I’m giving you a glimpse into my world, my decision. I’m grateful to have a home with a human and to give that up for a larger group still feels weird to me.”

Sora nodded and leapt into the trees butting up to the barn. She probably wouldn’t return for a while in Otis’s experience with her. She was inside herself a lot, just like Otis.

Otis went back into the Outclaws Headquarters to see who else was around to visit with before she went on a run for supplies. Pudding was trying to climb up on the rafters of the century-old wooden building, but his girth prevented him from getting all the way to the loft.

“Why is it so hard to climb in this giant box of kindling?” Pudding said. “I thought the accommodations were going to be better. This is a bit remote…”

Otis surveyed his dilemma. She wasn’t all the way in the Outclaws yet, but she didn’t like Pudding making fun of the barn.

“This IS Iowa, Pudding,” Otis said. “You have to give yourself time to get used to the new surroundings.”

Pudding licked his paws clean as he rested on a beam. “I guess. But I thought you were Miss High and Mighty with your diamond-studded collar.”

Otis bowed. He was right. This silly little gift from her human did make it hard to hide when she was on the hunt.

“Just curious, Pudding, how was it with your human?” she asked. “Why did you decide to leave?”

Pudding stopped licking. His face scrunched up in disgust.

“It’s a long story. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me. I’m considering all my options and you just left everything you’ve ever known.”

“Well, before I hopped on that food truck, I was sure I totally forgotten,” Pudding said, slowly. “My human used to devote all her time to me and then suddenly she took in a bunch of randos off the street.”

“Randos?”

“Yes, randos. Little scraps of kitten who were totally unaware of how to behave in a proper, refined sitting.”

“Oh, so then you must really hate all this,” Otis said, gesturing to the stacks of used wool blankets, hay bales and ancient farm equipment.

“Not quite, at least I can come and go as I please,” he said. “With my human, I was totally reliant on her whims and schedule. I started out on Fancy Feast meals every day, then with the randos, it switched to dry food and eventually, it wasn’t even the Rachel Ray brand. Entirely preposterous that I’m eating sulfates and rotten corn in my mature age.”

“Well, I guess that sucks for you,” Otis said. She was thinking about the brand her human fed her. But she was not just eating that. She was a hunter and supplemented her diet on the natural order of things.

I’m not just any old house cat either,” Pudding said, puffing out his chest. His stomach dragging low with his fur. “I had a PhD in obedience. I studied with Dr. Famous on how to use a toilet, just like my human. I even had my own bathroom; I was so neat. Tidy cats, ha! I did not even need those little rocks. I was the tidiest of them all. And those little street cats that aren’t trainable at all!”

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