Jacoby’s human was saying something to him; Romeo caught the words “come on” and “go” and wasn’t surprised when Jacoby looked back and said with a sigh, “Well, it looks as though we have to go back inside now. Good seeing you, though! I’ll try to come back again soon before it gets too cold.” With that, Jacoby clambered back into his stroller and let his human push him away.
As soon as he was out of sight and smell, Ginger slunk out from the depths of the yard. “Why do you talk to that spoiled human’s minion? You’re a tom, he’s a tom…you should be engaged in mortal combat, not chit-chatting like two mockingbirds on the line!”
Romeo flicked his ears back at the sound of the mottled tabby shecat’s voice. She was one of the few cats in the yard who was not related to the other cats. Her kittens Sammy and Sarah were, definitely, but Ginger’s orange-and-black tabby fur was unique among the blacks and greys of the rest of the cats in the yard. She was also the most wary of humans. And, Romeo thought, just a little bit crazy; his mother said that part-orange cats like her tended to “see the world a bit differently” (as she gently put it) and that Ginger had had a difficult life before joining their territory. In any case, he didn’t have the energy to point out to her – again – that he wasn’t a tom, and neither was Jake; they were just males.
Ginger wasn’t finished, though – not by half. “What kind of a cat is he, anyway? What kind of cat walks on a rope like a dog, tied to a human? Cats don’t need humans! What has a human ever done for a cat?” Romeo looked around at the cat beds, the food bowls covered by umbrellas, and the litter boxes scattered among the men’s tools and machines, but he had the sense not to answer her question out loud. Lashing her two-toned striped tail, she went on, “And an unnatural, pampered cat like that? He isn’t even a cat! What cat wears clothes like a human? Doesn’t he know what he is?”
Knowing he’d regret it, Romeo interrupted, “Jake says he’s descended from ancient cats who have been living with humans longer than anyone can remember. They’ve lived with humans for so long, they aren’t used to cold weather, which is why he has to wear a coat during short-sun time.”