I am not the kind of person that can leave a mystery unsolved.

Uncle Joe had to be found.

Dr. Pepper TEN needed to be explained.

It was an absolute must that I tracked down my twin.

When someone hacked my PayPal account, it wasn’t good enough to just fix it. I needed to find the people who did it. And report them to my Sheriff’s department, their Sheriff’s Department, and the FBI.

Even recently, there was a naked man on the loose in Birmingham…taking selfies at a busy intersection…with a camera on a tripod.

And what did I do? I had to figure out who he was.

And what followed? A really bizarre twitter conversation between me and an extraordinarily strange person.

(He would like to clear up the report that he was using a tripod. It was actually a GoPro Camera on a Monopod. He also didn’t run away into the woods – he had a getaway car. Because these are the important facts of this particular event.)

But it doesn’t matter if the answers are boring or weird – mysteries beg to be solved. And I cannot rest until they are.

And so, the mystery of Fred the Cat has been eating away at me since he showed up at our house in February – no way to be solved, no clues to run on, no tags, or anything else that could bread-crumb me to his secrets.

He comes and goes regularly, visiting other houses where he takes on other identities. Despite the fact that the neighbors that called him Cocoa moved away, leaving him down one food source, he looks healthier than ever, clearly getting fed by who-knows-how-many suckers taken in by his charm and boyish good looks.


And my children adore him. Fred, the friendliest cat that ever lived. Fred, the glorious companion to Ali’s childhood. Fred, the only cat that will climb a tree on command. Fred, a member of our family.

Fred the Cat in a Tree

But despite over half a year slowly ticking by, we still had no clues as to where he came from or why he so purposefully chose us as his family. (I know he has many families but he makes us feel like we’re the most important to him. The boy is a charmer.) We even took him to the vet after he had gotten hurt during some spring storms. They treated his wounds and checked him for identity microchips, but still nothing.

Until two weeks ago.

When the neighbor’s nanny, a good friend of mine, casually said, “Oh! I meant to tell you. I know where Fred lives.”

The earth ground to a halt and my heartbeat attacked my ears.


How could this be afterthought kind of news? This is groundbreaking!! This is the mystery that has eaten away at my soul for eight long months!!! THIS IS….okay already tell me what you know.”

She has a friend further down the street that has also fed Fred for over a year and a half (calling him by an unknown third alias), and long ago, Fred had a collar, so she knew where he actually lived, a block away.

She has even taken Fred back to his house when he had vet appointments, and because…Fred’s real owner was unhappy with the neighborhood status of Fred’s meal plans, as we are all as a group keeping him from staying home.

(The owner would likely be super-thrilled to know that I also treated her cat to a $200 vet visit, kept him inside for 24 hours to let him heal, and applied antibiotics to his eye for seven days. Oops. Sorry, neighbor.)

The problem is, the other non-owner neighbor will take Fred back home, but by the time she gets back to her house, Fred has beat her there.

Because Fred likes neighbors. Fred likes multiple meals. Fred is clearly an extrovert. And a player.

Oh. And….Fred’s name is Mowgli.

Fred lounged in the monkey grass on the edge of our lawn, indifferently listening to his life story.


We tried yelling the different names in his general direction.

“Hey Fred!”

“Hey Mowgli!”

“Hey Cocoa!”

“Hey Cat!”

He responded to them all identically. Which is not at all. Because he’s a cat.


So he will remain Fred at our house.

The mystery is solved, but the exultation of finally knowing the truth is, I must admit, somewhat overshadowed by the sadness that he is not indeed our cat.

Although I seriously doubt that stops him from acting like it.

16 thoughts on “Case Closed: The Mystery of Fred.

  1. Fred… you sneaky cat. I’m not a cat lover, but Fred does have some beautiful green eyes. Now let’s turn our attention to the naked selfie man in Birmingham. That seriously made me laugh out loud, (and distracted me from this post because I couldn’t resist clinking the provided link!) Please fill us in on the details soon.

    1. Right?? I don’t really have any other details. He wouldn’t answer my questions – he only provided me with the information he wanted to give – like the bit about the monopod. I will say that it appears that this is regular in his life – his neighbor identified him in the comments of the article – not because he knew he was out that day – just because Naked Man is apparently quite often naked.

  2. If it takes a village to raise a child, it surely takes at least a block or two to love a cat. Fred’s love IS like a magic penny and a lesson to us all! Any true cat guardian knows that a cat will dispense its attention and affection at will, showing as much or as little to one person without influence from other potential receivers (or neighbors). For instance, Maggie is a completely indoor cat (barring her one venture under the back porch), but she feels free to ignore me as if she had three other host homes. I look forward to Fred’s continued visits and mutual lounging in the grass.

  3. Rachel, there’s a children’s book titled “Six-Dinner Sid” or some combination of those words. It’s Fred’s story! Bet Ali would love to read it.

    1. Yes, by Inga Moore (I’ve just been going over book lists for Christmas, and several of hers are on it) a cute book, and rather apropriate here. You beat me to it.

  4. I once had a cat, a cat of many, many toes, (she was well past the legal limit of toes on each foot- six, seven, eight-ish, because some of them were just little nubbinses and I’m not sure if they actually you know, qualified.) I named her General, because I found her outside of San Francisco General, and she was there every single morning when I got off work waiting; hungry, lonely and cold.
    Finally, after months of feeding her I took her home. (Did I mention that not a single one of her numerous toes had a claw in it? Someone had had her declawed. I only hope they had to pay a LOT extra for all of her bonus toes.)
    Before I go on, I want to say in my defense that I DID post notices all over the neighborhood trying to find her owners.
    So home we went to my tiny town house in Lafayette, with a tiny front yard, a tiny back yard, a cat door, splashes of sunshine that decorated soft beds almost all day, anything a cat could want in life. Every day she was there on my fence, waiting for me when I came home from work. She was my cat and I was her girl, we were each fulfilled in one another’s company.
    One day I came home, put down my stuff and poked the “new message” button on the answering machine. It was the voice of a kind, and well meaning secretary in the business complex with which I shared a back fence. She was concerned about my cat, my exceptionally neat cat (“General? Did you know this is a female cat?”)
    The nice lady went on to say they were ALL worried, because the cat was in their office patio area almost every day, always hungry, lonely, and looking for a warm place to sleep. She hinted that my cat might be homeless or, worse– unwanted.. She said “I’m looking at her right now, and I’m wondering if I should take her home so she could be warm and comfortable, but I thought I should at least try the number on her collar first.”
    I looked down at my lovely, duplicitous cat, who was on her back at my feel, in the sun, playing idly with my toes, and watching me out of the corner of her eye.

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