My pet-loving neighbor, Judy, claims that the very best cats have something of the qualities of dogs in them; they are friendly, curious and open to all kinds of adventurous interaction with other species. Sometimes such cats as these like water, are perfectly agreeable to walking on a leash and display a fondness for dog-like amusements such as playing fetch, and eagerly eating anything that takes their fancy. In childhood, my family had a Siamese cat who had a peculiar fondness for popcorn, cookie dough, canned peaches and cornflakes – but then Siamese are notoriously eccentric. In any case, perhaps we can consider a name for these special cats. They are not kitty-cats – they are puppy-cats.

The most determined puppy-cat we know is a black cat named Horatio Caine, who lives just up the road – obviously his people are CSI fans. He has a collar with his name-tag hung on it, and the usual sort of animal license tags. I know nothing about his owners, save for what I can deduce from their garden: neat and ornamented with about the average number of garden tchochkas – fancy pots, banners, chimes and sculptures, and their car – slightly more than the usual number of in-your-face bumper-stickers. But they have a really cool cat.

Horatio lives in the garage, which he seems to prefer. They leave the garage door cracked about six inches, so he can come and go as he pleases, and does he please! He is almost always somewhere close by, when we come past with the dogs, and often comes trotting down the sidewalk to meet us. He has become perfectly amiable with Spike and with the Lesser Weevil. He will throw himself down on the warm concrete and bat at Spike with his paws, in an attempt to get her to tussle with him. One day, he even ran out from behind the car and batted Spike on the hindquarters to get her attention. He twines himself around the Weevil’s legs, walks underneath her and rubs the side of his face against both of them. This action may be taken as affectionate, but I am also told it is how cats mark objects for their own. This sometimes happens twice in a day, as we go out and as we return; it really seems that Horatio is glad to see us. When we depart, he runs after us the length of several houses, before trotting back to his garage.

It didn’t happen overnight, of course – he wouldn’t come very close to Weevil, at first. Spike was much closer in size, and not nearly so intimidating. Gradually, he put aside a certain wariness about the Weevil, coming closer and closer, or allowing her to come closer to him, as they sniff at each other in a companionable way. For the last month or so, they have been easy and comfortable with each other. Horatio walks below her chin, and she drools on him. I think the Weevil would like to be better friends with cats, but of ours, only Percy and Sam allow any such familiarity.

It is really quite marvelous, to have a cat be so friendly with dogs that are not part of their household. I shouldn’t be surprised to know that Horatio has other dog-friends, but it must make a curious sight for anyone driving through our neighborhood: a black cat, so utterly friendly and affectionate towards a pair of dogs, out for their daily walkies. He is obviously very fond of his people, and they of him – otherwise, we’d add him to our menagerie, or at least see if he wanted to put on a leash and go on walkies with us.

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