Dover, Del. — Widow Katie Watson’s strange adventure began when she noticed a stray gray cat hanging around her house. “The poor thing was scruffy and hungry so I took it in,” said Watson. “I named him Felix and he was very loving and devoted. He followed me everywhere.”
Soon, though, Watson realized that Felix was more than just an unusually affectionate cat. “We were sitting on the couch watching TV,” said Watson. “When I crossed my legs, Felix crossed his little legs. Then I scratched my cheek — Felix scratched his cheek. I started to laugh, and Felix forced his mouth into a smile. It was a little scary. I began to wonder if he was related to the SpyCat I read about in your newspaper, the one who is supersmart.”
Watson was still wondering the next day when her neighbor knocked on her door. He was holding a cat collar he found in his yard. “The collar had gray fur stuck in the studs,” said Watson. “It could have belonged to Felix. He probably had an owner before I took him in.” Watson called the number on the cat collar and spoke to previous owners Mr. and Mrs. Richards. “You can keep that horrid animal!” Mrs. Richards huffed. “At first we thought of putting it in a sack and throwing it in the river. But that would have been cruel, so we took him into the woods and left him there.”
“That was pretty cruel!” Watson told her. “You think so?” Mrs. Richards exclaimed. She proceeded to describe the actions that drove them to abandon the cat. “He tried to answer the door, read the newspaper, use the toilet — everything we did, he did,” she said. “It was maddening! Mealtimes were unbearable. He chewed when we did. He swallowed when we did. When we wiped our mouths with a napkin, so did he. If my husband belched, so did the cat.”
By the time Mrs. Richards was finished Watson was very concerned — especially since she could see Felix on the phone in another room. She took the cat to a veterinarian who put him through a battery of tests. “Felix is a copycat,” Dr. Catherine Nipp pronounced. “It’s a rare condition that comes from being an only kitten, probably abandoned. Without other cats in his life he naturally emulated people. It’s actually an expression of love.” Since Watson did not want that type of affection from a pet, Dr. Nipp recommended that she buy another cat to keep Felix company. “It might help if Felix spends time with his own kind,” Dr. Nipp suggested.
Watson followed the doctor’s advice and brought home a beautiful Balinese. Felix was indeed fascinated by his new friend. Within a week he stopped imitating his owner and started to become a typical, aloof cat. “But there’s one thing I didn’t count on,” Watson said with an anxious laugh. “The new cat is a female. Soon there are going to be a lot of cats for Felix to learn from!”