I think my cat has a friend

There are a number of cats that pass through our backyard, which is a kind of Route 66 between our tier of houses and the tier above us on the hill. Most of them simply skulk on through. One hisses at our 9-month-old kitten Bowie. But another cat, a large grey adult male, has started hanging around.

Bowie (front) and Cato // Photo credit: Ilana DeBare

His name is Cato and he’s not skittish around humans, but not particularly friendly to us either. On numerous occasions I’ve watched as he and Bowie lie around in the backyard near each other. Once in a while they approach each other and almost touch noses, but then one raises a paw or they both back off. No licking, no cuddling, no playing, but no fighting either. Is this feline friendship?

On more than one occasion I’ve also found Cato in our dining room eating from Bowie’s food bowl while Bowie rests nearby, watching but seemingly unconcerned.

Clearly Bowie is secure in his identity and a generous soul. Usually I shoo Cato out, since I’m pretty sure his owners wouldn’t want him cadging extra dinners. But is this the right thing to do? Am I being an ungracious hostess? After all, Becca has friends over all the time and I feed them. I make muffins. I buy bagels. I boil pasta. Two of her friends are in fact watching a DVD downstairs as I write this, and I will doubtless give them cereal and fruit salad tomorrow morning. If Cato is Bowie’s friend, doesn’t he deserve the same?

In the past, I’ve had single cats who hissed at or ran from their compatriots. Or I’ve had kittens who grew up together and played and cuddled.

I’ve never had a cat with a friend… if this is what I’m seeing.

So I’ve got a maternal worry. I guess it’s kind of what I will feel when Becca someday has a boyfriend.

 Does Cato like Bowie for who he really is? Or is he just using him for his food?

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12 Responses to “I think my cat has a friend”

  1. pilatesfan Says:

    Hi, we have an indoor cat who is allowed to roam our backyard whenever she wants…until about 9:30 – 10pm. We also have several cats who feed at our “public” bowl in the front yard as my husband has a cat, Eppie, who adopted him about 5 years ago. Eppie is on the wild side, gets into fights, etc…but we can’t get anywhere near him so that is why he eats in the front. He and our indoor cat, Pippers, are friendly through the screen and even when she “escapes” for a few minutes in the front yard, but if he enters the back when she is out there she will chase him. I think if they are not hissing or yelling at each other, they are friends…
    Love your photo and the story. Hope it all works out well……both cats are so adorable.

  2. Matthew Lasar Says:

    We’ve got a cat that adopted us after it was abandoned by the household next door. But since then neighboring cats have not been not friendly, especially “Zorro,” with whom our Henry has nightly sword fights.

    There are several other feline contenders for the zone, whom I have taken to warding off with a very large squirt gun. Zorro, unfortunately, is fast and smart.

    Then there are the possums, rodents, and raccoons. The first species practices peaceful coexistence. The second and third focus their attention on the compost bin. Henry makes short work of the rats. But we all stay away from the raccoons.

  3. Carol Emert Says:

    At least, if everything works out, they can now legally marry!

  4. N.B Says:

    That’s very interesting. Recently, I just found out that my indoor/outdoor cat has a new friend as well. My cat is just over a year old and the other cat that he plays with belongs to the neighbours (that cat is only about 6 Mnths) It was quite an amazing site at first because my cat seems territorial so when i saw him playing with the other cat, I was VERY surprised!

    • Ilana DeBare Says:

      Yes, it’s interesting how they seem to “choose” friends! About eight months have passed since my post on this, and Bowie is still friends with the big grey cat. But the big grey cat is extremely hostile to other neighborhood cats.

  5. Friendly cats Says:

    My cat has a friend too, we have no idea who he belongs to but we have named him Harry. At first I thought Harry was chasing my cat (Jensen) but Jensen turned and chased him and neither cat have their heckles up. They play nearly everyday in the day and then again in the evening. They chase, knock each other over, hit each other and role around together. I have yet to see them rub noses. Anyway today I was sitting in my living room when in comes Harry followed by Jensen. Our living room is on the second floor so they both had to come upstairs. It was like Jensen was showing him round! I sent him out and Jensen sulked and went for a sleep in my wardrobe. I think Jensen had invited Harry for a sleep over. It’s so bizarre – I’ve never seen this in cats before, I thought they were very solitary animals.

    • Ilana DeBare Says:

      Hi there! It’s been about nine months since I posted about Bowie and Cato, and they are still friends. From just hanging out near each other, they’ve progressed to play-fighting — which sounds like Jensen and Harry. Bowie (our cat) stalks Cato, jumps him, grabs him and bites his neck, and they sort of roll around and wrestle for a moment and then they part — usually one of them adopts a submissive pose, like rolling on his back or lying down. It makes me nervous because it looks so much like fighting, but neither of them ever runs away so I guess they enjoy it.

  6. Daniela Says:

    I really enjoyed reading all these comments because just recently my 1 year old Boris who is fixed and i got as a very small kitten suddenly has a friend. I have no idea where hes come from… and caught boris and the new cat sleeping quite happily on either side our of bed the other day.. what would i do… the new cat eats all of boris’ food… Tonight i chased the new cat away and boris came back hours later and wouldnt let me pick him up… this hes angry at me…

  7. Karen Says:

    Hi this is so funny as my neutered 1 yr old Elmo has a big battle scarred cat chum that sits and calls for him outside the catflap in the early hours of the morning. They mew softly at each other for a while before skipping off to get up to who knows what shennanigans. We are about to move house and I feel very guilty about breaking up this beautiful friendship as I suspect its a relatively rare occurence in an individual cat’s lifetime.

  8. thepinc h Says:

    I am from Hamilton Ontario. Hamilton loves cats. I just moved here with two very old Himalayans, One (mom) and Two (daughter). This morning I went into the backyard and found three cats lounging about and waiting for them like a bunch of teenagers. All five formed a circle and just stared at each other. I don’t think the toms are put off by the fact that these old gals are fixed, either!

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