George the orange cat

On August 29th, 2017, our daughter Abigail was born. We brought her home from the hospital a couple days later and, though I can’t recall the exact day, were very soon after surprised to discover a stray cat on our doorstep.

Now, we’d been living in the same house here in Jackson for over eight years and were used to stray cats. They came and went constantly. Some occasionally got friendly. I remember one we used to call “Old Gray” who would casually wander into our house if we left the back door open, eat some of our cats’ food, and then move on.

But the cat who showed up on our porch right after Abigail came home was different. He insisted from day one that he was not a stray. He lived at this house and we needed to let him in. It was highly unusual.

From the first day he arrived, he never left our porch. Day after day he’d be at our front door begging to come inside. He even took to “knocking” frequently by standing on his hind legs and pounding our glass door. It was so frequent that we stopped noticing, though it continued to shock any guests we had. And given the fact that we had a new baby in the house, we had frequent visitors. Everyone we knew got to know “orange cat.

Eventually we broke down and started feeding him. There was nothing we could do to convince him that he was at the wrong house. He never visited any neighbors or wandered the neighborhood looking for handouts like the other strays. He had conviction like I’ve never seen before in a cat. I feel confident that even our own cats who grew up in our house would give up sooner than Orange Cat.

Sometimes he’d even present us with offerings as an attempt to persuade us to open our door at last.

He brought us a gift!

He finally wore down our defenses when the weather turned cold. This would have been after about two months or so of porch life. But we couldn’t just watch him sit out there looking frozen and pitiful. We let him in and resigned ourselves to the fact that Abigail wasn’t going to be the only new addition to the family.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just us humans he needed to convince. We had three other cats already living under our roof and they were not welcoming. We were ultimately willing to give this relentless intruder a place to stay but our other pets would have none of it.

The other cats constantly harassed Orange Cat. They chased him, ate his food, even attacked him at times. Before long he was living on a shelf in the corner of our basement. It was the only place he could hide where the other cats would leave him be.

We felt really bad for him and tried to make it work. But we were also adjusting to being first time parents at the same time and solutions to the problem were not clear. We were reluctant to give him a name because it seemed like he wouldn’t be able to live happily in our house.

Then one fateful day, we were hosting a group of friends at our home and Orange Cat was given a new future. It was the craziest conversation. Our friend Ian had brought his new girlfriend Clare over and we were getting to know her better. We asked about where she lived, her roommate, her plans, etc. and she then said unprompted “I’m actually looking for an orange cat”.

Our jaws dropped. A record scratched. What? How incredibly specific! Well, long story short, Clare adopted Orange Cat. Not long after Ian and Clare were engaged and then married and moved into an apartment together. Clare named Orange Cat “George” and they took wonderful care of him. We even got to visit him regularly whenever we hung out at Ian and Clare’s place.

On Tuesday of this week, George the cat passed away. We’re told he had cancer.

Also on Tuesday this week, two boys were placed in our home through foster care. I don’t know how to make the story arc fit perfectly, but to me it is amazing how he entered our lives when we adopted our first child and he passed away on the same exact day that we brought more children into our home.

George wasn’t our cat, but we did love him and are so grateful to Ian and Clare for giving him such a great life for his last two years. We’ll miss you George!

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