As a rule, I am not a cat lover. I have avoided owning a cat because cats somehow take over a family, slowly easing everyone in the family to their beck and call. My rigidity eased up somewhat when I was introduced to Cyrus, or, should I say, he introduced himself to me.
During warmer days I tend to spend lots of time in my garage as that is where I store my unhung paintings, my treasure trove of vintage books, and loads and loads of vintage paper memorabilia. One fine summer day while working on some project, I began to notice, out of the corner of my eye, something moving furtively back and forth in front of my garage. Later, the ‘something’ became a reality in the form of a large, grey striped cat with white socks. He walked into my garage just as if he owned the place. He began sniffing at one side of the door working his way all the way around to the other side of the door then giving me a look as if to say, “There’s no mice in here, or nothing else to eat, for that matter!” After sniffing my pant leg he went gaily on his way.
Afterward, this same cat, whom my wife and I commenced calling ‘Socks’, began sleeping in our patio. He seemed to like the way the sun spread its warming rays in a portion of our patio. Also, he might have picked up my scent there where I had worked on our flowers and herbs.
We found out later that Sock’s real name was Cyrus and had a real owner. We also found out that he was a great mouser. He sometimes laid mice, and once a huge rat at the foot of the stairs leading up to his owner’s home. We also learned that Cyrus liked to go into any garage door that happened to be opened. Many times, as soon as he heard my garage door go up, he would come running to repeat the same ritual he had done upon his introduction the first day. I never knew why he was attached to me as I never fed him. I suppose that he just liked the sound of my voice. I always talked softly to him, never scolding him or forcefully scurrying him out of my garage. If I needed to go inside, I would simply close the garage door a portion of the way and Cyrus would hurry outside.
On Mother’s Day, 2015, John and Veronica, Chrus’s owners stopped my wife and I in the alleyway in front of our garage informing us,
“We have not seen Cyrus in about four days and we fear that someone or something has detained him! We have already searched the area very diligently and have even gone to the Animal Shelter, who informed us that no cats fitting Cyrus’ description had been brought in.”
This is how we finally learned the mouser’s real name.
“I am sure that he was here for a visit on Tuesday as he came in my garage where I was working and did his sniffing routine and even lay down in the middle of the garage for a rest.” Frank replied fearfully.
John and Veronica were leaving to visit John’s mother for her special day.
“If I see Cyrus I will try to detain him and let you know when you return,” Frank assured them.
It turned out that Cyrus had gone into a neighbors open garage door as they left on vacation for seven days. He was discovered by another neighbor walking her dog. She kept hearing a cat meowing as she walked by her next door neighbors’ door. She came to tell me as I had put out the word that Cyrus was missing. We were able to pry up the neighbor’s door a little ways in order to put some food and, much-needed, water under the door. We finally figured out that Cyrus had been in the garage for at least five days without food or water. When the neighbors arrived where Cyrus was imprisoned, when they opened the door, Cyrus fairly flew out the door, although a little wobbly, and scurried to his own home. After that we began calling him the Miracle Cat.
Another time I was on a call from Puerto Rico and as I talked to my friend there, I kept hearing a scratching noise behind me, and occasionally a thump. The only thing behind me was our clothes closet. I thought,“Could a burglar have come in when we were not looking and gotten into our closet?” I didn’t know what to think at the time. I finally got up the nerve to open the slider door, to my surprise, Cyrus came strolling out as if he owned our townhome, and finally decided to go down the stairs and to his home. Cyrus must have sneaked in from the garage as my wife went in and out with clothing as she was doing the wash. When she went upstairs to hang clothing in the closet, she must have left the door open a ways and Cyrus had gone into the closet unbeknownst to her. He had probably fallen asleep and she had closed the door when she finished her laundry.
Cyrus always carried some scars on his back from having an encounter with a coyote a few years back. He had come home bedraggled and bleeding from fighting off the coyote. He had to be taken to the vet to be sewn up. After a few days, this survivor began circling his court looking for vermin of any kind.
Cyrus was fed, and watered, by several residents of his court. As a result, he grew fat and lazy in his last days. His favorite spot to sleep in the sun was smack in the middle of the busy driveway between the units. Residents, knowing his reputation, would need to drive around him or over him. Cyrus did not fear the automobiles that skirted him gingerly. He just lay there licking his paws contentedly! It was believed by most residents that Cyrus had grown tired and was enjoying a well-earned rest.
On September 13, 2019, (Friday the thirteenth) Cyrus resigned his commission as Village Cat! He entered the realm where all good cats go when they have exhausted their nine lives! He will be missed greatly by all the residents of his court! Bon Voyage, Cyrus the Great!