White Boots, our 8-year-old cat, is 3 feet long. At least that’s how long he looked the other day when I picked him up from the living room floor to move him away from a visitor who is allergic to cats: Stretched out toe to toe, white boots and white belly presenting, he was practically the size of a porpoise.
White Boots is supposed to belong to one of my granddaughters. She fell in love with him on her 5th birthday, when she was taken for a visit to the shelter run by the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.
Her mom is allergic, too, and my granddaughter was devastated not to be allowed to bring him home. Naturally, I volunteered to foster him. She named him White Boots, and it was apparent very quickly that he had come to my house to stay.
Some of White Boots’s antics are typical cat stuff. (We think it’s cute when he jumps into the kitchen sink or the old clawfoot bathtub to beg for water, for instance.) But a few of the things he does are singular.
I was showering last week when I noticed the bottom of the shower curtain beginning to bulge strangely. It took me a minute to figure out that White Boots was pushing against it. Thinking this behavior weird, I scolded and shooed him away, but he didn’t retreat. As soon as I stepped out of the shower, he let up and started licking its edge. Then he jumped inside the enclosure and starting licking the shower floor. I was not only startled but alarmed. Eight isn’t that old for a cat, but I nevertheless feared that he was showing signs of kitty-cat dementia. Then logic prevailed: I had just used for the first time a bar of soap made in Nova Scotia that had been a Christmas present. Was something in it catnip for him? Fish oil? An indigenous herb? The next time I showered I was glad he was outdoors.
Outdoor cats have bad reputations, but I’ve been unable over the years to keep him inside. Generally speaking, he goes out after an evening meal and comes back in to sleep. Lately, however, with summer weather, he’s been spending more and more time in the yard. He will sit sentinel near the front steps or crouch near a hole in one of the flower beds waiting for a chipmunk to emerge. He hangs out around the barn, and that’s where he apparently befriended a raccoon.
Because my husband and I were out of town last weekend, we missed this latest caper. On Saturday night, my son Dan heard him meowing near the sunporch door and went to open it for him. It turned out that White Boots wasn’t the only creature peering in through the sunporch’s windows: A raccoon waited alongside. Now, I’m generally soft-hearted where indigenous animals are concerned (including deer), so I hadn’t blinked when someone told me a few weeks ago that he had seen a raccoon in the barn’s rafters.
Maybe it’s all right for White Boots to try to lap up the residue of Nova Scotia soap from the shower floor, but inviting a raccoon in for a play date is taking eccentricity too far.