I was the real cat lady of Sugar Land this weekend, as Kuning returned for a visit. I woke up on Saturday and Sunday with three cats in my house as well as two feral cats on my doorstep.

I’ve been trying to tame Van Gogh, so named for his mutilated ear, for nearly a year now. While I’m not sure I’m making any progress on that front, his main neighborhood nemesis is now also waiting for breakfast when I get up.

There’s an ongoing debate among the cat people I know as to whether or not Van Gogh has been neutered, which was my original goal. They say he has, hence the ear (a marking used on feral cats to indicate as much). I’m thinking not since he gets in terrible fights and has the puffed-up face of a tom cat. At this point, I doubt I’ll ever get close enough to find out. That said, even after being gone all summer and then again in November and December, it takes Van Gogh only a few days to determine I’ve returned. All in all, Van Gogh’s is a very sad and very typical story of an abandoned cat.

A happier story was Mike’s beloved Jack. Here’s an excerpt from For the Love of Mike about that cat:

Jack kept getting in fights. While fortunately he never sustained an injury Mike couldn’t treat, I started urging Mike to get Jack neutered. Just like every dog person I’ve ever known, Mike didn’t seem to understand that if you’re going to live with these semi-domesticated animals, neutering is a necessity rather than an option. And, since Jack lived on the street, it was doubly important.

“I’m sorry,” Mike would say. “As a man, I’m just not comfortable chopping off someone’s balls.”

Kuning and Andy window hunting

I was now no more than a rare guest at Mike’s apartment, the state of which was in steady decline since he spent most weekends with me. I do remember spending one night on Bomar Street with Jack sleeping at our feet. Another time, we stopped after a downtown outing on our way back to Sugar Land. I was somewhat startled at the appearance of Jack curled up on Mike’s doormat, patiently awaiting his return. Both times, I noted Jack had all his equipment. However, one day, while the to-neuter-or-not-to-neuter debate was still in progress, Jack greeted us on Mike’s porch and it was clearly no longer an issue.

“Well, Mike,” I said. “Someone other than you must still call this cat their own, because neutering Jack has been taken out of your hands.”

“Really?” Mike asked, looking suspiciously at Jack, albeit none too closely and from the wrong end. “How can you tell?”

I laughed. “I’ve been around cats all my life. Besides, I’m a farm girl. Just trust me on this one.”


  1. Melanie McQuinn on March 21, 2017 at 1:25 am

    I remember Jack. He was a well-worn cat, had been-there-and-done that look about him. I think he was sandy-cream-colored, but maybe memory has faded, it’s been a long time since Jack’s passing.

    • Anne Leonard on March 21, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Jack’s cushy life in the burbs no doubt contributed to his eventual demise (diabetes). He was a lovely light ginger, as you said more sandy than orange.

  2. Maureen M. on March 28, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Kuning is the doppelganger of my old, long dead cat, Jack (also named.)

    We have a neighborhood feral, BB, whom we’ve been taking care of since we moved to our hood 15 years ago. She has been in the neighborhood since before anyone can remember.

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