Fritzy, The Cat

By some mechanism that I cannot remember activating, I became a member of a neighborhood page, one that is named for my neighborhood. Judging from the posts, the page describes a place that I don’t recognize, though I live in it. It is a neighborhood foreign to me, filled with car break-ins, lost dogs and a mighty swarm of lost cats. One post about a lost/found cat made me think of my found cat.
Someone posted that a cat, “tipped” and appearing to be healthy, was in or near someone’s yard. Responses poured in, but the one that struck me was what seemed to be sage advice. The ear tipping, said the responder, was a sign that the cat was a part of a feral community, and had been spayed/neutered and released back into “the wild.” The original poster was concerned that the cat would not eat her proffered food, and the responder cautioned against it, saying that cats will develop a network of food providers, going from one to another to sample the dishes. Which is something my cat did.
Fritzy was found by my 95 pound yellow lab, mewing between the garbage cans in the back yard. Allie Dog Woods nosed between the cans and showed me the kitten. I don’t know how young the cat was, but after a flea bath in the kitchen sink — I recommend the thick leather gloves for this procedure — Fritzy was integrated into the household with Mom, Dad, two kids and a dog. I’m not a cat person, so I was not overjoyed at the addition, but when the young gun caught the mouse that liked to visit us each evening at dinner, I thought, “My man.”
So life goes on, and Fritzy chilled with the fam; Allie would occasionally come to me with plaintive eyes, asking that the kitten be disengaged from her ear, and I would train the cat to avoid climbing the drapes by hitting it in the butt with a shot from my Super Soaker water gun. Fun, fun, fun, until Fritzy hit the highway. Or rather, strolled away. Since he was an indoor/outdoor cat, we let him out to scout, and he came back to eat. This worked well for all until it didn’t, and one day, he did not come back. The two young children set up a great wailing and gnashing, and Mom’s eyebrows were furrowed for weeks, while Dad was like, “This is Life, right,” a minority position held in contempt by all. And then, weeks later, Fritzy came back. He was well-groomed and fed, and had on a new blue collar (he’d left with a black one) and a cat’s lack of concern for the drama he’d left behind. We changed out the collar and he set up shop over the dish, giving me a look that said, “Dude: Food.” I complied and life was good again, though he remembered not to climb the drapes.
Fritzy was with us until he wasn’t, with one more episode of absenteeism and new-collar return, and one thrilling moment where I had to be held by my legs upside down in a sewer to rescue him. Maybe the “Great Sewer Episode” convinced him to move into his other home, permanently, but we never knew where he went. In the late 80s, we did not have a social media presence, and we did not post “lost” fliers on telephone poles. Fritzy’s leavings were as much a part of his personality as his purring presence, with his killer skills at mousing.
But Dad, “no-cat” guy, did miss that dude…