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El Gato Chupacabra Cabrillo, the Tabby Cat Who Wooed His Neighborhood

He was the biggest kitten in his litter, healthy and alert.  At first glance, he was just a regular gray tabby, but as he regarded her with a calm intelligence, she found him more and more striking.  His thick fur was more silver than gray, and the bold stripes and whorls on his body were almost dark blue.
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This is a true story.  Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

Marjorie met el Gato Chupacabra Cabrillo

Or Gato for short, at the Animal Defense League in San Antonio, Texas.

He was the biggest kitten in his litter, healthy and alert.  At first glance, he was just a regular gray tabby, but as he regarded her with a calm intelligence, she found him more and more striking.  His thick fur was more silver than gray, and the bold stripes and whorls on his body were almost dark blue.  He gave her the onceover, holding her gaze with an intense, steady stare that said “well, what are you looking at?”  Marjorie noticed that he was the only kitten in the litter who still had his whiskers.  Fun fact:  the most alpha cat in a litter will often chomp the whiskers off the other kittens.  Not cool, Gato.  Your brothers and sisters need those for balance!  

Marjorie loved him right away.  Gato was confident and smart, and she liked his attitude.  She took him home, and she did everything right.  She kitten-proofed the house, she introduced him slowly to the other cat already in residence, and she kept Gato safe inside until he was six months old and neutered.  But Gato had been born on the streets, and he complained about being an inside cat.  His position was that he was a political prisoner, held hostage against his will.  

 

Gato, the cat Marjorie found outside
El Gato Chupacabra Cabrillo.

Marjorie wrestled with the decision to let him have outdoor excursions. 

She wanted him to be happy, but above all, she wanted him to be safe.  As time passed, she also wanted him to stop destroying the house, a campaign he waged to help state his case.  Like firebombing a town to soften it up before a ground invasion.  (Another fun fact:  in a battle of wills between humans and cats in San Antonio, cats have a 93.7% chance of winning.)

She went with him the first few times while he explored the backyard.  They lived in a quiet suburban neighborhood with big yards and low speed limits.  Gato loved it so much that he wanted to spend all his time outside, and he suddenly forgot his name when it came time for Marjorie to call him home.  Exhausted and demoralized by the constant arguments (Gato fought dirty), Marjorie surrendered.  She installed a cat door.  

She trusted him.  Gato was an intelligent cat.  It was a very safe place to live, no predators around, nowhere near a busy road.  He seemed content to just lie in the grass for hours and hours.  She couldn’t stay with him, because someone had to make money to put cat food in his dish.  

A week after the cat door was installed, Marjorie got a call from her neighbor.  

“Hey, Marjorie!  Have you noticed the beautiful stray cat that’s been coming by our street?  She’s been coming into our house, and we’ve been feeding her.  She’s really sweet!  She loves the kids!  We call her Smoke.  And I noticed she hangs out a lot in your yard, you might have noticed.  I was wondering if you wanted to share in the responsibility of feeding her?  Maybe we could pool our resources. . .”

Marjorie got past her embarrassment and explained that HIS name was Gato, she got him from the homeless cat shelter six months ago, but this was his first week out of the house.  But she thanked her neighbors, as she was actually very happy that they reached out to her.  (Mostly what happens is someone just takes the cat.)

Gato obviously did all of the above and more as he wooed Marjorie’s neighbor.

Postscript:  

Gato now lives in Alabama, and during his daily walk, he visits a neighbor.  The Westie in residence has his own doggie door, which Gato finds extremely convenient.  Gato lets himself in, greets the Westie with a casual “hey dude, what’s up?” and then bunks down in one of the kid’s beds for his afternoon nap.

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