A post on a Tuesday, look at that! I had to, because today is the last day of February, a month in which I have yet to post, and I’m stubbornly refusing to break my streak of posting at least once a month. And so today I give you an incomplete list of some cats of Grinnell.
Grinnell has many cats. From what I observe, overhear, and am told, not a few residents are feeding stray cats or wind up adopting cats that walked into or otherwise appeared in their lives. My personal experience of the cats of Grinnell derives mainly from the circuit I regularly walk around the center of town. Many cats have their usual haunts, and so I encounter them repeatedly and come to recognize (some of) them by their distinguishing marks. All of the cats except the first one on this list are pretty skittish and will flee if I come too close, so I’ll spare you the photos of blobs in the brush or grainy cats on windowsills. Without further ado, here is a partial dramatis personae:
Mama Kitty is a bar cat, specifically the cat of the bar around the corner from my place. Some friendly patron standing outside the entrance to the bar told me her name soon after I moved to Grinnell. She has a little cat house and dishes for food and water outside, and she spends a lot of time on or under the patio furniture against the bar’s façade or between the wheels of pickup trucks parked at an angle to the sidewalk in front of the bar. Mama Kitty is very sweet and friendly, and I try to say hello to her whenever I’m passing by.
Southeast of the historic downtown, two sets of railroad tracks intersect. A bit north of where they cross perpendicularly, there are some brick apartment buildings near the north-south railroad tracks. There are quite a few cats that hang out around these apartment buildings, probably in part because sometimes residents set food out for them. There are several black cats in this area, and I can’t tell them all apart (I know there are several because I’ve seen multiple black cats at once), but one cat I do know is Baby Void. (Note: Mama Kitty’s real name is Mama Kitty; otherwise, all these cats’ names were made up by me.) Baby Void was a little cat when I first identified him several years ago. By now, he’s no longer a baby, but the name stuck. Baby Void is all black except for a circle of white at his throat. It looks like a round tag on a collar, but after years of observation, I think it’s just a patch of white fur.
Another black cat I used to see in these same parts is Queue Cassée (Broken Tail), so named after I noticed a black cat whose tail hung somewhat stiffly behind him instead of swishing the way a cat’s tail usually does, however faintly. I think I’d probably seen Queue Cassée before he became Queue Cassée, but the state of his tail made him distinguishable from the other black cats. There was a sort of hump where his tail joined his body. Despite this apparent tail injury, Queue Cassée seemed to be getting along fine, and in fact I’ve seen no sign of him for ages, so maybe his tail got better on its own?
Yet another black cat I see in this vicinity is Mr. Floofy, so named because he’s a long-haired cat. He also has rather short legs. I just saw him on Saturday, against a west-facing brick wall illuminated by the afternoon sun, in the company of another black cat. They both took off at my approach, though Mr. Floofy held his ground longer.
Other Railway Cats
This is my cat hotspot. In addition to the aforementioned denizens, there’s also a white-and-gray cat (who’s a she in my head for some reason), a stocky orange tabby with a white-tipped tail, and several large gray tabbies. I’ll often see some combination of these and the black cats lounging between the west side of a certain apartment building and the railroad tracks. They like to sit on the sills of the windows just above ground level there, and I believe someone sets food (and windowsill cushions?) out for them. On a couple of occasions I may even have seen someone interacting with the cats through an open window. And once I was coming up the road and noticed an odd silhouette/gait belonging to a vaguely cat-sized creature sidling along the building’s exterior wall. It was a raccoon! There were two of them! And they were eating the cat food while several cats sitting nearby looked placidly on!
All right, last cat. Tortie is a smaller (I think) tortoiseshell cat whom I’ve sometimes seen behind the chain link fence blocking off the empty lot by my apartment building. The space was formerly occupied by a Mexican restaurant that burned down before I moved to Grinnell. Now there’s a gap, and the ground is planked over with warped wooden boards. Tortie mysteriously appears in this vacant lot; I don’t know how she comes and goes. Through a secret underground tunnel? Over the roof of the building backing the empty lot? Tortie is usually sitting very tidily relatively far back from the chain link fence. She’s in a different spot every time, still and watching.