The borrowed cat

I’ve fallen for the cat next door.


Until now I never understood Cat People. What is the point of cats? They’re so indifferent to you. They don’t seem to care if you’re alive or dead, as long as they’re being fed.

But then the black and white fluffball above moved in to the little house on our left. It immediately started a turf war with the evil green-eyed cat that lives to our right. The battle ground? Our tiny back yard.

Both of these cats share their humans with a dog, so I can understand why they’d fight for the right to lounge peacefully in neutral territory.

After a few weeks of staring contests (as depicted in photo above) and midnight hissing, the new kid came out on top.

At first he just plonked himself under this dense, scraggly bush in the yard, the perfect position to keep an eye on both his own home and the home of his green-eyed enemy. But then he invited himself inside.

Our flat is small; it’s a third of a converted outbuilding. We’re overlooked on all sides so it can feel stuffy and oppressive. We keep the awning window in the bathroom open most times to let some air in. It’s a small window, but just big enough for a determined cat to squeeze through.

One evening Gareth got up from the couch, opened the living room door and nearly jumped a foot in the air when he found the cat sitting on the other side. The cat sauntered in, jumped on the armchair and made itself comfortable.

On the couch again

Neither of us know anything about cats, so we just kind of stared at him. He stared back, then decided he was bored and demanded to be let back outside (at that point, it could climb in through the window, but had yet to acquire the skills to get back out).

Since then he’s just dropped in whenever he damn well pleases. I came home from a meeting to find him conked out on the bed.

Bed cat

Having only had relatively obedient dogs as pets before, the audacity of this cat was fascinating… and endearing. My cat-owning friend LaLa explained to me that many cats take up “second homes”. Evidently, he’d decided on us for his crash pad.

I also didn’t realise that cats in boxes are really a thing. I mean I love Maru on YouTube, and had a book called My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes when I was a kid but had never really thought about cats ’til now. When this guy snoozed in the beer box for four hours straight he won me over forever.

Box cat

I also didn’t know that cats sleep for up to 20 hours a day. Gareth googled it. He was mocking me for being smitten, “You love that cat!” but he’s just as bad. Here they are reading Cat Facts together.


The creature is totally shameless. He will snooze for hours in a suitcase or mooch next to you on the couch, but then he’ll hear the footsteps of his Real Human arriving home, the One With The Food, and he’ll spring up and trot away without a backward glance.

Three times this past week he’s even sneaked inside in the middle of the night. We wake at 6AM to find him dozing on the foot of the bed or on the floor. He looks at us all bewildered and regretful, then jumps off and heads back out the bathroom window. We watch him slink down the path back to his real home, like a walk of shame after a long night out.

In some of my jealous, pathetic moments when I’m working from home and just want the company of another living being for a bit longer, I consider offering him a snack. But that would be crossing a line, and it’s kinda great that he hangs around without ever begging for food. He just uses us for a quiet and comfy place to sleep (like four hours in the laundry basket yesterday) and that arrangement is working nicely.

Bag cat - Lap cat

Sometimes I wonder if I should just get my own cat, but I really don’t want one. I’d have to deal with stinky cat food tins and vet bills. Plus, it wouldn’t be as good as this cat. I’m besotted with that Don’t Give A Fuck stare, the wiry whiskers, the belly as fleecy as a sheep’s and the complete disregard for our feelings and furniture. What a champ.

Cat yoga

UPDATE: Turns out he is a she! It’s hard to tell with all that fur. You don’t want to go looking that close, especially with a cat that does not belong to you.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

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54 thoughts on “The borrowed cat

  1. he’s glorious!
    and yes 20 hours a day. every day. forever.
    we get a few hours in the morning and evening where every single morsel of compact furry energy is expelled.
    then…. snooze.
    which is often a relief.

  2. Love, love, love. He’s so fluffy! There’s no harm in getting a bag of Dreamies and giving him one every now and then 😀

  3. Love this post. We had a cat for years that just turned up and lived with us – reading this brought back some happy memories, thanks. Enjoy your new friend.

