On Friday the 16th of November (be good if it were Friday the 13th wouldn't it) a cat started meowing in our driveway. This was most strange. It was one of the clan from the neighbourhood who frequent our yard. This cat has been here for years, very timid, only see a flash of him and he's gone. He's a pale fawn/orangey type colour, fluffy and large. I nicknamed him Puss in boots years ago. So Puss in boots was making a racket. I don't know this cat very well, but it struck me as mighty out of character. I went outside and he kept meowing. I slowly approached him, he backed away, but not completely. Instead of fleeing over the fence and into obscurity, as per our established arrangement, he backed off to keep a comfortable distance between us, but kept himself visible. I went back inside and kept an eye on him.
That night, for the entire night, he meowed at our front door. Both of us tried, intermittently over the evening, to let him inside. But he'd only trot away from us, then stop and resume meowing. We left a bowl of water out for him.
I thought he must have kitty dementia, as they tend to get 'lost' in the dark and generally do out of character things, like meow at strangers. (Grew up with a hoard of cats and a stinky household I did, not fun.)
The next morning he was still at our front door. My husband successfully let him inside. Long story short he's still here. It's like he adopted us. No signs of kitty dementia, as far as I can tell. He just suddenly likes us. Maybe out of necessity, because he's hungry? I don't know.
I always assumed he's male because, and I know this is a hot topic among cat people, but I believe you can tell the genders apart. It's all in the neck and skull structure, of this I am convinced. Take it from someone who grew up with a million bloody cats.
No one knows who Puss in boots belongs to. If he's missing, or for how long. All our immediate neighbours have seen him in or around their yards. I checked Gumtree for lost pet ads, couldn't find his picture or description.
A few days later I took him to a vet to have him scanned. No microchip, I find this very odd as it turns out he's a Norwegian Forest Cat, a pricey posh breed, if you please. Vet reckons he's between seven and ten years. I thought he weighed a tonne but the vet said he was underweight and undernourished. He treated him for fleas/worms, and he was to go back for another weigh in at a later date. I wasn't taking much in, was flummoxed by him being 'underweight'. He's flippin HUGE! But it explained his protruding back bone, you could feel his spine under all the fur.
We never had any cats as large as this when I was a kid. Nor any cats that eat like dogs. This takes some getting used to.
Ghost time! After about a week of him living here we were watching TV one night, the cat was laying on his back in front of the TV, because he's a dog that way. We were discussing what his name might be and saying random names to see if he'd respond. Given his age we began saying kid type names like Shrek, Spongebob, Twilight, Edward, things that were popular when he would've been a kitten. He has a rather fetching 'mane', believe it or not. So husband said 'Leo the lion', wouldn't you know it the cat looked up from his belly up, lay about position. After saying Leo a few times, it was clear he responded to this name. Or maybe 'Theo', something sounding like this, at least. We've settled on Leo.
Earlier that day and during the days leading up to this, we both kept smelling a phantom smell. It was cosmetics. You know the way cosmetics used to smell? Think back to your older relatives, that unmistakable 'traditional' cosmetics smell. This was very strong in the house at various times. We think it's tied in with the cat arriving. Maybe his previous owner? An elderly lady who passed away perhaps?
Back to that night, naming the cat. We were pretty pleased with ourselves finding a name, odds are his actual name. The cosmetics smell had returned while this was going on. Maybe half an hour had passed since nailing the Leo name. I felt a really strong presence enter the room, I felt like I knew exactly where they were, how and where they were moving around. It was intense, without saying anything I turned to my husband and he was frozen in place with a quizzical look, much like me. I mouthed 'Who the f--- is that?', he shrugged back clueless. You know when you've got ghosts frequenting your home, you get to know them by vibe? Well this vibe was unfamiliar, but super strong.
Leo was making cat smiley eyes in the direction of where I thought the presence was moving around. Cat people, you know cat smiley eyes right? When they squint at you in appreciation, usually while relaxing by the fire or on your knee. Anyway, cat smiley eyes Leo was making in the direction of this invisible presence. I thought/felt the presence to be a person, whoever it was I thought bent over to pat Leo on the head. Leo closed his eyes the way cats do when you pat their head while they're relaxed. This timed in with when I thought/felt the person was bending over to touch him. Then it was like the person left, moment passed, couldn't 'feel' them here any more. Leo put his head on the floor and drifted off to sleep.
My husband said a couple seconds before I turned around he 'felt' someone enter the room. I felt the same thing. We both felt the direction they moved and how they bent over the cat. We've done this sort of thing with other spirits. But this felt different somehow, the immediacy and strong vibe they gave off. We assume it's a woman because of the cosmetics smell.
Since that night we haven't smelt cosmetics. My husband feels the same presence return at various times. I've felt it one other time only. It was about a week ago, when we were going to bed. I was in the bedroom and Leo was asleep on the couch. I felt the same strong presence, and had the sense of direction around where Leo was.
For the first nights he was here Leo wanted to sleep on our bed, practically cried at the bedroom door for the first few nights, poor thing. I don't have a problem letting pets sleep on your bed if you're single. But if you're a couple, kick the damn pets out of the bedroom for goodness sake.
We got him a cat bed, actually it's a dog bed, because the cat ones are too small for him. But he prefers the couch. Gotta love cats. My husband says he feels the presence mostly around bedtime. He thinks this person might have a goodnight routine with the cat. He also felt it very strong when he got home one night. I wasn't home at the time. He thinks this person might be visiting the cat when we're not around.
I thought I saw someone in the armchair last week, just a glimpse in the dark, as I walked by. They had curly short hair, but that's all I saw. I did a double take but only saw armchair. It might have been my imagination making sense of the dark.
At some point someone obviously loved Leo. He's got a sweet nature, he's house trained, neutered, likely slept on someone's bed, loves being brushed, loves any kind of attention.
Back in November, when he first came inside, he had a patch of fur on the top of his head which was shorter than the rest. He'd probably been in a cat fight at some point. His coat was dry and a bit brittle, his gums were pale, and he looked like he'd been living rough. He was also very on edge and clingy. He could wake up and fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Now he's much calmer, less clingy, settled into a sleeping, eating and playing routine.
About a month into him being with us I abandoned searching Gumtree for lost ads after this happened. One evening I got home and flopped on the couch. I was pretty tired. Leo jumped on the back of the couch and did that meow/purr thing in my ear. This gave me an almighty fright and I leapt up immediately with a gasp. This scared Leo, he ran to the front door. I went after him saying 'Leo, it's okay, you just scared me, it's okay.' I said this in a soft, reassuring tone. I stretched my hand out to pat him when I got to the door, but he cowered and flinched, looking at me with his eyelids flickering. I think he thought I was going to hit him. Neither of us would ever hit an animal.
I didn't know what to do. But I backed away a couple steps and crouched down to his level. He got over his fear reaction pretty fast and was back to normal within the next five minutes. But this has stuck with me ever since. I've never seen a cat do that before. I was disgusted, angry. I felt a lot of things, still do. In that moment I realised I had no idea who I'd be handing him back to, if I found someone looking for him. Also why has he been living rough, a posh breed like that.
Going over everything now I think the presence we felt that night we named him was likely his original owner, who loved him. When this person, (woman?) passed away, her family either abandoned the cat and he lived rough, or took the cat in and mistreated him. Well, that's the present theory anyway.
On a lighter note I've been learning about Norwegian Forest Cats and it amuses me greatly to call him by his native name Skogkatt. How good is that word?! Skogkatt, it's his second name now.
Thanks for reading.