While I was away the last few months I got periodic reports of cat sightings at St. Dunstan’s. An orange cat, a tabby, a tuxedo — all were seen hanging around at some point. All of them were feral; none wanted to be touched or petted. I gave the okay to start putting food out, but I was resolute that I was not going to tame another cat to take Dunstan’s place. We’d have feral cats on the property, but no more church cats.
The cat that seemed to be hanging around the most was the orange tabby. He was very vocal — loud and demanding when the food bowl is empty. He was insistent that once food was in the bowl his interaction with humans was done. Any attempts to approach him or talk to him were met with loud hisses. Until Sunday.
Sunday morning I watched as Beth Zimmerman walked in from the parking lot. The orange cat appeared, meowing loudly. Beth reached down and called to him. He came up and let her pet him, then started wrapping himself around her legs. Others came and were allowed to touch him. After church he was on the sidewalk on his back, accepting belly rubs from anyone who would give them. He has greeted me in the parking lot every morning this week.
So it looks like we have a cat. And cats need names. Bob Longino referred to him as “Old Yeller,” and though that is an accurate description, we all know how that story ends, and it’s not good. Someone else has been referring to him as “the orange bastard” because of his propensity to hiss. But that’s really not a good name for a church cat. And I think many of us already have an image that comes to mind when we hear the words “orange bastard,” and it’s not a cat.
Several people suggested that it was not just a coincidence that this cat suddenly became a people cat on my first Sunday back, and wondered whether Joe was sending us good cat vibes from above. So I’ve decided to name this cat after Joe. The name Joseph in Italian (all four of his grandparents immigrated from there) is Giuseppe. The shortened version is Beppe. So when you’re here on Sunday look for Beppe and welcome him to St. Dunstan’s.