  4. We have a feline visitor in our new digs. He is called Lebowski. Bella won’t like him.

    Great that you get so much pleasure from the puddy tat.

  5. Love this!
    I hope my kittens grow up to be like this. I thought my two slept a lot so it now makes sense as to why they are so hyper for a really short period of time then conk out.
    They are seriously fun to have and to watch play and sleep. They aren’t too bad as they are very clean animals and will probably make me tidy up after myself more as anything left out is fair game.

  6. “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” You’ve got all the “benefits” of a cat without the drawbacks (I’m thinking litterbox…)

    He’s fabulous, but my heart is still lost to Ingvor.

  7. He is a truly handsome cat. I can understand why you have taken him to your heart. Our little cat is very happy right now as our two dogs are on holiday in Donegal. She wishes it could be like this all the time.

  8. Love this post! I’m a cat person and I totally understand the attraction. I really loved the pic of Dr G and the cat looking up cat facts on the computer! ROFL!

    Enjoy your buddy!

  9. In my experience, if you went and got your own cat, it wouldn’t be as nice as your guest. I’ve had many cats in my 63 years and the majority have been less than affectionate, preferring the company of our other cats or just wanting to be al

    1. ….alone (damn phone). I swore off cats entirely when my 3 beautiful but completely stand-offish Himalayans started using out entire house as a litterbox. Then last Fall a little grey cat showed up at our acreage. My son opened a can of tuna for her and she never left. As Winter made the nights colder, soft-hearted me eventually invited her inside. She is the nicest cat I ever had. Sweet, cuddly, and very affectionate. She even tolerates our exuberant Bulldog who playfully mauls poor kitty. We finally named her. Hubs and I were messing with a voice texting app. As you discovered using a similar technology, it sometimes mangles your words hilariously. I voiced/texted him that we should “name our” cat. The text he got read, “neymar cat.” So our cats name is Neymar which unknown to us was a Brazillian soccer star who was injured in the recently completed Workd Cup. So Neymar’s name is somehow fitting since we finally named her during the World Cup. Enjoy your visitor–she/he is gorgeous.

  10. Ah… so delightful. I’m very glad for you. I’ve found that an extremely high percentage of kitties that are rescue kitties (both of ours right now) are SUPER sweet (for cats). They’re never going to be slobbery oh-my-gawd-you’re-the-best-always that dogs are, but I’m a cat person, so the personal space you get w/cats I love. I dog sat for my advisor and they’d NEVER LEAVE ME ALONE which drove me bonkers. Working on my thesis (on advisor’s computer) they’d wrestle RIGHT behind me & bump into my chair over & over. Wow.

    I’ve noticed kitties are pretty crepuscular–active around sunrise & sunset, and the rest of the time, they’re mostly silent co-workers, with occasional “take a work break and PET ME!” interruptions. Which is probably healthy. =)

    Last, in my single days, I always noted if a man liked cats or not. If he did, then he could deal w/a creature that may or may not be feeling affectionate or social or even civil from moment to moment, which means he’s already learned to adapt to other creature’s moods & not take it personally. GOOD SIGN! =)

    ANYhow, I LOVE your photos of that CHARMING kitty.

    1. I think you have hit the nail on the head! It’s so nice to have a living creature around, without the constant WHATCHA DOIN’ WHATCHA DOIN’ of a dog!

      Good call re men and cats! Gotta admit, even though it makes me boil that the cat seems to like Gareth more than me, it has warmed my cockles to discover G is just as good with cats as he is with dogs.

      1. Old Fatface is the same with Mick and generally any male – I figure it’s because they have a higher body temperature.. that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it because otherwise I’ll DIE of the jels.

  11. I love this post and how much your new friend resembles my beloved cat who is twenty years old. He can no longer climb through narrow bathroom windows but in his prime he won over many a non cat person.

