One nice day in early spring, our neighbor took her daughter to Arkansas for a three week long visit and never came back. She had told no one of her plans not even her husband of nine years, the father of their child.
The house next door to ours where the three of them have lived for the past five years seems very empty, almost haunted by their lack of presence. There are kid toys in the side yard, a child’s lawn chair on the deck. I have hesitated to write about this because there is no way to get all the details, to get both sides of the story. I only know that she did not speak ill of her husband and their daughter always seemed very overjoyed to see him when he came home from his job as a mailman. I don’t believe there was anything sinister going on in the house next door. Mr. Neighbor Guy seems like a nice normal man.
Mr. Neighbor Guy for the past four months has lived alone in the house next to us. Husband has talked to him twice since the leaving and the guy seems genuinely devastated. He still wears his wedding ring. His daughter’s car seats are still in their cars for he can not bring himself to take them out. He says that over the past year or two his wife had gotten more devoted to her religion whereas he had not. His wife’s parents are also strongly religious. They drove out here in their RV from Arkansas, stayed for a month or so and then one day left with his wife and child on what he thought was a short visit. Evidentially she knew she was not coming back as she had a mobile home purchased and put together on a lot next to her parents house and that is where her and the daughter are living.
We only found out about this odd situation because of the cats. As some of you know Delilah, whom I have referred to as the-cat-who-is-not-our-cat, is/was theirs along with a gorgeous white male cat named Bleu. Both cats used to be strictly indoor cats until Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor had their daughter and moved next door to us. Mrs. Neighbor Lady was strangely concerned with the thought that cats and their germs could hurt their child so she booted the cats out, giving them a cat door into their garage but no longer entrance to their house.
Last winter Delilah decided to adopt us, pawing at the front door asking to be let in. We let her in. Feeling guilty because she was not technically our cat we would put her out at night and we never feed her. We thought of ourselves as awful people on the cold winter nights we put her out. We started leaving a heated pad under a towel on a lawn chair next to our front door where she would sleep during the night. We finally broke down and told Mrs. Neighbor Lady that Delilah was spending a lot of time in our house and asked if she would mind if we let her stay the night and if we could feed her. She seemed happy about it and even made a strange comment that now makes sense. She told me she was glad Delilah had someone to take care of her in case they ever had to move away. I thought, how strange that they would consider moving and not take their cats, but I said nothing, relieved that she let us “have” Delilah.
After the shock wore off from hearing she had taken their daughter and left, my thoughts selfishly turned to Mr. Neighbor Guy’s plans. What if he moved? Would he take “our” cat? We got an email from him a month or so ago. I sped read it thinking, don’t take Delilah, don’t take Delilah, don’t take Delilah. He did not want to take Delilah. In fact he wanted to know if we would adopt both Delilah and Bleu. He pointed out the apartment he is moving into can accept pets but he did not think it fair to lock the cats up indoors after their years of outdoor freedom. We are all about taking Delilah but Bleu is a different story.
Bleu is shy and skittish. He does not visit our yard very often and has never shown an interest in coming in our house. I don’t think he would enjoy sharing a home with a nervous barky German Shepard and two loud quick moving boys. We can not force him to live with us and I don’t think he would want us to.
Here are the options Husband and I have come up with. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
- Allow Bleu to be strictly an outdoor cat but make sure he has food and water. – the flaw being we can never leave for a vacation because with raccoons and other various woodland creatures out there, we can’t leave food out for him.
- Try to have Bleu live like Delilah; they would both come and go and have food inside. When we go on a trip we lock the cats in the house. – the flaw is that I don’t think Bleu wants to live with a dog and two crazy boys.
- Ask Mr. Neighbor Guy to leave us Delilah but not Bleu. I don’t know if he would do this as the cats have been together their whole lives. Seeing how they rarely interact with each other I don’t know how much they will miss one another. – flaw is he may say no and take Delilah.
- Cut a hole in our new detached garage and make that a safe place for Bleu to eat and sleep. – flaw is that raccoons and other cats could get in our garage. Plus there is a feral cat, we named Handsome, who is insanely jealous of Delilah and pines for her when she is in our house. He has claimed her as his own and has gone so far as to spray our front door, garbage cans, potted plants, etc. He has gotten into our garage when the doors are open and has sprayed in there too. It pisses me off (pun intended.) We are considering live trapping him to see if fixing him will help, assuming he is not fixed already.
I don’t know how we end up in such strange predicaments. If any of you have any suggestions or additional options for us, I am listening.
* Before I publish this I want to make clear that I am not making light of the sad situation our neighbors find themselves in. I often find my thoughts drifting to it, wondering, shaking my head. I am especially sad for the little girl who is the innocent in all of this. The cat conundrum effects my family and our daily lives, whereas the goings-on of our neighbors effect us in a less immediate way. *