Mr Puddles: A Friendly Feline Escorting Many Home from Church

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Mr Puddles: A Friendly Feline Escorting Many Home from Church

We do not know why but he began following our neighbour Lee, as she walked toward the Church of the Nativity, Crystal Stream, Diego Martin.

What was even more surprising to her was exiting the church compound and seeing him bounding towards her to accompany her home. He had waited for the duration of the Service below a tree in the church yard.

This is what she says about how it started, “coming out church, evening Mass, and he is sitting to escort me home. That was the first [time] I noticed him doing that. After that, it was a common practice with him waiting for us when we come out the church and from then on, he is friendly with everyone who passes by. He is such a wonderful cat”.

He continued his escorting without the incentive of a treat; she does not feed him. “He is just a loveable animal and well mannered,” she says.

One evening I was attending an event at church, and he suddenly appeared and greeted me in his cat language. He strolled alongside into the church yard reaching as far as the church entrance. I wondered if one day curiosity would cause him to cross the threshold and enter the sacred space.

“Puddles” as he was named by his owner Nicole, was adopted from The Trinidad and Tobago Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) about nine years ago. She liked him right away. Nicole said he is a “lovely cat” though he can be quarrelsome; Puddles is very vocal. “As I open the door in the morning, he start!” she says.

Mr Puddles, as he is also called, is a boldfaced tomcat but even with that, it is difficult to be angry with him. He has made it a habit of walking into Lee’s home and reclining on her sofa. A brave move as Lee has a female cat named Lucky, a stray who appeared in her yard as a kitten and is now like family.

Puddles was undeterred and still dropped in.

My first encounter with this feline was while he was still a kitten. Somehow, he got into our yard and as Muffin and Belle, our dogs, were around, he ran up the mango tree. The dogs were secured, and Nicole came over and tried to coax him down; she brought a treat but he was scared and refused to budge. I used a ladder to get closer; the possibility of falling made me wonder what I really was doing; he has nine lives as they say about cats. Their flexible spines rotate and gives them speed and grace. So, Puddles would likely land on his feet while me with my regular spine was sure to injure something! Somehow, I got a hold of him and delivered him to his relived owner.

Puddles has become so much a part of our environment that when he came home to Nicole one day with his leg so badly injured that he needed surgery, neighbours chipped in to assist with the cost.

It is always a delight to see Puddles running toward the church yard to meet us after Mass. Seeing familiar faces, he would greet us and escort, looking back to see we were keeping pace. On days he was late, he would hurry towards us as we walked out of the church yard. I wondered at his sense of timing.

Puddles has a bias to females and onlookers may be surprised seeing him holding court with two or three neighbours and we unabashedly fawning. He sometimes disappeared for days going on his exploits but so it is with cats.

We enjoyed his way of communicating with us and displays of affection— brushing against our leg, little nips on our hand as we stroked his fur. He loves to have his head scratched and sprawls out on the road happily.

Black cats have gotten a bad reputation being associated with evil, but Mr Puddles has shown himself to be a loving presence in the neighbourhood.

An extended absence in March prompted Nicole to distribute a “Missing” flyer, it was even on the parish Facebook page. Cats can wander off for days, months or even years so his return is as unexpected as his departure. We who were privileged to receive his affection have prayed for him, wherever he is, and trust that God is keeping him safe in his adventures.