Friday, October 15, 2010

The Ones Who Get To Me Part 2: This Is Mojo

One day in the summer of '09 I walked into the kennel after a few days off and there was this orange cat in the top right kennel of the critical care cages.  (The "back" cages are critical care, but sometimes they are just used as temporary housing for cats before they go out for sale.)  He was older than most of the kittens we take, an orange tabby looking at me with an air of superiority.  Most tabby cats have a marking on their forehead that resembles the letter M.  This one's markings were a very clear letter M, no doubt about it.  No breaks in the lines, and his orange stripes were a vivid, vibrant orange that stood out against his lighter orange fur, making the M on his head pop out.  I said, "Hello, what does the M stand for, mystery cat?" just as he stood and turned around, showing me that he was undoubtedly a male.  VERY much a male.  I had just heard Muddy Waters playing Mojo Workin' out in the store, so I decided right then and there that M stood for Mojo.  He sure looked like his mojo was pretty close to workin'.

I opened the cage to see how friendly this mystery cat was.  Most cats in a new place would not come out.  Or, if they did, they would slink around the perimeter of the room and check things out to be sure nothing untoward was going to happen.  Is that what this cat did?  No.  Of course not.  Because this is Mojo.

Mojo jumped out of the top kennel and flopped over on his side in the middle of the kennel floor like he had lived there his entire life.  Completely comfortable, completely at his ease.  The cacophony of dogs barking bothered him not in the least.  His entire attitude seemed to say, "I Am King.  Let No One Forget."  I couldn't figure out why we had a cat so much older than what we normally take, and who in their right minds dropped this gem off?  He exuded personality.

Supervising the kennel is a tiring job.  7-17-09

Since he wasn't skittish, I let him stay out.  He didn't seem like the type to try and bolt out of the kennel door and run amok in the store.  He got up on the table and ate the dog food I was mixing up for the puppies.  Om nom nom dog food.  Then he set about finding good hidey holes all over the kennel, the better to ambush unsuspecting ankles as they walked past.  His favorite spot for a good cat nap was under the step-stool I use to clean the top cages.  If he wanted a good, hard sleep, he went there.  If he just wanted a vantage point from which to oversee all, he got up on the top shelf where I keep my towels.  I kept his kennel open at all times, so he could jump up there and get a drink or use his litter box if he wanted.

I found out from the Kitten Manager at the time (the same chick who had to deal with Dead Bird Lady) that this cat was brought in by Dr. W.  Her neighbors had found him wandering, trying to drink out of a puddle in one of their kids' sandboxes, and instead of giving him any water, they took him to Dr. W's house.  She already has six cats, and the clinic where she actually works has 4 full time clinic cats.  She had no room for any more cats anywhere in her life, so she checked his Feline AIDS/Leukemia status (negative), gave him his vaccinations, and brought him to our store.  She estimated his age to be about 18 weeks when she brought him in, and that turned out to be very accurate, because about a week after dropping him off, he started losing his kitten teeth.

Mojo:  King of All He Sees.

Mojo amused me in the kennel for the better part of a month, roaming around and keeping me company while I worked.  I had a sign written on a neon pink piece of paper that I stuck to the swinging kennel door:  "MOJO IS LOOSE," warning all other employees to watch out for orange cats underfoot.  I came home every night full of amusing stories about what Mojo had done.  Mojo had an obsession with ripping up paper, biting and tearing pieces out of it, so my kennel notes to the evening shift always had corners chewed off and holes in them, along with comments written by me that said things like, "<----- Mojo ate your homework."

I had no intention of bringing a cat home.  My SO and I had discussed a kitten, but in our discussions the kitten was always much younger than 18 weeks, and not an orange tabby.  We were looking for a Bunji Kugashira to go along with our Kitsune.  On July 30, 2009, I got a text message from the kitten manager that they were putting Mojo out for sale.  I made a sound of dismay, and my SO asked, "What is it?"  I said, "They're putting Mojo out for sale."  He looked at me.  I looked at him.  Then he said, "Well.  Let's go bring him home, then."  So that's what we did.

On the drive home, Mojo made not a peep.  Not one sound.  I called his name and was rewarded with the flash of a golden eye peering out of an air hole at me, but that was it.  There was no scrabbling inside the box.  There was no typical plaintive cat howls or mewling.  We walked in the apartment, I opened the top of the box, and Mojo popped out of it and stood surveying the apartment calmly, his swishing tail the only sign of any agitation.  Mojo has every situation well in paw.  He saw Simon, our fat black 8 year old cat, was not well received by Simon, and decided the best course of action was to leave Simon alone.  Wise cat.  Then he followed me into the bedroom, where he saw, and was seen by, The Shiba.  Kitsune began furiously barking at the orange house invader.  A cat!  A strange cat!  A cat, a cat!  Guys, there's a cat!  He would not stop.  Mojo was annoyed.  He didn't hiss or growl, he just glared at Kitsune and left the room.  I had no doubt that Mojo could handle himself, so I made sure my SO was aware of what was going to happen and then I released the hound.  

Kitsune dashed out into the living room after the strange cat.  Now, until this point, Kitsune's sole experience with cats had been with Simon, who is very large, very lazy, and very laid back.  Too laid back and lazy to do much to a dog with an iron will except make a lot of noise until one of us made the dog stop looking at him.  Or being near him.  The most Simon had done was taken a few half-hearted swipes at Kitsune, which Kitsune easily dodged.  He thought cats were all big pushovers, no match for bad ass little Shibas.  

In ten seconds flat, Mojo taught Kitsune that there are some cats you just do not trifle with.  Mojo assessed the situation and correctly surmised that the best way to deal with The Shiba was to convince The Shiba that he was serious about killing him.  One second Kitsune was running at Mojo, and the next Kitsune was running from Mojo.. and Mojo was chasing him.  Mojo chased Kitsune all over the house, and then stopped under the coffee table.  By stopping in mid-flight after the dog under the coffee table, he had a defensible position and had ended the interaction on his own terms without appearing to retreat.  Wise, wise cat.  This is Mojo, master strategist.  

Mojo completes a library.
Mojo has lived with us for a year.  He is neutered now, but still won't hesitate to give the dog a dressing down if need be.  Now when I catch Mojo chasing Kitsune around the house, I suspect they're both enjoying the game.  Mojo still finds the best hidey holes ever.  

This is Mojo:  He is gentle with my son, rough with the dog, and puts a little life back into Simon, who sorely needed something to make him move.  He knows what is called for in every circumstance, and responds absolutely appropriately, always.  Except when it comes to eating things.  And that is another blog post entirely.

This is Mojo:  Anatomy Tutor.

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