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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Dill

To be or not to the Outclaws - Part 2

Later that night, Otis came back from a food supply run with a few bunches of catnip from her human’s garden. Sora nodded with approval but stayed silent.

“Can I get some help moving all this stuff in from the wagon,” Otis asked. “It’s the red radio flyer one outside.”

“Bones help Otis get the latest stuff for our new arrival,” Sora said, calling out loud enough to wake the white-pinkish hairless cat in the corner. He had one blue-white eye, blind on the right and one emerald green eye. He was ugly beautiful, worn out in a way from a life without limits or comfort. But his personality was enigmatic and that was why Otis listened when Bones spoke.

“Sure, I’ll help, but that little roly poly has to help too,” he said, pointing to the butterscotch orange cat, lounging on a blanket-covered hay bail. “Puddin, get over here.”

“Help. I guess, but only for you, Bones!” Pudding said, as he flipped his bangs out of his eyes. “I’m not really a helper, I’m a director. So, I guess you can put that stuff right over there.”

“Oh, no you don’t, Puddin,” Bones replied. “We got no need for directors out here in the boonies. You earn your fair share and you won’t starve.”

Otis watched the exchange. This was exactly why it was so hard for wild cats and domesticated ones to get along. It was a whole different order of things. She longed for a group to be a part of and give back to but hated the way everything had to be so hard. And so fair. She wished there was a more balanced approach to living together and apart.

Pudding was a different breed of cat entirely. Otis learned about his East Coast upbringing little by little, but she still wasn’t convinced he was telling her everything.

He slowly dragged the bag of dried food into the storage area. Pudding paused every few moments to rest and started coughing when the bag stirred up the dust into the air. His coughing was a constant out in the barn.

“Are you ok, Pudding?” Sora asked, checking off the goods on her list. “You’ve been coughing a lot.”

Pudding took his chance and collapsed onto the bag with the attention now on him.

“I think I’m allergic to fresh air or something,” he said. “My last owner kept us shut up all day and I never coughed like this before.”

Otis rolled her eyes to Bones. They both shared a knowing smile. Sora witnessed the exchange.

“You know, Pudding, I think you could have allergies, but we can figure out a treatment for that,” Sora said. “I know a healer.”

Pudding rolled off the bag of food and started pushing it again. He was trying his best to be a part of this new family.

“I will try anything to get rid of this cough,” Pudding said. He whispered in a quiet voice, “not anything…”

Otis finished unloading the wagon and rolled it to the entrance, a door that hinges had seen better days. It creaked in a haunting manner every time it opened.

“You need to have a guide out here, Pudding,” Bones said, cleaning his hind legs. “This is a different sorta place and I think you need to explore more than just loafing about here. I nominate Otis to show you the ropes.”

Otis dragged a claw across the wagon, leaving a white line where the paint scraped off.

“Sorry, just sharpening my claws,” she said. “What are you nominating me for?”

Sora considered the idea.

“Well, I guess that can work. It’s not the worst idea. It can kill two birds with one stone,” she said. “What do you think, Otis? Are you game?”

Otis didn’t respond right away. She looked at Pudding, her future trainee, and though she found him spoiled and narcissistic, she also found a willingness to change. Pudding finished with his task and padded back to his favorite support beam to lounge.

“Maybe I will, if Pudding wants to see a different perspective,” she said. “I run in a much wider circle so he would have to come home with me.”

Pudding looked up and met her eyes. The word home was important to him.

“You know me, I guess I’m ready to see more of this place,” he said. “Nothing can compare to my favorite place, Boston.”

Otis looked at Sora and then at Bones. They were all surprised as well.

“We thought you were from Rhode Island,” Otis said. “I’m not a geography expert but those are two different places.”

“Well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me,” he said. “My PhD was granted by the Harvard School of Obedience in Boston. My first owner left her home in Rhode Island to go to school, and eventually she was a career woman on the move.”

“So you didn’t leave your original human, you left someone else?” Sora asked. “How did you end up back in Rhode Island?”

Pudding looked down, with his long orange lashes and make an effort to remember. He seemed genuinely sad about his origin story.

“My first human, a young college student went home to Rhode Island. She answered an ad for adoption. I was the last of the litter and had watched all my brothers and sisters leave me for a different life. My mother cat was unconvinced I would ever find a home.”

“Why? We’re you small?” Bones asked, smiling. “A little runt boy?”

“I guess you could say that. Not the handsome cat I grew up to be,” he said. “As long as I have the right diet, I’m healthy. Anyways, she took me back to her apartment in Boston and we loved it. She was gone most of the day, I had the best of training and daycare. There are so many other cats in the high society of Boston that I thought I had really landed in the best place for me. But then…”

He swallowed and rolled onto his back. He was getting to the crux of the situation.

“And then she took a job where she couldn’t take me with her. So, she left me with her mom,” he said. “Her poor, sad mom who rarely left the house and couldn’t afford all the luxuries I was accustomed to.”

Otis chimed in, “Not to judge, Pudding, but that doesn’t sound so bad. At least she didn’t leave you on the streets like so many other cats.”

Pudding stayed on his back, staring at the ceiling. “I know that, but I still felt left. She abandoned me after I did everything I could to be a good companion to her. I didn’t get into fights or claw her guests. Even the ones I didn’t like, I just ignored them. What more could a human want?”

“I guess you finally settled then. No more rich treats and pampering?” Bones said.

“Sure, but that wasn’t even the worst part,” Pudding said. “When my original human came to visit her mom, she brought a tiny dog that she carried around in her purse. I mean really! It was a mean one too. She left me for a canine!”

“OK, well that is a rough story, Pudding,” Otis said. “Maybe we can find you someone who appreciates your particular talents.”

Sora looked at Otis, shaking her head no. No to anymore humans.


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