05 October 2015

I Couldn't Put The Cat In My Bag

Yesterday, I managed to get out for a late-day ride:  a couple of hours spinning and making random turns on Tosca, my Mercian fixed-gear.

Although I had clip-on lights in my rear bag, I didn't want to ride after dark. So, when the sun--which, early in the afternoon had emerged from a days-long absence--tinged the sky orange, I took a shortcut back to my place through the deserted (as they are on weekends) industrial areas of Maspeth and Long Island City.

As I pedaled up a street nestled between rows of warehouses, I saw what looked like a furry shadow slinking by a construction site.  It leaped onto the crumbling brick stoop of a house that seemed to be constructed of peeling shingles.  And I heard...

Meow.  Yes, that furry shadow was feline--but not, I would soon find out, feral.  I stopped and, after I looked into its eyes for a split-second, he (by that time, I had decided  he was male) made a tiptoed sprint toward me.

I rubbed my fingers on his head.  He rubbed against my ankle.  I stroked his back.  He closed his eyes and rolled, a little, on his side.

I really knew he wasn't feral when I picked up my leg and dismounted my bike.  That motion frightens off most cats (and many other animals).  But my new friendly feline acquaintance took a step closer to me.  Finally, I squatted and picked him up.  He didn't resist.  In fact, he curled himself on my shoulder and chest.

He stayed there as I lifted my right leg over Tosca and re-mounted.  I pedaled down the deserted street, crossed another and increased my cadence just a little when he started to squirm.  

Hmm...I know that even when I was at my best, my pedal stroke was never as smooth Jacques Anquetil's or Stephen Roche's.  Still, I tried to make my motions more fluid, if slower.  The cat squirmed more, and jumped off.

But he didn't run away from me.  In fact, he almost seemed to be waiting for me to dismount and pick him up again.  Which I did.  And I remounted the bike.  And pedaled--slowly--again.  He squirmed, but never clawed me.  Not only was he not feral; he had obviously never been on a bike before!

So I picked him up again and walked, with him on my left shoulder and my right hand clutching Tosca's stem, back to the construction site. He looked, rather forlornly, as I said goodbye. (If only I could have photographed him!)

As I left, I noticed a bowl and plate by the construction site: Somebody has been feeding him.  Still, I am somewhat tempted to go back--even if my landlady really means what she said about a two-cat limit (which I had to beg for when I moved in; she only wanted to allow one).  Plus, I have to wonder how my cats would take a new addition to the "family".  Max is friendly and curious; he seemed to be thinking "Great!  A new playmate!" the day I brought Marlee home. But Marlee is still fearful and skittish; she seems to come out of hiding only for me. 

From Boyz on the Hoods

I could go back with the LeTour, which has baskets on it, and a blanket or pillow.  And maybe the landlady, if and when she comes in, won't see him:  He is a smoky gray color, which means he could hide fairly easily.  Plus, Max would like him:  He likes everybody, or so it seems.  As for Marlee...

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