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Mister February 2019 - Ziggy
Dog personality in a cat's body

B
right blue eyes, a missing ear, and questionable parentage. Ziggy has distinctive looks and discerning tastes. He should, after all; he’s a cat. And this cat has chosen long-time Oriental resident Grace Evans to be his human.

Ziggy makes his own schedule, comes and goes as he pleases, and has made an excellent companion for (and of) Grace. For this, he is named Mr. February, the TownDock.net Pet of the Month.

Ziggy
Fearless like a bob cat, tough as an alley cat, Ziggy can confront a camera as easily as he takes on invading squirrels or unwelcome dogs in the hood.

According to Grace, Ziggy and his 2 siblings were found near a local storage unit in 2011. The two siblings were all black. Ziggy is a multi-colored long hair, leaving the possibility the father was a traveling man. According to Evans, neither father nor mother were ever seen.

Asked about his breeding, Evans offered the conjecture that one part of his ancestral heritage could be from that part of Thailand once known as Siam. The coloring could also suggest the subcontinent of India home to Bengal tigers, the pocosin swamps of North Carolina’s coastal plain, and any North American municipality where alleys separate commercial buildings.

Ziggy
Ziggy, and his human Grace.

“Looking at him makes me think he’s kin to a Siamese,” Grace said, “but there is also just little hint of orange stripe in there. His tail is short. Not as short as the bobcats, but there is a little bob on the end of it. Maybe he wasn’t born with a tail like that, that may have happened to him along the way.” Ziggy has pronounced blue eyes that cross. According to Grace, his deformed right ear lobe was from surgery to remove a growth, not from a confrontation in an alley. His large feet and bob tail, common to bobcats that live in the swamps, are only an imagined link to those larger felines.

Grace chronicled Ziggy’s history: from his beginnings in a home on Midyette St. with 2 dogs (one called Turbo, with whom he did not see eye to eye), to a leave of absence that had him wandering Oriental for several months on his own, to a police officer’s household already filled with five dogs and five cats.

ZiggyZiggyZiggy
Ziggy; a closer look.

Each member of the policeman’s family had a name for Ziggy. Perhaps the most appropriate was Elvis. With Ziggy’s ability to travel, one never knew when it would be appropriate to say, “Elvis has left the building.”

Grace said, “He was happy there for about a year, but when Hurricane Florence hit, he disappeared again.”

After the storm, Ziggy returned to his old home on Midyette. But he and Turbo could not seem to settle their differences. “Two months ago, he took up with me,” she explained. “He’s trying to replace the dog I lost a couple of years ago. He follows me everywhere. He greets me when I come home; he sees me off when I go. I admit that I am still a dog person, but then again, Ziggy acts like a dog the way he stays close to me.”

Ziggy
Ziggy contemplates his dog-like behavior.

Grace has called Oriental home longer than most current residents, including natives. She and her husband began as weekenders, seeking sailing adventures in 1961. The old depot, now a part of O’Town, was the abode they used to escape the congestion of the Triangle: Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. Her home now – and Ziggy’s – is on property tied to two of the three parts of the county’s economy: forestry and fishing. The land was once the site of the Roper Lumber Company. Now it is home to a kayak launching dock and a boat ramp.

A long time advocate for the protection of water quality of the Neuse River, Grace was asked about significant civic roles she has played over the last 6 decades. She said that would be a long typewritten page. Then she countered with, “I want to tell you about Ziggy, not me.”

Ziggy
Ziggy assumes a classic feline posture.

She did, however, provide historical reflections about Oriental pets. “Pets here are free range. So many people here know the names of dogs, but don’t always know the names of their owners.” Grace said. “A long time ago, a Chesapeake Bay retriever took up residence with a couple that had a weekend home here. Nobody knew who this dog belonged to, but during the week, when this couple left to return to their home in Raleigh, other people would feed the dog. Come Friday when it was about time for the foster couple to return, this dog would be on the edge of town waiting to see their car arrive.”

“Then there was Rufus. Rufus was a girl, but her owner didn’t want her to know she was a girl. So he named her Rufus. You could be walking down the street in winter; Rufus would quietly come up behind you and shock you with a cold wet kiss on your hands.”

Grace’s soft spot for animals was illustrated by her comment about the Dragon Burn, a new event for Oriental. “I just couldn’t bear to watch something burn that we love.”

Ziggy
Ziggy likes the perch atop cars. He once jumped on a car whose owner was visiting Evans. The car’s moon roof was open. Ziggy suddenly found himself in the driver’s seat.

Grace said that Ziggy is fearless, independent, and strong. “He looks like a fighter, but he doesn’t look for fights. If a dog not to his liking invades his turf here, he will jump the dog, and he’s not intimidated by a dog’s size. He will even jump two at the time if he feels violated. But if three dogs show up, he will head to the top of a pecan tree. When the coast is clear, he will find his way down just as easily as he found his way up there.”

Ziggy pays for his room and board in a special way. “He is a good squirrel chaser. One of the reasons I was willing to let him move in here is because he goes after squirrels climbing on the screen wire around the porch. And when he’s in anti-squirrel mode, he manages not to bother any of my flowers on the porch.”

He is playful inside, but not destructive. “He will streak through the house, jump up on counter tops, jump up on the mantle, and parade around them. I don’t know how he does it, but he never knocks anything down. To reach something, he will stand on his hind legs. When he is stretched out trying to reach up, it’s easy to see that he is about a yard long.

Ziggy
Ziggy takes complete responsibility for his personal hygiene with a super sized bath cloth.

If there is alley cat DNA in Ziggy, Evans provided cause to believe it’s not evident in his preferred diet. Ziggy does not salvage food from the garbage. “He eats only one kind of dried cat food – Meow-Mix. He won’t eat table scraps, won’t eat any kind of canned cat food, won’t even eat fish or shrimp scraps. He gets only his favorite dry cat food.”

That time on his own has caused Ziggy to adhere to a very strict schedule. “He often stays out until about 11 every night, scratches to come in, then goes straight to bed,” Grace said. “He jumps up on the bed, stays in one place all night. He just chills on his side of the bed; he doesn’t come over on my side until he wants me to get up and let him out in the morning.”

A man-about-town, yet a man with a home. Ziggy is Mr. February.

Celebrity most resembles: Evander Holyfield, post fight

Likes: Meow-Mix Dry Cat Food
Wants: A warm bed, a dry house always ready
Secret Talent: Chasing squirrels away from the screens
Dislikes: Turbo, a dog (and former roommate) living in his hood
Claim to Fame: Descended from multi-continent ethnic blends
Rule to Live By: Have the freedom to come and go at will


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