Troy Shantz file photo
Have you met Charlie the Cat?
About 18 months ago Charlie tiptoed out of the woods from parts unknown and, with tail straight out, leapt through the doorway of the red barn at the Children’s Animal Farm in Canatara Park.
Since that day, despite countless visitors leaving doors open countless times, he has never ventured outside again.
Charlie is a stray but socialized to people and was likely once someone’s pet. Whatever his life adventures thus far he has managed to maintain a shiny, all-white coat.
He is also a cat of some substantial size, suggesting he hasn’t pushed away early from too many dinner tables.
Charlie has settled into his surroundings at the barn quite well, thank you very much.
He commandeered one of the empty pens, just across from the area occupied by the rabbits and guinea pigs. These vegetarians have been living together in harmony for some time now but, much to their collective surprise, have been joined by a new and carnivorous stablemate.
Cats. There is some justification to the claim that the 21st century is the ‘Century of the Cat.’ Just look at the number of people who post Facebook videos of their cats doing something irresistible.
And when their own Buttercup hasn’t displayed something Olympian in the previous hour, they can enjoy YouTube videos of other cats being cute and clever.
The Internet, it has been reported, is home to 6.5 billion cat videos. That’s Billion with a B.
Those who aren’t cat people do their best to forgive those who post these tributes.
Charlie the Cat has become a fixture at the Canatara Animal Farm. He hisses his disapproval of dogs but welcomes human visitors of all shapes and sizes, padding over, leaning forward, and sitting still for as much petting as possible.
Charlie sniffs and rejects the carrots wide-eyed children offer to the rabbits and guinea pigs. Often, though, he drinks their water. Good friends sharing a libation.
At bedtime, Charlie even snuggles up with all of them in their hay. One carnivorous cat cuddled up together with a crowd of herbivores in peaceful critter sleep.
A lion with the lambs. An Internet-ready scene, you might say.
But while others post videos of cats chasing bubbles or playing the piano, word in the park has it that Charlie is exploring an offer from Netflix.