Friday, 13 June 2014

The Parking Lot Cat

Many many years ago, there was a car guard who watched the cars at our local shopping center. Now what I am going to say might come across as prejudiced, stereotyped, maybe even racist and judgmental, but it is none of the above. It is what it is and sometimes we are way too politically correct so that innocent conversation is not twisted into something it was never meant to be.

Well this man was not your usual car guard. In South Africa you get guards that look after cars in shopping centers who are usually black men and these days they are mostly from up North in Africa, well in our area they are from some part of Africa and very few from South Africa. Then you get real down and out white men and women who are "car guards". They watch your car for money, usually playing the "we are white and can't get a job" card. They are rough and stand under the tree watching cars for booze money. This man was neither. He was a white man, but he was neat and tidy and clean and well spoken and had obviously hit hard times and worked as a guard as he was desperate for work. He just did not fit the car guard profile.

One day I was chatting to him as I packed my shopping bags in the car and a black cat ran up to him. He told me that the cat was feral and he had started sharing his lunch with the cat. This man's wife packed him lunch everyday and he would give the cat some. Slowly the cat started coming closer and closer to him until they became friends. Other shoppers spoke to him and saw the cat as well and everyone bought the cat some food. This was eleven or twelve years ago. The man then left and a hairdresser in the center took over caring for the cat. The cat had a little bed outside the salon and the hairdresser fed him and then the hairdresser closed her salon and the cat's bed was moved to the parking lot.

The Parking Lot Cat's Home
That cat is still there. The guards come and go, but they all look after the cat. Someone many years ago donated a kennel after the hairdresser left and everyone drops off food. I can't say exactly how many years ago it was, but it is definitely more than ten years ago, because we moved to this house in 2003 and it was at least a year or two before we moved to this house that I met the security guard who started caring for the cat.

Parking Lot Cat
He is starting to look old now and it is such a sweet story. If that man did not fall on hard times and come and guard cars at that shopping center, the poor cat would have ended up like all the other unwanted stray and feral cats. He might live outside in a parking lot, but he has had a good life, probably better than most cats who live in homes with families. He is also proof that it is a fallacy that cats wander. I have never had a cat that runs around the streets, Garfield is 16 years old and does not wander off our property and the shopping center cat does not wander all over the center. He stays by his kennel and does not even go near the shops. He is happy and content and so friendly. He so owns that parking lot and even when the parking lot is busy like it was this evening, he just wanders out of his bed walks around the cars where his kennel is and then sits in the bay next to his kennel. Someone must have had him sterilized years ago. I actually can't even remember if he is a he, I think so, but either way he/she was fixed.

In many African cultures they believe cats are evil, I asked Phineas why he doesn't like cats and why he says they are evil when we thought we found a stray cat at the workshop, turns out it was the neighbours cat. He said it has something to do with them sounding like babies when they cry at night. So for those guards who constantly change at the shopping center to look after the cat the way they do is really wonderful.

I often wonder what happened to that man who had so little and still shared what he had with a stray and feral cat. I wonder if he knows his cat is still alive and doing well thanks to his kindness. I hope he is doing well in his life. I took the photos with my Blackberry very quickly, because I did not want anyone to think I was an animal activist taking photos to report the cat living in a parking lot. That cat is so well looked after and all thanks to people who have less than most.

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