Feral Cycle

Rover got out of the house again Tuesday afternoon. Despite the rain, he refused to come back inside — this quite unlike the day before, when he slammed himself against the back door repeatedly as soon as it started sprinkling.

Good thing he did, too. I passed out Monday morning while I was pulling my socks on. By the time he woke me up, I’d been sprawled across the bed in my work clothes for a good two hours. Had he not freaked out, I likely would have slept until the Monster got home (judging from the equally involuntary six-hour nap @bhoneydew had last Sunday), or my boss realized I hadn’t made it into the office.

The cat turned up Wednesday morning when Monster and I walked down to the bus stop. That’s how we first met Rover late last summer, when he was a small mellow thing that liked playing with the Monster so much that we took him in, fed him, got him fixed and vaccinated and bought him toys and all the other things that @bhoneydew and I swore we’d never buy again, because we had two house cats for several years and figured that was quite enough of sharing our lives with felines.

We prefer dogs. We’ve just never had room in our lives for one. Granted, we used to have similar feelings about children. Also granted, there are days when we wonder what the heck we were thinking when we decided we were qualified enough to become parents.

Rover turned up. Padded down the driveway after us, yeowling.  When he got close enough, he launched himself at the Monster, claws out.

I intervened. Rover bit and clawed at my shoe, then ran off.

He turned up again this morning. Followed us down to the bus stop, but stalked the Monster instead of yeowling and trotting along.  I casually stepped between them when he got close, and he fled.

I’ve been reading a lot in order to get some insight on this change in behavior. I’ve also been racking my brain trying to think of anything new or sudden that might have triggered it. The Monster’s never abused Rover: despite his nickname, he’s very gentle with animals. We’ve not made any big changes at home. We haven’t gone on any long trips and left him alone (or moved, for that matter). We haven’t introduced any new animals to the household … nothing like that at all.

@bhoneydew observed this morning that Rover had started clawing at doors trying to get out as soon as the weather began to warm up (true) and had shown little interest in going outside before then (also true). The local feral cat pack’s also returned to our area, and Rover’s been extremely interested in their members when they slink across the yard.

Maybe he wants to join them. Maybe we’re mistaken about his being a house cat’s kitten who’d gotten dumped out in the country — maybe he was always feral, and just clever enough to realize last year that winter was coming and he needed a warm place to stay. While I’m not crazy enough to think that there’s some boss cat out there that’s told him he now has to turn on us in order to prove his loyalty, it sure seems like it.

Any cat folks out there got any ideas?

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