A loud, pained howling sound woke me up. It came from downstairs. 3:00 a.m. I ran and expected to see my cat in a medical crisis.
What I found was her head between the vertical blinds, looking out the sliding glass door. She made that horrible sound again. Why was my spayed cat caterwauling?
I turned on the patio light and looked out. A nose was pressed up against the glass right in front of my cat. His white face was topped with what looked like a Mickey Mouse hat. He pawed at the window trying to tap my cat’s nose. Another blood-curdling howl. Well-groomed, well-fed and all attitude, he wore a black cape over his white belly and squinted.
This was my first encounter with the Night Visitor.
I knocked on the glass and told him to go away. He didn’t.
I opened the glass door and yelled out the screen for him to go home. He didn’t.
I waved over my senior dog, now deaf and not curious at all. I pointed to the window. “Tell him to go home. He’s upsetting our baby,” She looked out the window, and barked once. He left.
I was new to this apartment and wondered if this was a stray, but my cat was so upset, and it was so late, my priority was calming my own animal.
More Night Visits
This scene repeated itself many times in the next few months. Once, I turned on the patio light to see him rubbing his face against an odd wire that sticks up from the ground and attaches to the side of the apartment. The Night Visitor had perfected his menacing body language.
I tried to reason with my cat to just stop looking outside at night, so she wouldn’t get upset. But I suspected the visitor woke her up by tapping on the window.
A Feral History
My cat used to be part of a feral colony. She had been spayed as part of the trap-neuter-return program being run secretly at my condo complex where I lived before moving here. I used to see her as a black blur, darting to and from the woods behind the condos.
My elderly neighbor who fed them said this cat was terrified of the others who chased and picked on her. She named her Little Boo because she was afraid of everything. Little Boo always hid in the bushes and waited for the others to eat, then she came out and scratched at my neighbor’s patio door to tell her the food bowls were empty.
Brave Little Boo
After two years of watching this skinny cat sprinting everywhere, I noticed a change. Suddenly, she started following us around. If I was out alone walking or going to the mailbox, she didn’t care. But when I walked my dog, she appeared from under bushes, around corners of the building or darting toward us from across the lawn
She fell in love with my dog and followed us on long walks. Occasionally, I passed someone looking wide-eyed and they asked how I trained my cat to follow me. For weeks, each time we went back inside, Little Boo stayed outside the door and meowed. I realized that she wanted to come inside.
But even after she adjusted to living inside, the outside cats kept taunting her. They came to the sliding glass door in the middle of the night. I’d hear wailing and see her fixated on the outside eyes staring at her.
At that time, my dog was young, her protector and ran to the window, barking until the outside cat left. But these feral visits happened so often that it was creepy, as if they were telling her, “You can’t get away from us.”
After the Move
But after getting far away from the feral colony, I wasn’t expecting outside cats to bother her. So, when this first episode at the new apartment happened, I investigated. I asked around my neighborhood to see who owned the cat and looked online for local missing pets. I found nothing.
He looked healthy and wasn’t afraid of people, so I suspected someone nearby kept him as an indoor-outdoor pet. A neighbor suggested I call animal control, but the last few times I called them worried about dogs running loose on busy roads, I was told they only come out for emergencies, like aggressive or injured animals
The Night Visitor Mystery Solved
I started seeing this fellow in more places. He walked down the sidewalk with a swagger. He sunbathed in the lush grass between buildings. But he was careful and always changed direction when he saw my dog coming toward him.
In the fall, when the trees lost their leaves, I clearly saw the old house in the woods across the street from my apartment complex. First, I saw him sprawled out and napping in the leaf piles in front of the house. Maybe just another hangout, I thought. Then, weeks later, when walking my dog one evening, I saw a thin, grey-haired lady open the front door of that house, stick her head out and yell, “Kitty, kitty.” He came out of hiding and ran to her. Finally, I found the home of the Night Visitor.
After that the visits stopped. I can’t explain why. Maybe he got older and found some better feline hobbies. Maybe he somehow knew that I had seen where he lived. Since that time, we’ve lived in peace with no after-midnight visitors.
But I know I can’t be the only one with feline visitation stories. Has anyone else been woken by a night visitor scratching at the door?
What an interesting tale. It still has a bit of suspense and could be developed into a great kids story..
Thanks. That’s a good idea. My neighbor I mention in the story wanted me to write about how Little Boo transitioned to inside cat. It was an interesting process.
I love the story of how Little Boo adopted you and your dog. Our cat lived her first 6 months in the wild. It was our Labrador that helped her most in her transition from outdoor to indoor life. It’s funny how a rescued feral cat remembers those out door days. Little Boo knew just what to say to that nigh visitor.
Yes, it’s amazing how animals that don’t know each other can be so connected. Boo really had to cope with an entirely new world inside and it was always my dog she ran to for comfort. I’m glad you and your Lab were able to save your cat from having to live a wild life.