Dorothy Harris

Shere Khan comes home

His real name, given long ago when our daughter was just 3, was a silly nonsense name. Years later, we were informed, it sounded like a Spanish slur. For this reason, I refer to him as Shere Khan. You remember the fierce tiger in the Jungle Book stories, don't you? His arch nemesis was Bagheera, the black panther. Shere Khan came to us a scrawny critter suffering from smoke inhalation and burns. Mr. Harris found him while on duty with Polk County Fire Rescue. Good veterinary support from Sebring Animal Hospital and a lot of loving care brought him back to full health. Eventually, though, this large orange cat became a nasty boy.
He scared our pet sitter and tormented our other felines. One day, he bit the kid bad enough I took her to the ER. The bite got cleaned, the kid got a lesson in how not to pick up her cat, and I got a lecture from the doctor. I had the cat's teeth filed to prevent this from happening again. Of the bills, you can guess which one was cheapest. I hoped this would end our problems, but Mr. Sunshine's issues began to escalate. He busted out of the screen room on a regular basis. After Mr. Harris replaced the screens for the fourth time, it was clear this feline had to go. As I mentioned, his disposition wasn't the greatest so I was having real issues with placement. As we reached the end of our possibilities, we hit pay dirt when one of the gals at the animal hospital bonded with him. She offered to give him a home, allowing him to be an indoor/outdoor cat, which he apparently had already decided upon. We rejoiced. The joke was on us however as Mr.Pumpkinhead sauntered home one day, after discovering we all lived in the same neighborhood. He eventually brought another cat home with him. She began living with us full time as Shere Khan split his residency between us and his new owner. Eventually, he moved back home too. Then Bagheera showed up. This thin black cat must have belonged to someone, but popped up on our doorstep and never left. Even after we had him neutered, he stayed, deciding regular meals were worth losing his manhood over. He and Orange Boy would fight like the dickens. I doctored cats as necessary, rearranged food bowls and lodging, hoping for the best. Then our Shere Khan-sized orange cat relocated to the next block. We worried about him a bunch and visited him every evening when we walked. (He used to stroll around the block with us each evening.) He seemed happy and the neighbors, who have known him for years, set out food bowls and welcomed his presence. I have to admit the first time he openly dissed us for someone else, it hurt. He had multiple owners and was smug about it. We had to acknowledge he had moved on. I traded numbers and let everyone know to call us if he wore out his welcome or needed care. A few weeks later, I got a call. He had hurt his paw so we brought him home. During his healing, he seems content to be indoors once again. As I type this, he is lounging on a pillow, freshly washed, fully fed and drowsy with sleep. Will he hang up his wandering ways for good? I can only hope he's seen the light. Many thanks to our neighborhood families for showing Mr. Pud hospitality, he's doing real well.