  12. This is the funniest thing I have read in ages. I startled my own slumbering fur ball awake with my loud guffaws! She was not impressed. 😉

  13. Ah, yes. The borrowed cat , indeed. We have one too and his name is Bandit and he’s run away with out hearts. We had an older dog and cat both die around the holidays–our cat at Thanksgiving and w were mourning and not wanting another pet. In December, Bandit’s family across the street and immediately started hanging out at our house. (his family has a dog, cat, and kid). He was always at our house and he was obsessed with getting inside. We didn’t feed him ( well, my husband snuck treats) . He started looking scrawny and he was always at our house , so I just talked to the neighbors. They had no problem with sharing and offered to buy us food for him. Now, he spends every night on the roof (what is it with cats on roofs?) . He’s obsessed with licking my husband’s head….obsessed. Here’s to sharing pets.

  14. Beautiful cat. Both of my significant other’s have been cat haters so I’ve felt a bit deprived. I think you have the perfect situation. Well written blog as always, it really made my day.

  15. Just to slightly sell the idea of having ones own cat. We have two. If getting them from kittens you can train them to self-regulate their own eating with good quality dry food always out in large quantities (not at all stinky). We have a cat flap which is programmed to our cats’ microchips so they let themselves in and out without other cats having access to the house. We can go away for several days at a time without them needing a cat sitter. I have had my two cats for nine years, and apart from vaccinations and getting neutered, have never needed a vet. Love them!

  16. love him – I’d tell you to send him over our way but we have one insolent cat here – her latest trick is turning the lamp on and off as part of snoozing at its base – gave me a shock when it first just went on of its own accord! I come from a family of cat haters and swore I would never have a cat but they get under your skin – and are very snuggly – though we use cat biscuits so it is the kitty litter than I hate most about cats – oh and them just disappearing for ages and then sauntering in with the “what, what, I just have been out, ok?” look.

  17. Welcome to the dark side 😉 Seriously though, I never thought of myself as a cat person, growing up we only had a dog, and I didn’t know anyone who had a cat. Long story short, I got married, had a child, was on a trip with my sister-when I called home my husband said he had brought a cat home. Came home from trip, 2 yr old daughter had claw marks across her face. To say I wasn’t happy is an understatement! 18 years later, we now have three cats, including that original clawer, who has turned into the sweetest cat you ever met. I LUURRVE cats now, and would have a bunch if we had room for them. We also have two dogs, but the cats really win in the personality department.

    Your visitor is adorable, I love the picture of him on your bed.

  18. I love how you have captured this handsome boy’s personality (and place in your life) in words and photos…I’ve been owned by cats my entire life…from the time I was born (when we had a Siamese named El Gato) to right now (two lovely girls, Starla and Bella). So much depends on how you raise and socialize them. Over the years my cats have comforted, amused, protected, and healed me.

  19. I’m glad the nice cat won the war!

    The best thing about the borrowed cat is that you don’t have to do litterbox duty. Or pay vet bills. It seems the best of all possible worlds, really.

  20. When we were dating, my future hubby insisted he didn’t like cats, was allergic, never had one and never wanted one, etc. Then he came over one day to fix my air conditioner, and my new kitten, “Princess”, came out of hiding and sat, fascinated, on the floor next to him, watching the progress of the repairs and very obviously flirting with him. It was love at first sight. We’ve been married for 7 years now and every evening she greets him at the door with purrs and mews. What’s really funny is that hubby mews back!

  21. Loved it. Of course cats are adorable. And yes, get a packet of Dreamies and give him a few every time he visits. He won’t be indifferent to you then, I’ll guarantee.

    I loved your photos of Assynt etc. Must, must get back there before I die, ie preferably soon because you never know…

  22. I totally had slash worshipped that book “My Cat likes to hide in Boxes” when I was little! The illustrations were amazing. I used to force every visitor who entered our house to sit down and read it with me. Welcome to the cat people league! We’re not as sad and lonely and society makes us out to be 🙂

  23. I love the fact you get to have a cat without having all the annoying things of cat-ownership! Lucky duck! You forgot to lament about the kitty-litter duty… this way? You just get pure fluffiness for free!

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